#1 By: Cory Doctorow, October 24th, 2013 18:27
#2 By: Boundegar, October 24th, 2013 18:50
Only 35? Their job, and the CIA's, is to spy on all world leaders. The President needs enough information to make smart choices. I would assume the Mossad and MI5 and their ilk are also busily spying on our leaders. That's their job.
That's not at all the same thing as invading the privacy of our own citizens. There was an uproar about this in the 60s - something involving Mr. Hoover and Dr. King, among others. As a result, a Chinese wall was erected between the cops and the spies. That wall has been torn down now, and it's not a good thing.
#3 By: Jeff Atwood, October 24th, 2013 18:58
Wait, does this mean there are other agencies out there spying on our leaders?
#4 By: IMB, October 24th, 2013 19:05
Who are the mysterious "customers"?
#5 By: Tim, October 24th, 2013 19:07
It's also part of their job not to get caught, thus alienating our allies. Either way they f***ed up.
#6 By: IMB, October 24th, 2013 19:24
Yeah, but I'm not so sure back then the "pipeline" was so direct. How would the CIA wiretap everyone? Maybe the occasional bugged room, but how much private information are they also getting from this now, things that may not have anything to do with governing?
#7 By: IMB, October 24th, 2013 19:57
I have a hunch Israel is a "customer" based on the US sending them un-redacted info on US citizens.
#8 By: Joe Rodgers, October 24th, 2013 22:31
Their job is to spy on our enemies. Allies, the theory goes, can be asked for the information we need.
Choosing to spy on allies is a predictable step toward becoming enemies. But the US seems comfortable going it alone this century.
#9 By: Adam Knapp, October 25th, 2013 00:19
I'm relatively sure that, by "customers", them mean other federal agencies such as the state department, etc. Israel might get some privileged information but we are also spying on them:
New details have emerged in the case of an F.B.I. translator who was sentenced last year to 20 months in prison for leaking classified information to a blogger.
#10 By: technogeek, October 25th, 2013 00:33
No. Their job is to spy on everyone. Always has been. We spy on allies to check their security, to practice our spycraft, to find out what they aren't telling us, and because even allies are competitors.
For domestic political reasons, everyone will get huffy about it for a while... but in fact everyone knows that this is the way things work and it will be allowed to blow over fairly quickly, after a few meaningless gestures.
If this is unexpected, you REALLY haven't been paying attention. If any congresscritter claims it's unexpected they're either flat-out lying or haven't been doing the part of their job which involves attending briefings.
#11 By: Drabula, October 25th, 2013 04:37
"Yeah, everyone's naive if you don't already know.....blah blah blah." I don't know what I'm more weary of - the ravenous surveillance state or the "look at how realpolitik I am!" commentators who rush to tell the world that this is all business as usual. It's as if they are anxious for all the spy novels they've read to come to life as soon as possible because, you know, it's so Bourne-like and exciting and their acceptance of it shows how worldly they are.
When the US is so hell-bent on listening in on the conversations of its allies it's most likely a case of industrial/financial espionage or just plain old "we can do it so that means we should". It's proof that the government has truly become an arm of the corporate world. It has little to nothing to do with the safety of citizens and everything to do with making sure their friends in high places (and boardrooms that they themselves sit on or soon will) have as much advantage as possible. I don't pay taxes and vote for representatives so they can man a government that spends billions on industrial espionage to benefit private corporations. It's bullshit.
#12 By: Daemonworks, October 25th, 2013 05:09
Everyone spies on everyone they can, all the time. That's how it's always worked.
The real problem is they got caught doing so, and now everyone gets to wag fingers and get a few bonus points in the ridiculous boardgame that is international diplomacy.
#15 By: Nathan Hornby, October 25th, 2013 07:20
Only if you consider the entire world to be an enemy of the US. Which is a point that could be argued, but I don't think it's official policy.
I certainly can't see any way in which this could harm national security.
Thanks for your dismissal though, nice to get it in nice and early so it's easy to tune-out.
#16 By: Nathan Hornby, October 25th, 2013 07:22
I think this comment should be a sticky at the top of every post about the NSA.
#17 By: IMB, October 25th, 2013 07:48
I saw some statement put out last night where the government was warning leaders about what might come out. I have to go find it, if I can. I think that, perhaps, different nations are customers for spying on other specific nations, but I imagine that Israel is one of the top customers who participate, or are customers, for a broad range of nations, since they are frequently referred to as "our strongest ally" and they are positioned in a critical location for US interests. You could, however, be right. They may be referring to an internal list of "customers". Hunches are never evidence or facts.
#18 By: IMB, October 25th, 2013 07:57
Here is the article. I admit that what I wrote before may have been a misinterpretation of what was said, but I suppose I latched onto this:
…..“relationships are guided by interests, rather than personalities, and, over time, interests carry the day.”
The fundamental issue is one of trust, officials said. “We depend to a very great extent on intelligence-sharing relationships with foreign partners, mostly governments — or, in some cases, organizations within governments,” a second U.S. official said. “If they tell us something, we will keep it secret. We expect the same of them. [If that trust is undermined,] these countries, at a minimum, will be thinking twice if they’re going to share something with us or not.”
Documents contain material about operations that involve countries not publicly allied with the United States.
#19 By: technogeek, October 25th, 2013 08:59
If we're going to debate something, that's probably the best place to put the debate. Not whether it has been being done, not whether it's particularly shocking or even whether it's particularly desirable, but what the ground rules should be given the new capabilities. Start with the underlying policy which sets the boundaries. Clarify existing policy so we all have something concrete to discuss. Refine that policy, with an awareness [of] possible future capabilities as well as historical/current, and preferably with an understanding of the actual requirements driving the process -- the mission of the agencies, and at least the general shape of how that mission has been interpreted by those whom the agency serves. Use that to set laws and practice... and while you're at it, consider how/whether those laws interact with commercial data gathering.
Otherwise, the outrage over individual practices or instances risks us setting rules which leave equally large gaps for the next wave of change to come along.
#20 By: bkad, October 25th, 2013 09:44
My perception, right or wrong, was that you were always being spied on it you were a willing participant in 'the game' so to speak. If you are in the military, or work for a defense company, or have a leadership role in any high tech company really, or are an influential politician (all of which are choices), you probably should assume that powers both foreign and domestic are keeping an eye on you. (Disclosure: I fall into at least one of those categories; in my case warnings about this are part of employee training.) Before Snowden though, while I believed it was possible for the three letter agencies to monitor anyone and everyone, I didn't think it was worth the cost or data reduction effort, and that civilians, totally disconnected from defense or military matters, could live in safe anonymity. That is what offends me. Sure, countries spy on each other, even allies, and if you choose to go into national politics you're signing up for that. But mundane folk are not supposed to be targets.
#21 By: Peregrinus Phoenix, October 25th, 2013 10:13
Yeah, but the thing is, everyone spies on everyone, and everyone knows that. Since time immemorial. When you catch them at it, you stick their head on a stake and parade around town stoking nationalistic fervour and fear of the "menace just outside the walls".
Like with France vs USA the other day, where I expect the reaction in the Palais of the president was not much more than a smirk and the muttered french equivalent of "pratts".
#22 By: David Witt, October 25th, 2013 11:12
If everyone spies on everyone, then Snowden was surely just playing his part in 'The Great Game,' and actually doing it for 'us' as opposed to US. Funny how the watchers don't like being watched, eh?
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