France, Mexico outraged over espionage agency’s espionage … again

posted at 10:01 am on October 21, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Man, I love the smell of posturing in the morning:

The U.S. National Security Agency swept up 70.3 million French telephone records in a 30-day period, according to a newspaper report that offered new details of the massive scope of a surveillance operation that has angered some of the country’s closest allies. The French government on Monday summoned the U.S. ambassador for an explanation.

The report in Le Monde, co-written by Glenn Greenwald who originally revealed the NSA surveillance program, found that when certain numbers were used, the conversations were automatically recorded. The surveillance operation also swept up text messages based on key words, Le Monde reported, based on records from Dec. 10 to Jan 7. …

“This sort of practice between partners that invades privacy is totally unacceptable and we have to make sure, very quickly, that this no longer happens,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said during a meeting in Luxembourg with his European counterparts. Fabius said the U.S. ambassador had been summoned to the Foreign Ministry.

CBS Radio News correspondent Elaine Cobbe reported that France has asked Ambassador Charles Rivkin for assurances that the activity has stopped. Kerry was to meet Fabius on Tuesday morning in Paris. The meeting was expected to focus on the ongoing crisis in Syria, but French officials have confirmed the NSA spying will now be on the agenda, too.

Mexico’s getting in on the outrage, too:

France and Mexico have angrily demanded prompt explanations from Washington following fresh, “shocking” spying allegations leaked by former US security contractor Edward Snowden. …

Mexican authorities said they would be seeking answers from US officials “as soon as possible” following the allegations.

“The Mexican government reiterates its categorical condemnation of the violation of privacy of institutional communications and Mexican citizens,” Mexico’s foreign ministry said in a statement Sunday.

“This practice is unacceptable, illegitimate and contrary to Mexican law and international law,” the statement read.

If this sounds familiar, well … it should.  Greenwald released similar information in July, which prompted the same kind of short-lived diplomatic row as this.  It was short-lived because France does the same thing. In fact, they may be even worse about it in terms of stealing technological data:

Back in 2001, European leaders accused the United States government of operating a vast industrial espionage network that was eavesdropping on European businesses and giving trade secrets to American companies.

According to the latest WikiLeaks cable release, they should have been looking internally.

France is the country that conducts the most industrial espionage on other European countries, even ahead of China and Russia, according to leaked U.S. diplomatic cables, reported in a translation by Agence France Presse of Norwegian daily Aftenposten’s reporting.

“French espionage is so widespread that the damages (it causes) the German economy are larger as a whole than those caused by China or Russia,” an undated note from the U.S. embassy in Berlin said.

The Mexico part of the story isn’t really breaking news, either.  John Harwood puts this in perspective:

Joshua Foust has a suggestion, too:

The NSA’s mission on SIGINT isn’t just well known to our allies, it’s a mission in which a number of them share in the results.  No one can honestly be shocked that the NSA is listening in on massive numbers of phone calls made outside our borders, because that’s practically the agency’s raison d’être, to borrow a phrase from our French partners.  The purpose in revealing this is hardly to blow the whistle, but merely to embarrass everyone involved.  Mission accomplished in that sense, I suppose, but it’s not going to stop the NSA from listening in on phone calls overseas, not unless Congress decides to shutter the agency — and that’s simply never going to happen.

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France is outraged over intelligence gathering? Look in a mirror.

As for Mexico, I have two words: Zimmermann Telegraph.

rbj on October 21, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Maybe we need to get the NSA to secretly sign people up for ObamaCare.

No need for a website..

Electrongod on October 21, 2013 at 10:13 AM

No one can honestly be shocked that the NSA is listening in on massive numbers of phone calls made outside our borders

Have you no shame Ed?

Smiles on October 21, 2013 at 10:14 AM

What’s Mexico going to do?
Invade the southern US… oh wait.

mjbrooks3 on October 21, 2013 at 10:22 AM

I’m so shocked. Not.

Sekhmet on October 21, 2013 at 10:24 AM

What’s Mexico going to do?
Invade the southern US… oh wait.

mjbrooks3 on October 21, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Which was what they did in 1916 (resulting in the Punitive Expedition) and what the Zimmermann Telegram was all about the Germans wanting them to do officially a year later.

Today, of course, drug lords do their best to emulate Doroteo Arango, aka Pancho Villa, every chance they get.

As for France, between Vichy, the dope-smuggling diplomats in the 1960s, their “we see nothing!” deal with the PLO in the Seventies, and now their pretending that other Islamist groups aren’t using France as a transfer point for the actions against the West, they long ago used up whatever goodwill the Marquis de Lafayette created.

I define keeping track of the bad actors on their turf as just common sense, since it’s pretty obvious that they can’t or won’t do it themselves.

clear ether


eon on October 21, 2013 at 10:31 AM

So! The NSA’s job is to collect information from Americans inside the US. This violates both our Constitution and the NSA’s charter. What me worry, say the idiots of America…right? If you like it warm, your future will be warm…amplified!

Ceteris Paribus on October 21, 2013 at 10:33 AM

All this secret info at his fingertips, and He still doesn’t know wtf he is doing.

Ben Hur on October 21, 2013 at 10:36 AM

Well it’s good to know that these governments think that their citizenry is as stupid as our government. We are all just one big ATM machine.

Cindy Munford on October 21, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Hope and Change, aholes, remember when you were running in circles celebrating the demise of Dubya’s cowboy diplomacy? So pound sand and pound it hard.

Bishop on October 21, 2013 at 10:40 AM

Most likely a “drug war” operation, our CIA drug runners getting info on their competion down Mexico way and with France getting intel on the international drug running.

There is evil inside the U.S. elite.

Other wise the Mexican Border with the U.S. would be secure.

Follow the evil.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on October 21, 2013 at 10:41 AM

By now, we should have learned that intelligence gathered covertly, to have value, must be done undetected. The NSA, worse than bungling that principle, doesn’t even try to deny it.

This is not intelligence, it is clumsy state police-work that seems to do nothing but cause political tension without delivering any law-enforcement benefits (we aren’t catching criminals/ enemies and atrocities are not being prevented).

virgo on October 21, 2013 at 10:57 AM

France and Mexico have angrily demanded prompt explanations from Washington following fresh, “shocking” spying allegations leaked by former US security contractor Edward Snowden. …

…Jay Carney will be available!

KOOLAID2 on October 21, 2013 at 10:44 PM

Kabuki theater to impress their masses. Any government that thinks it’s not being hacked or at least being attacked regularly is utterly insane and out of touch with reality.


herself on October 22, 2013 at 3:56 AM