We’re spying on Europe (and they are p*ssed)

Menwith Hill, a US base for the NSA nestled in North Yorkshire. It’s the largest spy base in the world. Image from Campaign for Accountability for American Bases (CAAB).

So today’s news is the gift that keeps on giving from the Edward Snowden case. It has been revealed that the US had turned on the NSA’s surveillance prowess against the lovely people of Germany, a country whose citizenry has a well-founded fear of government snooping. When even former Stasi officials are pronouncing themselves both jealous and appalled, one can imagine how the ‘burgher in the street’ feels about all this.

Said Wolfgang Schmidt, “It is the height of naivete to think that once collected this information won’t be used,” he said. “This is the nature of secret government organizations. The only way to protect the people’s privacy is not to allow the government to collect their information in the first place.”(quote from McClatchy).

Yikes. I don’t know what’s worse here–the fact that Schmidt would probably know this is correct, or the fact that Schmidt comes off as a far better student of the erosion of civil liberties than either Joy Reid or Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC.
Other revelations that are unfolding in the tsunami of news following the Snowden case:
  • Microsoft was forced to come clean on letting the US Intelligence community know in advance when they found security flaws in their OS or other products. They let NSA spies use the head-start to try and snoop around computer systems before patch releases. That raises the question: Who paid Microsoft for their products? And why would anybody buy something from them again?
  • New revelations indicate that the US has been spying on the EU missions in the US, and having implanted ‘Dropmire’ on the Cryptofax at the EU embassy, DC.
  • Per Der Spiegel, The US was also spying on the EU’s Justus Lipsius building in Brussels – a venue for summit and ministerial meetings in the Belgian capital. And (especially damning), the spying was being conducted from the NATO headquarters nearby.
For most of the last two decades I’ve been following the work of the Campaign for Accountability of American Bases (CAAB). This is a group co-founded and coordinated by longtime peace activist Lindis Percy, who was active in the Greenham Common campaign. The locals in North Yorkshire, England were exorcised in the 1950’s over the basing of American Troops at a place called Menwith Hill and had been carrying on regular protests over their presence. Over the past two decades, Menwith Hill has been re-engineered as a giant NSA listening post for grabbing electronic intelligence (it is now the largest surveillance post in the world) and what must be particularly galling from the point of view of the locals is that much of the information gathered is NOT SHARED with the British Government.
CAAB has done yeoman’s work in laying out what Menwith Hill and its golfball-shaped radomes are up to on the English plains. It’s surveillance, all right–but the surveillance stayed on fulltime even after the Soviet Union fell apart. As this site points out, the US was not shy about using the information gathered for purposes that had nothing to do with the Cold War:
  • In 1990 the German news magazine Der Spiegel claimed that the NSA intercepted messages about a pending $200-million telecommunications deal between Indonesia and the Japanese satellite manufacturer NEC Corp. George Bush, then the U.S. president, is said to have intervened on the basis of the intelligence intercept and to have convinced the Indonesians to split the contract between NEC and US – owned AT&T.
  • In May 2000, Robert Windrem, investigative producer for NBC News in New York reported on newly unearthed documents that appear to confirm reports that Echelon was used for commercial espionage.
  • The United States admits that it regularly tracks bribery attempts by foreign companies in competition with US firms for overseas contracts – and uses that information to help US companies win those contracts.
This week, CAAB will be throwing a party for INDEPENDENCE FROM THE UNITED STATES on July 4:
The party CAAB is throwing to mark their desire for Independence FROM American surveillance on July 4 in North Yorkshire, England.

The party CAAB is throwing to mark their desire for Independence FROM American surveillance on July 4 in North Yorkshire, England. Click above to see their Declaration of Independence.

So for a select few in the UK, the surveillance may have been old news. The Germans aren’t the only people in Europe who are p*ssed about the way America is spying on them. But as grating as it must have been to put up with NSA excesses during the Cold War (and as much of a break as the world extended the US in the post 9/11 world), the world’s patience has been running out. The days of the British and the Germans and our friends in Belgium putting up with the spying coming out of NATO headquarters in Brussels may be coming to an end soon.
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