The NSA spying scandal is causing an uproar in capitals around the world as revelations surface that the US intelligence agency has been spying on citizens of friendly countries in France and Mexico. In France the US ambassador was summoned to explain why French telephone data was recorded by the NSA between December and January of this year. The allegation was published in France’s paper of record Le Monde.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Le Monde’s report on Monday that 70.3 million items of French telephone data were recorded by the NSA between December 10, 2012 and January 8, 2013 were “unacceptable”.
The NSA’s targets appeared to be individuals suspected of links to terrorism, but also people tied to French business or politics, the report said.”We have extremely useful cooperation with the United States in the struggle against terrorism, but this cooperation does not justify everything,” Fabius told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting with EU counterparts in Luxembourg.
The allegation of the NSA spying on politicians of friendly countries seems to be substantiated by another report that the NSA accessed the president of Mexico’s email. An article published in Der Spiegel details the conduct of a division within the NSA called Tailored Access Operations and its unauthorized entry and abuse of Mexican government computers.
The NSA has been systematically eavesdropping on the Mexican government for years. It hacked into the president’s public email account and gained deep insight into policymaking and the political system. The news is likely to hurt ties between the US and Mexico.
The National Security Agency (NSA) has a division for particularly difficult missions. Called “Tailored Access Operations” (TAO), this department devises special methods for special targets. That category includes surveillance of neighboring Mexico, and in May 2010, the division reported its mission accomplished. A report classified as “top secret” said: “TAO successfully exploited a key mail server in the Mexican Presidencia domain within the Mexican Presidential network to gain first-ever access to President Felipe Calderon’s public email account.”
In other words, the US government has been doing to its allies and own citizens what it prosecutes other people for doing under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). The hypocrisy is epic and disgusting. The NSA has disgraced and embarrassed the American people at home and abroad.
The rampant criminality and antisocial behavior of America’s intelligence community has not only diminished American rule of law at home, but is leading to increasing friction internationally with our allies. It is well past time for us to reexamine the power of the NSA and friends.