Great just great…we can’t limit our trying to erode personal freedoms to this country alone. As some who values free speech and our constitutional rights, I find this to be utterly reprehensible. Now we’ll get to suffer from economic sanctions from other countries. I guess the ‘fundamental transformation of America’ was to make it the most evil country on the planet.
Updated 4:24 p.m. ET
BERLINA top German official accused the United States on Sunday of using “Cold War” methods against its allies, after a German magazine cited secret intelligence documents to claim that U.S. spies bugged European Union offices.
Obama to Germans: America is not “rifling” through your emails
Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger was responding to a report by German news weekly Der Spiegel, which claimed that the U.S. National Security Agency eavesdropped on EU offices in Washington, New York and Brussels. The magazine cited classified U.S. documents taken by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that it said it had partly seen.
“If the media reports are accurate, then this recalls the methods used by enemies during the Cold War,” Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said in a statement to The Associated Press.
“It is beyond comprehension that our friends in the United States see Europeans as enemies,” she said, calling for an “immediate and comprehensive” response from the U.S. government to the claims.
Other European officials demanded an explanation from the U.S.
“I am deeply worried and shocked about the allegations,” European Parliament President Martin Schulz said in a statement, according to CNN. “If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-US relations. On behalf of the European Parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the U.S. authorities with regard to these allegations.”
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The revelations come at a particularly sensitive time for U.S.-E.U. relations, as long-awaited talks about a new trade pact are scheduled to begin next week. It is unclear how the latest report on NSA spying are going to affect them, but the trade pact has been a centerpiece of the Obama administrations diplomatic efforts in Europe for some time.
According to Der Spiegel, the NSA planted bugs in the EU’s diplomatic offices in Washington and infiltrated the building’s computer network. Similar measures were taken at the EU’s mission to the United Nations in New York, the magazine said.
Der Spiegel didn’t publish the alleged NSA documents it cited or say how it obtained access to them. But one of the report’s authors is Laura Poitras, an award-winning documentary filmmaker who interviewed Snowden while he was holed up in Hong Kong.
The magazine also didn’t specify how it learned of the NSA’s alleged eavesdropping efforts at a key EU office in Brussels. There, the NSA used secure facilities at NATO headquarters nearby to dial into telephone maintenance systems that would have allowed it to intercept senior EU officials’ calls and Internet traffic, Der Spiegel report said.
Germany was allegedly the focus of the European spying, according to The Guardian, categorising Washington’s key European ally alongside China, Iraq or Saudi Arabia in the intensity of the electronic snooping.
During a trip through Europe two weeks ago, President Obama assured an audience in Germany that America is not indiscriminately “rifling” through the emails of ordinary European citizens, describing the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs as a “circumscribed” system that has averted threats in America, Germany, and elsewhere.
Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger urged EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to take personal responsibility for investigating the allegations.
In Washington, a statement from the national intelligence director’s office said U.S. officials planned to respond to the concerns with their EU counterparts and through diplomatic channels with specific nations.
However, “as a matter of policy, we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations,” the statement concluded. It did not provide further details.
NSA Director Keith Alexander last week said the government stopped gathering U.S. citizens’ Internet data in 2011. But the NSA programs that sweep up foreigners’ data through U.S. servers to pin down potential threats to Americans from abroad continue.
Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” former NSA and CIA Director Mike Hayden downplayed the European outrage over the programs, saying they “should look first and find out what their own governments are doing.” But Hayden said the Obama administration should try to head off public criticism by being more open about the top-secret programs so that “people know exactly what it is we are doing in this balance between privacy and security.”
“The more they know, the more comfortable they will feel,” Hayden said. “Frankly, I think we ought to be doing a bit more to explain what it is we’re doing, why, and the very tight safeguards under which we’re operating.”
Hayden also defended a secretive U.S. court that weighs whether to allow the government to seize the Internet and phone records from private companies. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is made up of federal judges but does not consider objections from defense attorneys in considering the government’s request for records.
© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Now I’m not whack job gun owner, but as a more liberal leaning social person, I find the intrusions on citizen’s rights to be most troubling. In many ways I reminds me of the famous quote about Nazi Germany:
First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
Here’s the rub. If we don’t stand up for our rights, which range from free speech to the right to bear arms and defend ourselves, than we’re asking for trouble. A lot of people I know who are farther to the left than I am, say this abridgement is fine that we need to “reign in” some of these rights and have no problem with the spying, etc etc. Well, as I tell them, that’s all well and good, but weren’t you the same ones raising holy hell over the Patriot Act (which I despise) and G.W. Bush (who I also despise) using too much of the Federal Government’s power to control us? It was wrong then but suddenly right now because someone of the same ideology is in power??
How stupid! Just because it’s the right wing people being investigated now doesn’t mean the shoe can’t be on the other foot and then the left wing groups will be heavily investigated. Oh yes, this is a problem to my friends, but not right now. How intellectually dishonest. I have a problem with it all-regardless of who’s in power.
BY: CJ Ciaramella
Senators are questioning whether the National Security Agency collected bulk data on more than just Americans’ phone records, such as firearm and book purchases.
A bipartisan group of 26 senators, led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to detail the scope and limits of the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities in a letterreleased Friday.
“We are concerned that by depending on secret interpretations of the PATRIOT Act that differed from an intuitive reading of the statute, this program essentially relied for years on a secret body of law,” the senators wrote in the letter.
The NSA’s surveillance program has come under intense scrutiny following a leak revealing the agency harvested the phone metadata of millions of American citizens.
The senators noted that the federal government’s authority under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act is broad and rife with potential for abuse. Among the senators’ concerns was whether the NSA’s bulk data harvesting program could be used to construct a gun registry or violate other privacy laws.
“It can be used to collect information on credit card purchases, pharmacy records, library records, firearm sales records, financial information, and a range of other sensitive subjects,” the senators wrote. “And the bulk collection authority could potentially be used to supersede bans on maintaining gun owner databases, or laws protecting the privacy of medical records, financial records, and records of book and movie purchases.”
The senators asked Clapper in the letter whether the NSA used PATRIOT Act authorities to conduct bulk collection of other types of records, and whether there are any instances of the agency violating a court order in the process of such collections.
Civil libertarians say such surveillance is a violation of privacy. However, the government has defended the program, saying it helped thwart several terrorist attacks and is minimally invasive.
Second Amendment groups and Republican members of Congress have long warned against the creation of a national gun registry. Fears of such a registry bogged down several attempts to forge a bipartisan gun-control bill in the Senate earlier this year.
“In this country, the government can’t just monitor your constitutionally
protected activities—like gun ownership—just because it wants to,” said Brian Phillips, a spokesman for Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah), who signed onto the letter. “The justification that, ‘if you’re not doing anything wrong, you don’t have to worry about it,’ turns us into a police state very quickly. That’s why
Congress is right to seek broad oversight of the NSA’s data collection programs.”