Monday, August 26, 2013

NSA spied on lovers and the UN

The weekend's NSALeaks: firstly, NSA staff routinely abused their powers to spy on love interests:

National Security Agency officers on several occasions have channeled their agency’s enormous eavesdropping power to spy on love interests, U.S. officials said.

The practice isn’t frequent — one official estimated a handful of cases in the last decade — but it’s common enough to garner its own spycraft label: LOVEINT.

While they're trying to downplay this, a practice doesn't get its own name unless it is common and widely known. Which means that when they say there have only been a couple of cases in the last decade, that will be a couple of cases where they did anything.

Naturally, no-one has been prosecuted for this gross abuse of state power. Laws are for little people, not spies.

Meanwhile, the NSA has also been spying on the UN, the EU, and pretty much everyone:
he U.S. National Security Agency has bugged the United Nations' New York headquarters, Germany's Der Spiegel weekly said on Sunday in a report on U.S. spying that could further strain relations between Washington and its allies.

Citing secret U.S. documents obtained by fugitive former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, Der Spiegel said the files showed how the United States systematically spied on other states and institutions.

Der Spiegel said the European Union and the U.N.'s Vienna-based nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), were among those targeted by U.S. intelligence agents.

In the summer of 2012, NSA experts succeeded in getting into the U.N. video conferencing system and cracking its coding system, according one of the documents cited by Der Spiegel.

"The data traffic gives us internal video teleconferences of the United Nations (yay!)," Der Spiegel quoted one document as saying, adding that within three weeks the number of decoded communications rose to 458 from 12.

This is going down as you'd expect in German politics. There's an election on, and the leader of the opposition has made it an issue, promising to stall EU-US free trade talks in retaliation. Another example of how spying is harmful to the US's stated interests.