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NSA shares raw data about US citizens with ’Israel’

Al Ahed news

A top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed Thursday that the National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with “Israel” without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens.

Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its “Israeli” counterpart that shows the US government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the “Israelis”.

The disclosure that the NSA agreed to provide raw intelligence data to a foreign country contrasts with assurances from the Obama administration that there are rigorous safeguards to protect the privacy of US citizens caught in the dragnet. The intelligence community calls this process “minimization”, but the memorandum makes clear that the information shared with the “Israelis” would be in its pre-minimized state.

The deal was reached in principle in March 2009, according to the undated memorandum, which lays out the ground rules for the intelligence sharing.

The five-page memorandum, termed an agreement between the US and “Israeli” intelligence agencies “pertaining to the protection of US persons”, repeatedly stresses the constitutional rights of Americans to privacy and the need for “Israeli” intelligence staff to respect these rights.

But this is undermined by the disclosure that “Israel” is allowed to receive “raw Sigint” – signal intelligence. The memorandum says: “Raw Sigint includes, but is not limited to, unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content.”

According to the agreement, the intelligence being shared would not be filtered in advance by NSA analysts to remove US communications. “NSA routinely sends ISNU the so-called “Israeli” Sigint National Unit] minimized and unminimized raw collection”, it says.

“This agreement is not intended to create any legally enforceable rights and shall not be construed to be either an international agreement or a legally binding instrument according to international law,” the document says.

In a statement to the Guardian, an NSA spokesperson did not deny that personal data about Americans was included in raw intelligence data shared with the Israelis. But the agency insisted that the shared intelligence complied with all rules governing privacy.

“Any US person information that is acquired as a result of NSA’s surveillance activities is handled under procedures that are designed to protect privacy rights,” the spokesperson said.

The NSA declined to answer specific questions about the agreement, including whether permission had been sought from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court for handing over such material.

The memorandum of understanding, which the Guardian published in full, allows Tel Aviv to retain “any files containing the identities of US persons” for up to a year. The agreement requests only that the “Israelis” should consult the NSA’s special liaison adviser when such data is found.

Notably, a much stricter rule was set for US government communications found in the raw intelligence. The “Israelis” were required to “destroy upon recognition” any communication “that is either to or from an official of the US government”. Such communications included those of “officials of the executive branch (including the White House, cabinet departments, and independent agencies), the US House of Representatives and Senate (member and staff) and the US federal court system (including, but not limited to, the supreme court)”.

It is not clear whether any communications involving members of US Congress or the federal courts have been included in the raw data provided by the NSA, nor is it clear how or why the NSA would be in possession of such communications. In 2009, however, the New York Times reported on “the agency’s attempt to wiretap a member of Congress, without court approval, on an overseas trip”.

The NSA is required by law to target only non-US persons without an individual warrant, but it can collect the content and metadata of Americans’ emails and calls without a warrant when such communication is with a foreign target. US persons are defined in surveillance legislation as US citizens, permanent residents and anyone located on US soil at the time of the interception, unless it has been positively established that they are not a citizen or permanent resident.

Moreover, with much of the world’s internet traffic passing through US networks, large numbers of purely domestic communications also get scooped up incidentally by the agency’s surveillance programs.

The document mentions only one check carried out by the NSA on the raw intelligence, saying the agency will “regularly review a sample of files transferred to ISNU to validate the absence of US persons’ identities”. It also requests that the “Israelis” limit access only to personnel with a “strict need to know”.

“Israeli” intelligence is allowed “to disseminate foreign intelligence information concerning US persons derived from raw Sigint by NSA” on condition that it does so “in a manner that does not identify the US person”. The agreement also allows “Israel” to release US person identities to “outside parties, including all INSU customers” with the NSA’s written permission.

“Balancing the Sigint exchange equally between US and “Israeli” needs has been a constant challenge,” states the report, titled ‘History of the US – “Israel” Sigint Relationship, Post-1992’. “In the last decade, it arguably tilted heavily in favor of Israeli security concerns. 9/11 came, and went, with NSA’s only true Third Party [counter-terrorism] relationship being driven almost totally by the needs of the partner.”

In another top-secret document seen by the Guardian, dated 2008, a senior NSA official points out that “Israe”l aggressively spies on the US. “On the one hand, the “Israelis” are extraordinarily good Sigint partners for us, but on the other, they target us to learn our positions on Middle East problems,” the official says. “A NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] ranked them as the third most aggressive intelligence service against the US.”

Later in the document, the official is quoted as saying: “One of NSA’s biggest threats is actually from friendly intelligence services, like “Israel”. There are parameters on what NSA shares with them, but the exchange is so robust, we sometimes share more than we intended.”

The memorandum of understanding also contains hints that there had been tensions in the intelligence-sharing relationship with “Israel”. At a meeting in March 2009 between the two agencies, according to the document, it was agreed that the sharing of raw data required a new framework and further training for “Israeli” personnel to protect US person information.

However, an earlier US document obtained by Snowden, which discusses co-operating on a military intelligence program, bluntly lists under the cons: “Trust issues which revolve around previous ISR [“Israel”] operations.

The Guardian asked the Obama administration how many times US data had been found in the raw intelligence, either by the “Israelis” or when the NSA reviewed a sample of the files, but officials declined to provide this information. Nor would they disclose how many other countries the NSA shared raw data with, or whether the Fisa court, which is meant to oversee NSA surveillance programs and the procedures to handle US information, had signed off the agreement with “Israel”.

In its statement, the NSA said: “We are not going to comment on any specific information sharing arrangements, or the authority under which any such information is collected. The fact that intelligence services work together under specific and regulated conditions mutually strengthens the security of both nations.”

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NSA documents show spy agency violated privacy rules

Al Ahed news

US intelligence officials declassified documents Tuesday revealing the National Security Agency violated privacy rules for three years when it sifted phone records of Americans with no suspected links to terrorists.

The revelations raised fresh questions about the NSA’s ability to manage the massive amount of data it collects and whether the US government is able to safeguard the privacy of its citizens.

The government was forced to disclose the documents by a judge’s order after a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit group promoting digital privacy rights and free speech.

The foundation called the release of the documents a “victory” for transparency but intelligence officials said the papers illustrated how the spy service had made unintentional “mistakes” that were rectified under strict judicial oversight.

The government “didn’t release these new NSA docs out of the goodness of their heart,” the foundation wrote in a tweet. “They were compelled to by @EFF’s lawsuit.”

The documents, including hundreds of pages of court orders, reveal privacy violations from 2006 to 2009 in NSA’s collection of phone records or “metadata,” as part of the agency’s effort to track potential terror plots.

The release came after the scale of NSA spying was exposed in a series of bombshell media leaks in recent months by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who has sought asylum in Russia.

Earlier, the documents divulged by Snowden have shown the NSA conducts a massive electronic dragnet, including trawling through phone records and online traffic, that has sometimes flouted privacy laws.

According to papers released Tuesday, the NSA reported its privacy violations to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which found that the spy service was scooping up data “from United States persons not under investigation by the FBI,” according to one court ruling.

The NSA had been permitted by the court to only search phone numbers that had “reasonable articulable suspicion” of having links to terrorism.

But out of more than 17,000 numbers on a NSA list in 2009, the agency only had reasonable suspicion for about 1,800 of the numbers, two senior intelligence officials told reporters on Tuesday.

The declassified documents shed light on friction between the NSA and the court, with judges castigating the agency for failing to abide by their orders and misrepresenting the nature of their data collection.

The documents released “show that the NSA repeatedly violated court-imposed limits on its surveillance powers, and they confirm that the agency simply cannot be trusted with such sweeping authority,” said Alex Abdo, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

The rights group has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the NSA’s collection of phone records.

Privacy, pulverized: NSA, GCHQ can bypass online encryption, new Snowden leak reveals

RT

The latest top-secret documents leaked to the media by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden reveal that United States and British spy agencies have invested billions of dollars towards efforts to make online privacy obsolete.

The New York Times, the Guardian and ProPublica all reported on Thursday that newly released Snowden documents expose the great lengths that the National Security Agency and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, have gone to in order to eavesdrop on encrypted Internet communications.

According to the latest Snowden leak, the NSA and its British counterpart have circumvented the encryption methods used to secure emails, chats and essentially most Internet traffic that was previously thought to be protected from prying eyes.

The price tag for such an endeavor, the Guardian reported, is around a quarter-of-a-billion dollars each year for just the US, and involves not just intricate code-breaking, but maintaining partnerships with the tech companies that provide seemingly secure online communication outlets.

The files show that the National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have broadly compromised the guarantees that Internet companies have given consumers to reassure them that their communications, online banking and medical records would be indecipherable to criminals or governments,” James Ball, Julian Borger and Glenn Greenwald reported for the Guardian.

Outside of the shadowy collaboration with Silicon Valley companies, the governments have also reportedly employed supercomputers capable of decrypting codes commonly used by the most popular online protocols, including HTTPS, voice-over-IP and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

For the past decade, NSA has lead [sic] an aggressive, multi-pronged effort to break widely used Internet encryption technologies,” a 2010 GCHQ document referenced by the Guardian reads. “Vast amounts of encrypted Internet data which have up till now been discarded are now exploitable.”

With regards to reaching that goal through private-sector cooperation, the Guardian reported that the NSA works with tech companies to “covertly influence” their products.

So significant is the leak, the Times and ProPublica reported, that intelligence officials asked that the documents not be published in fear that the disclosures would prompt surveillance targets, such as terrorist organization, to alter the way they communicate online.

In an editorial published alongside the scoop this week by ProPublica, reporters Stephen Engelberg and Richard Tofel said the outlet decided to go ahead with the story because “It shows that the expectations of millions of Internet users regarding the privacy of their electronic communications are mistaken.”

News of the agency’s vast code-breaking capabilities comes just weeks following the shuttering of no fewer than two Internet services that provided encrypted email for paying customers.

Last month, the founder of email provider Lavabit announced that he was shutting down his company because staying in business would likely force him “to become complicit in crimes against the American people.”

Our government can order us to do things that are morally and ethically wrong, order us to spy on other Americans and then order us, using the threat of imprisonment, to keep it all secret,” Levison told RT.

The next day, competitor Silent Circle announced they’d be suspending their encrypted email service as well.

In the three months since Snowden fled the US and began leaking classified documents to the media, a number of international outlets have published revelations made possible by the analysis of top-secret files. According to the Times, Snowden supplied reporters with 50,000 documents, and the Guardian’s Greenwald said at least dozens were, in his opinion, newsworthy.

The latest revelation comes days after the media began reporting on the leaked US intelligence “black budget” supplied by Snowden. In that document, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper prefaced an executive summary by saying that America is “investing in groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities to defeat adversarial cryptography and exploit Internet traffic.”

According to the secret funding request, the US Consolidated Cryptologic Program asked for $11 billion in fiscal year 2013 towards covert, code-breaking programs.

Classified docs: US executes cyber and spy ops, fears intelligence breach

by Carlos Latuff

Al Ahed news

The US government suspects that roughly one out of every five individuals applying for jobs in the US intelligence community has connections with “hostile” groups, according to a classified budget document.

The US intelligence agencies reinvestigated thousands of employees in a bid to minimize the risk of disclosure of secrets, according to the document, which was provided to The Washington Post by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Last year, the NSA planned to launch around 4,000 investigations of potentially suspicious employees, who downloaded multiple documents or accessed classified databases they did not normally use for their work, the newspaper said citing two people familiar with the software used to monitor employee activity.

Despite their multimillion-dollar effort to hunt for potential insider threats, the spy agencies’ detection systems did not notice that Snowden was copying highly classified documents from different parts of the NSA’s networks, the Post pointed out.

Snowden, who in June revealed NSA’s spying activities on American citizens and foreign nationals, managed to flee to Hong Kong and then to Russia, where he remains after being granted temporary asylum.

Moreover, the newspaper revealed that United States has increased its spying operation on Pakistan, a US regional ally, according to top-secret budget documents. In a series of revelations that have put the US intelligence community under a spotlight, The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the CIA has expanded its effort to gather intelligence on Pakistan in a bid to address US concerns about “biological and chemical sites” in the Asian country.

The operation was also seeking “to assess the loyalties of counterterrorism sources recruited by the CIA,” the newspaper said citing the 178-page summary of the US intelligence community’s “black budget.”

“Pakistan appears at the top of charts listing critical US intelligence gaps. It is named as a target of newly formed analytic cells. And fears about the security of its nuclear program are so pervasive that a budget section on containing the spread of illicit weapons divides the world into two categories: Pakistan and everybody else,” the Post said.

Washington has given Islamabad $26 billion in aid over the past 12 years, seeking the Pakistani support in its war against the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.

“If the Americans are expanding their surveillance capabilities, it can only mean one thing,” the Post quoted Husain Haqqani, who until 2011 served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, as saying. “The mistrust now exceeds the trust.”

US spy services also carried out 231 “offensive cyber-operations” in 2011 alone, targeting Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, according to the documents.

Under an extensive effort code-named GENIE, US computer specialists break into foreign networks so that they can be put under surreptitious US control. Budget documents say the $652 million project has placed “covert implants,” sophisticated malware transmitted from far away, in computers, routers and firewalls on tens of thousands of machines every year, with plans to expand those numbers into the millions.

New Snowden revelation details vast US intelligence “Black Budget”

by Thomas Gaist, source

Friday saw yet another exposure of closely guarded US government secrets by whistle-blower Edward Snowden, as the Washington Post published an extensive budget report covering an array of US intelligence agencies. The $52.6 billion budget published by the Post, 178 pages in length, contains a wealth of documentation concerning the finances and activities of the US “intelligence community.” Some of the information in the leaked document is, however, being withheld “after consultation with US officials.”

As the budget document shows, since 9/11 the CIA has metastasized into a global paramilitary operation that kills and tortures people around the planet, carrying out a constant reign of terror and criminality behind the backs of the American people. Funds allocated since 9/11 have financed a massive growth of CIA activities, including the creation of enhanced interrogation programs, secret “black site” prisons, and the use of drones for strike missions by intelligence personnel. As the Post wrote, “The document describes a constellation of spy agencies that track millions of surveillance targets and carry out operations that include hundreds of lethal strikes.”

Billions of dollars are collectively allocated to fund this regime of global lawlessness, without any disclosure to the American people. The US has spent more than $500 billion on intelligence since the 2001 attacks, or over $100 million per day, and the CIA has seen a gigantic growth of its budget over this period. The CIA’s proposed budget for 2013 totaled $14.7 billion, for a 56 percent increase since 2004, while the National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office were to receive over $10 billion each.

The budget contains massive outlays for information collection and processing by the CIA and NSA. The CIA spends $1.7 billion annually on data collection, and runs a joint signals intelligence collection effort with the NSA codenamed CLANSIG. The budget lists 35,000 employees as part of a “Consolidated Cryptologic Program” which brings together surveillance teams from the NSA and the four branches of the military. The NSA will also spend $48.6 million on problems related to “information overload,” that is, on efforts to manage the vast data streams being sucked in on a daily basis by the agency.

The budget also shows large allocations for military-style activities abroad run by the intelligence bureaucracies. US spy agencies will spend $4.9 billion for “overseas contingency operations” in 2013 alone. This will include $2.6 billion for covert operations carried out by the CIA, such as the secret wars the agency is waging in Pakistan and Yemen, and payments to proxy militias such as the Al Qaeda-linked proxy forces fighting against the Assad regime in Syria, including the al Nusra Front.

Staggering quantities of money are being spent to sustain America’s intelligence forces. The NSA itself will receive over $10 billion this year, all of which sustain NSA efforts to spy on the population of United States and of the entire world. Across the United States, schools are being gutted, jobs slashed, and medical facilities shuttered, yet well over $50 billion per a year is dedicated to unconstitutional spying, extra-judicial murder and systematic torturing in a global prison network.

The release of such detailed and comprehensive information about the intelligence budget to the public is unprecedented. As Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists told the Post, “a real grasp of the structure and operations of the intelligence bureaucracy has been totally beyond public reach. This kind of material, even on a historical basis, has simply not been available.”

This information about the intelligence bureaucracies and their activities has become available only as a result of Snowden’s actions. The danger that its secrets could be revealed by principled opponents of spying such as Snowden has not been lost on the NSA, however, and the documents show repeated investigations of thousands of analysts this year as part of an attempt to avoid “potential insider compromise of sensitive information.”

That an attack on Syria is going ahead anyway despite massive popular opposition is an expression of the domination of the American state by Wall Street and the vast military-intelligence apparatus exhibited in Snowden’s latest release. These forces are determined to attack Syria, and from all appearances they will carry out their bloody plans. Responsibility for launching another neocolonial catastrophe lies with the reactionary social interests that control the US economy and state, the capitalist class and the upper-middle class layers that defend capitalist rule.

These are the same forces that have poured weaponry into Syria to fund opposition militias dominated by Al Qaeda. Today, in the face of overwhelming opposition, they are pressing for a war in which US planes will ride to the rescue of US-backed Al Qaeda fighters on the ground, in the name of upholding “international norms.” And, as the budget document’s assertion makes clear—that operations are “strategically focused against the priority targets of China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel”—operations in Syria are only a prelude to confrontation with the other major powers. Pakistan is also referred to as an “intractable target.”

According to the authoritarian legal doctrines that have gained influence with the growth of the national security state and the financial oligarchy, which derive from the theories of Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt, the existence of exceptional circumstances, such as a terrorist threat, authorizes the state to override all legal protections, such as those guaranteed by the US Bill of Rights. The prevalence of such conceptions only points to the underlying reality: the intelligence bureaucracy and the social forces that control it are effectively above the law, and will tolerate no limits on their power.

It is only a matter of time before these instruments of repression are turned against mass struggles within the United States itself. Faced with the deep crisis of world capitalism, the ruling elites will increasingly seek to rely on war abroad and military-police repression at home in defense of their privileges.

Snowden Leaks: UK operates secret Middle East web surveillance base

Al Ahed news

The UK has been working on a secret Middle East web surveillance base which is a part of a $1.5 billion project, a new report suggests. It intercepts and gathers emails, telephone calls, and web traffic for Western intelligence.

According to Edward Snowden’s leaked documents, as studied by The Independent, “The secret internet-monitoring project is still a work in progress and is being organized by the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters [GCHQ].”

The intelligence station can intercept data both by satellite and underwater fiber-optic cables that pass through the Middle East. The data will then be copied into large computer storage “buffers.” After that, it can be analyzed and passed on to CGHQ, where it later can be shared with the National Security Agency [NSA].

In response to the leaked information, the UK argues that the base is central for the West’s “war on terror” and helps with “early warning” when it comes to possible attacks. It can also gain access to submarine cables passing through the region.

British intelligence sources maintain the base is used strictly to monitor “security, terror and organized crime.”
In its article, The Independent made clear that it was not revealing the exact location of the base. It did say that it received the information from the 50,000 top-secret GCHQ documents leaked by Snowden, many of which the whistleblower downloaded from “an internal Wikipedia-style information site called GC-Wiki” in 2012.

The UK’s main concern is that the location of the secret Middle East web intelligence base will become known in the public domain, according to the newspaper.

The base is part of a larger US$1.5 billion surveillance project code-named “Tempora,” whose overall goal of global interception of digital communications was revealed earlier though Snowden’s leaked documents.

The Middle East base was created after a warrant was signed by then Foreign Secretary David Miliband. It gave permission to the GCHQ to monitor, store, and analyze data that passed through the fiber-optic cables that link up the internet around the world.

It is worth mentioning that the issued certificates allow GCHQ to collect information about the “‘political intentions of foreign powers,’ terrorism, proliferation, mercenaries and private military companies, and serious financial fraud.”

Certificates are reissued every six months and ministers have the authority to change them at will.
GCHQ was essentially given the power to monitor anyone overseas or communicating from overseas, bypassing all other legal checks and balances in place in the UK.

The budget of the Middle East base alone is not known.

The revelation follows the Metropolitan Police’s launch of a terrorism investigation into information found on the computer of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda. The data, along with all of Miranda’s electronic devices, was seized during a nine-hour detention in Heathrow airport on Sunday. British authorities held Miranda under Schedule 7 of the UK’s Terrorism Act.

British police said the information found is “highly sensitive,” the disclosure of which “could put lives at risk.”

The Guardian newspaper took the case to court on Thursday to demand the materials seized from Greenwald’s Brazilian partner be protected by injunction.

The court ruled on Thursday that British authorities can sift through electronic documents seized from Miranda, in the interests of “national security.” The two judges gave authorities until August 30 to analyze “thousands” of documents, according to a police lawyer.

UK destroys Guardian hard drives to stop Snowden publications

by Carlous Latuff

Al Ahed news “Security experts” raided the British Guardian’s office and destroyed hard drives to stop publications of documents leaked by former NSA contractor whistleblower Edward Snowden. The daily along with the Washington Post had published classified documents on the tight surveillance that the American National Security Agency (NSA) has over citizens worldwide and in the US and revealed monitoring of internet activities, which sparked debate among Americans and worldwide governments. The US administration claims that this surveillance aims at stopping potential terrorist threats and plots, however controversy questions how effective this surveillance when it comes to monitoring activities made on the internet. On this note, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger wrote in the Monday issue of the paper that the British government officials watched as computers containing classified information passed on by Snowden were physically destroyed in one of the newspaper building’s basements. The officials had ordered Guardian employees to destroy the paper’s hard drives in an attempt to halt further publications of the Snowden documents. “Bluntly, we did not have to do our reporting from London. Already most of the NSA stories were being reported and edited out of New York. And had it occurred to him that [reporter Glenn] Greenwald lived in Brazil?” Rusbridger wrote. Rusbridger further pointed out that “the whole incident felt like a pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age.” This “security” procedure comes after Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda was held at London’s Heathrow airport under the UK Terrorism Act for nine hours before being released without pressing charges. Moreover, Rusbridger promised that the paper “will continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents, we just won’t do it in London. The seizure of Miranda’s laptop, phones, hard drives and camera will similarly have no effect on Greenwald’s work.” Greenwald, who first published secrets leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, had also promised to release more documents. He added that the UK would be “sorry” for detaining his partner for nine hours. Snowden, who has been granted asylum by Russia, gave Greenwald up to 20,000 documents with details about the US National Security Agency and the UK’s GCHQ surveillance operations. The latest release of top-secret documents revealed last week by the Washington Post that the NSA has broken privacy rules thousands of times each year since 2008.

Obama cancels Moscow meeting with Putin over Snowden

by Carlos Latuff

Obama Cancels Moscow Meeting with Putin over Snowden

Al Manar

US President Barack Obama has canceled a meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow which was scheduled for September, AP reports, Russia Today reported. The move comes after Russia’s recent decision to grant temporary asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

With few signs that progress would be made during the Moscow summit on this and other agenda items, officials said the president decided to cancel the talks.

“We’ll still work with Russia on issues where we can find common ground, but it was the unanimous view of the president and his national security team that a summit did not make sense in the current environment,” White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said.

Rhodes also stated that the decision to grant Snowden temporary asylum within Russia’s borders “exacerbated” an already tumultuous relationship between the two nations.

Instead of visiting Putin in Moscow, Obama will add a stop in Sweden to his early September travel itinerary.

The decision follows Obama’s comments on Tuesday evening’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno that “here have been times where they slip back into Cold-War thinking and a Cold-War mentality. And what I consistently say to them, and what I say to President Putin, is that’s the past and we’ve got to think about the future, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to cooperate.”

A White House official later confirmed the cancellation of the meeting. While Snowden’s temporary residency permit is the catalyst for the summit being called off, the US cites “lack of progress” pertaining to other differences between the two countries.

Snowden, whose US passport has been revoked, was granted one year’s temporary asylum in Russia last Thursday. The whistleblower is wanted in the US on espionage charges after revealing secret NSA surveillance programs to the public.

Among other issues, Russia and the US have considerable differences over the situation in Syria, with the US government determined to see President Bashar Assad ousted from his position. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees gave a green light to arm Syrian rebels at the end of July.

The last time the two leaders met was in June at the G8 Summit in Ireland.

The G20 summit will be held on September 5-6, with the US deeming it sensible to still attend, as the annual gathering brings together the world’s largest economies. Obama said that it makes sense for the US to have high-level representation at the event.

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Journalist Publishing Snowden Documents Says 20,000 Documents in His Possession

Al Ahed news

The journalist who published classified US documents obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden Glenn Greenwald said he possesses up to 20,000 secret US government files.

Greenwald made the comment before a Brazilian Senate foreign relations committee on Tuesday.

“I did not do an exact count, but he gave me 15,000, 20,000 documents. Very, very complete and very long,” Greenwald told Brazilian lawmakers.

“The stories we have published are a small portion. There will certainly be more revelations on the espionage activities of the US government and allied governments…on how they have penetrated the communications systems of Brazil and Latin America,” he said.

Moreover, Brazilian O Globo magazine recently published that Washington had maintained at one time a spy center in the capital of Brasilia as part of a network designed to intercept foreign satellite transmissions.

This prompted US Vice President Joe Biden last month to call Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to provide an explanation.

“The pretext [given by Washington] for the spying is only one thing: terrorism and the need to protect the [American] people. But the reality is that there are many documents which have nothing to do with terrorism or national security, but have to do with competition with other countries, in the business, industrial and economic fields,” Greenwald noted on Tuesday.

Last month, leaks by Snowden revealed to a covert surveillance program that collects metadata named XKeyscore used by the NSA to monitor internet traffic.

In his Tuesday testimony, Greenwald described the system as not only able to collect metadata “but also the content of emails and what is being discussed in telephone conversations. It is a powerful program which frightens.”

This comes as US President Barack Obama expressed “disappointment” over Russia’s temporary asylum to Snowden instead of sending him back to the US to face espionage charges.

In response to the asylum, Obama had remarked that the situation reflected “underlying challenges” in dealing with Moscow.

“There have been times where they slip back into cold war thinking and a cold war mentality,” Obama said on NBC’s Tonight Show.

He further confirmed his trip to Russia to attend the G20 summit in September, which was earlier said to be postponed over the Snowden issue.

The White House had stated earlier in this regards that it was reevaluating the trip for its “utility.”

X-Keyscore: Most dangerous US spying program & Russia grants Snowden one-year asylum

X-Keyscore: Most Dangerous US Spying Program in the World

Al Ahed news

On late Wednesday, The British Guardian daily published classified documents leaked by wanted fugitive Edward Snowden showing that the CIA uses a covert program to monitor internet activity called “XKeyscore”.

According to the daily, the NSA tool “collects nearly everything a user does on the internet”.

The program allows analysts to search with no legal authorization through databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals.

“Training materials for XKeyscore detail how analysts can use it and other systems to mine enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search,” the daily reported.

“Under US law, the NSA is required to obtain an individualized Fisa warrant only if the target of their surveillance is a US person, though no such warrant is required for intercepting the communications of Americans with foreign targets,” the Guardian noted.

Moreover, one training slide displayed on the Guardian illustrates the digital activity constantly being collected by XKeyscore and the analyst’s ability to query the databases at any time.

Analysts can search by name, telephone number, IP address, keywords, the language in which the internet activity was conducted or the type of browser used.

A slide entitled “plug-ins” in a December 2012 document describes the various fields of information that can be searched. It includes “every email address seen in a session by both username and domain”, “every phone number seen in a session (eg address book entries or signature block)” and user activity – “the webmail and chat activity to include username, buddylist, machine specific cookies etc”.

Also, one top-secret document describes how the program searches within bodies of emails, webpages and documents, including the “To, From, CC, BCC lines” and the ‘Contact Us’ pages on websites.

Furthermore, the daily mentioned that an NSA tool called DNI Presenter, used to read the content of stored emails, also enables an analyst using XKeyscore to read the content of Facebook chats or private messages.

An analyst can monitor such Facebook chats by entering the Facebook user name and a date range into a simple search screen.

Analysts can search for internet browsing activities using a wide range of information, including search terms entered by the user or the websites viewed.

As one slide indicates, the ability to search HTTP activity by keyword permits the analyst access to what the NSA calls “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet”.

While the Fisa Amendments Act of 2008 requires an individualized warrant for the targeting of US persons, NSA analysts are permitted to intercept the communications of such individuals without a warrant if they are in contact with one of the NSA’s foreign targets.

An example is provided by one XKeyscore document showing an NSA target in Tehran communicating with people in Frankfurt, Amsterdam and New York.

One downside of the XKeyscore system is that it continuously collects so much internet data that it can be stored only for short periods of time.

Content remains on the system for only three to five days, while metadata is stored for 30 days. One document explains: “At some sites, the amount of data we receive per day (20+ terabytes) can only be stored for as little as 24 hours.”

“To solve this problem, the NSA has created a multi-tiered system that allows analysts to store “interesting” content in other databases, such as one named Pinwale which can store material for up to five years,” the Guardian said.

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Russia Grants US Leaker Snowden One-Year Asylum

Al Manar

Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden on Thursday left the Moscow airport where he has been holed up for over a month, after being granted one year’s asylum in Russia, his lawyer said.

Russia’s surprised decision to award Snowden asylum just two weeks after the application was made risks a diplomatic row with the United States, which had previously described such a prospect as “deeply disappointing”.

“Snowden has left Sheremetyevo airport. He has just been given a certificate that he has been awarded temporary asylum in Russia for one year,” his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told media outlets.

The lawyer, who had held several meetings with Snowden and helped him make his asylum application on July 16, added his new place of residence would be kept secret for security reasons.

Snowden, 30, is wanted on felony charges by the United States after leaking details of vast US surveillance programs, but Russia has refused to extradite
him.

Interviewed by Rossiya 24 television, Kucherena held up a scanned copy of Snowden’s certificate granting him a year’s temporary asylum in Russia.

Snowden has been staying in the transit zone of the Sheremetyevo airport north of Moscow since he flew in from Hong Kong on June 23. Until now, he had never formally crossed the Russian border.

His awarding of asylum status in Russia came two days after US soldier Bradley Manning was convicted of espionage on Tuesday for leaking US secrets to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy advisor Yury Ushakov rapidly sought to limit the potential diplomatic damage, saying that the situation should not affect relations with Washington.

He also played down speculation that the dispute over Snowden could prompt President Barack Obama to cancel a planned visit for bilateral talks to Moscow in September ahead of the Saint Petersburg G20 summit.

“We know what sort of noise surrounds this (situation) in America, but we have not received any signals from the United States” regarding the cancellation of Obama’s visit to Moscow, he added.

Putin’s Kremlin had sought to distance itself from the whole affair, saying the question was in the hands of the migration authorities.

The end of press freedom: Freedom and spy control

by GRAHAM PEEBLES, source

As millions take to the streets demanding political participation, social justice and freedom, opponents to change – governments and reactionary forces worldwide – centralise power, tighten control of civil society and the media and trample on democratic ideals. The dangerous accumulation of powers, “legislative, executive, and judiciary” – the “father of the [American] constitution” James Madison wrote, “in the same hands whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

Respect and trust for political leaders and governments throughout the world is at an all- time low. In Britain MORI tells us that only “18% trust politicians to tell the truth,” and only “one in twelve believe MPs put the interests of their constituents first”. A survey by Transparency International (TI), found that “on a worldwide basis, political parties are considered to be the most corrupt institutions”, followed closely by the police. Political leaders, politicians and members of the civil service, “those responsible, for running countries and upholding the rule of law… are seen as the most corrupt”, they are “judged to be abusing their positions of power and acting in their own interests rather than for the citizens they are there to represent and serve”.

Edward Snowden and the NSA

Perceptions of government dishonesty and deceit have been compounded by the recent revelations from Edward Snowden, which exposed extensive government spying, by America’s National Security Agency (NSA).

Snowden, a former technical assistant for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), for the last four years was contracted to work for the NSA – “the biggest and most secretive surveillance organization in America”, The Guardian (8/07/2013) report. During this time, he discovered the extensive nature of secret surveillance operations being carried out by the NSA who, he says, “are intent on making every conversation and every form of behaviour in the world known to them”. It is Snowden’s affirmed belief that the people have the right to know of such paranoid, criminal intentions; “my sole motive” he has said, “is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”

The revelations of unconstitutional spying, on hundreds of millions of American citizens by the NSA, which appears to operate as a ‘state within a state’, shows, as Glenn Greenwald makes clear, how “the rule of law [which maintains all in society – including political and financial institutions, are bound on equal terms by a set of common laws] in America has been radically degraded”. The NSA’s operations reveal how dangerously close the country is to the authoritarian and controlling regime foretold by Senator Frank Church, who in 1975 said “I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency [NSA] and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision”. Far from there being “proper supervision” in place, Snowden told The Guardian that “the [US] government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to”.

Edwards Snowden’s act of conscience provides the opportunity to step back from a democratic precipice, and, as Daniel Ellsberg in his article, “Have we been saved from the United Stasi of America” writes, take back “what has amounted to an executive coup” against the US constitution”. Since the tragic events of 9/11, governments worldwide have appropriated greater and greater levels of control and, in the name of national security, centralised power. In the US “a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago”, has taken place, “In particular the fourth and fifth amendments of the American constitution, which safeguard people’s privacy from government intrusion, have been virtually suspended”.

Snowden’s courageous actions expose the shocking extent of US government spying and theft of personal data, on its own citizens and those of America’s allies – unconstitutional (and therefore criminal) practices, using previously unknown hi-tech programmes, which he felt duty bound to make public. Ellsberg expresses the widespread view that “there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago.” Whist Snowden may well have technically committed a criminal act, justice and the law are often unrelated terms, as Martin Luther King made clear in his famous ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’, “one who breaks an unjust law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustices. Is in reality expressing the highest aspect of the law”.

Us v’s Them

The government has charged Snowden with “theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorised person”, The Guardian (22/06/2013) reports. He is the most recent, and perhaps the most significant, of a troop of whistleblowers to be criminalised by the Obama administration, which has indicted more people under the 1917 Espionage Act than all previous presidents combined. Indeed it is thought, that President “Obama may be breaking the record for US presidents for violation of civil rights and [the] law.” (Noam Chomsky, quoting Professor Jonathan Turley) This is quite a record for a president who, in his 2007 pre-election propaganda, attacked the Bush administration, saying it “acts like violating our civil liberties is the way to enhance our security, it is not.” Obama went on to say there would be no spying on American citizens who are not suspected of a crime. And politicians wonder why nobody trusts them.

Stating Snowden has “actively aided America’s enemies”; a charge for which there is no evidence at all, the Obama administration, US legislators and the US media are content to paint him as a traitor. The mainstream press seems unconcerned by the NSA’s gross infringement of the human rights of millions of innocent civilians, or the wider threat to media freedom that this matter has shown. Acting on behalf of the government, the media are attempting to restrict the issues of privacy, national security and violations of civil liberties raised by Snowden’s revelations, to a nationalistic discourse, of ‘Us versus ‘Them’. With the sparkling clean men in red, white and blue, sacrificing freedom in the name of security, constituting ‘Us’, (in opposition to the unholy) ‘Them’: undemocratic disbelievers, who, disagreeing with the American model are seen as ‘Anti-American’ and therefore branded as terrorists. Snowden, unsurprisingly, is being cast as one of ‘Them’. “I know the media likes to personalise political debates, and I know the government will demonise me,” Snowden told The Guardian, but “ I am not afraid”.

Global Intrusions

The NSA does not confine its illegal operations to the shores of America, nor is it alone in assuming illegitimate, unconstitutional levels of power that violate people’s human rights and invade their privacy. Glenn Greenwald author of ‘Liberty and Justice for Some’, states – that the US “imposes standards [of legal conduct] on everybody else but exempts itself”, in the same way, he maintains as the elite, who “have committed some of the most egregious crimes of the last decade”, without any legal accountability, “has implemented for everybody else the western worlds harshest and most oppressive [legal] system by far”. Double standards followed not just by the US administration that people throughout the world are waking up to, as the recent worldwide protest movement’s show.

In addition to national surveillance by the NSA, The Guardian revealed that the British had their own paranoid men in grey suits in residence at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), who in 2009, whilst the G20 Summit in London was in full swing, monitored the computers and phone calls of “foreign politicians and officials”. This and a great deal more “evidence is contained in documents – classified as top secret. Seen by the Guardian”.

Soon after these revelations La Monde disclosed that France’s Directorate General for External Security (DGSE) had mass surveillance systems in place, that are “illegal and outside any serious control”. O Globo (12/07/2013) in Brazil announced that, “in the last decade, people residing or in transit in Brazil, as well as companies operating in the country, have become targets of the NSA” to the extent that “last January (2012) Brazil was just behind the United States, which had 2.3 billion phone calls and messages spied.”

Der Spiegel in Germany reported that documents provided by Snowden show that the NSA had not only been listening to millions of Americans, but they also spy on diplomats from the European Union, in Brussels, Washington DC and at the United Nations in New York. Apparently Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Britain are excluded from NSA intrusions, but in a typical month they may tap up to half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany, who are, the documents make clear, their number one target in Europe.

Unjust imprisonment

Since 20th May, when he left his office in Hawaii for the Chinese territory of Hong Kong, Snowden has been in hiding. We are told he is now in the international transit lounge at Moscow airport and has applied for temporary asylum in Russia. He is entitled to request political asylum from any country in the world (despite having his passport revoked by the US State Department) and Wikileaks report he has in fact requested asylum in 21 countries, one of which was indeed Brazil, who (surprisingly – given the level of NSA intrusion) refused his application. Asked if he would “trade access to his documents for asylum. He said he would not”.

Like those other ‘consequential whistleblowers’ – Bradley Manning and Daniel Ellsberg, Snowden is a man of conscience who sees clearly that national loyalty means allegiance to the people of the country and not necessarily the government. Their stand for justice and freedom shows both loyalty and integrity, and deserves public recognition. Instead of this, they are persecuted and slandered. Having “watched the Obama administration prosecute whistleblowers at a historically unprecedented rate, Snowden ”is aware that the government will “use all its weight to punish him”, as indeed it has done with Bradley Manning and other courageous public servants.

Arrested in Baghdad in May 2010 and imprisoned without trial ever since – a total of three years, much of which was spent in “extreme” solitary confinement, when he was “ forced to sleep naked without pillows and sheets on his bed, and restricted from physical recreation or access to television or newspapers even during his one daily hour of freedom from his cell, all under the pretense that the private was a suicide risk”, The Daily Beast (5/06/2013) reports. He is currently on trial facing a court martial. The most serious of a range of charges against him, that of ‘aiding the enemy’, has, Amnesty International (AI) state, “no basis [and], the government should withdraw that charge.” However, the government-appointed military judge, (who doubles as jury), Colonel Denise Lind, has refused to throw it out. The charge made against Manning, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (with to date 65,000 nominations), is one of the most severe available to the military, and is a sign of the Obama administrations continuing war on whistleblowers that, The Guardian (18/07/2013) make clear, ”could have far-reaching consequences for investigative journalism.”

The suppression of information is a major attack, not only on those whose conscience compels them to speak out, but to the freedom of the press. Chris Hedges, speaking on Democracy Now, states that without men like Snowden and Manning, “there will be no free press”. They have provided information about the unconstitutional activity of their governments to the public and should be applauded for their moral courage. The American government is attempting to demonise anyone who reveals publicly what the government is doing in secret; “we are at a situation now by which any investigation into the inner workings of government [by the media] has become impossible. That’s the real debate”.

Newspapers have been attacked as guilty accomplices for publishing Snowden’s material by American politicians, Republican member of Congress for New York, Peter King, told CNN “action should be taken … against reporters”. He is clearly unfamiliar with the first amendment of the US constitution, which protects the freedom of the press, and as Professor Geoffrey Stones makes clear is “simply wrong”. Nevertheless such comments, albeit uneducated ones, show the dangers and indeed the desire in some quarters, to impose controls on the press.

Snowden, like Manning before him is “being charged by the US government primarily for revealing its – and other governments’ – unlawful actions that violate human rights. He has disclosed issues of enormous public interest in the US and around the world”. (Amnesty International) The villains of the piece are the politicians, distrusted and disrespected, together with the men inside the NSA’s of the world, who spend their shadowy days sifting through the communications of millions of innocent men and women without their consent and, until Snowden’s revelations, without their knowledge. Political leaders are sanctioning what is dangerous and unconstitutional activity by the intelligence agencies, which, in place to protect the people, have themselves become a cause of national (and indeed international) insecurity by creating an atmosphere of mistrust and fear. The wholesale “invasion of privacy” by the NSA and others “does not contribute to our security”, states Daniel Ellsberg, but rather, “it puts in danger the very liberties we’re trying to protect”.

Snowden can leave Moscow airport: Report

by Carlos Latuff

Press TV

American whistleblower Edward Snowden has been given a document that would allow him to leave Moscow’s main international airport after one month.

Snowden’s lawyer Anatoly Kucherena received the document on Wednesday, Russian media reported on Wednesday.

The former National Security Agency contractor, who is charged with espionage in the United States, could leave the Sheremetyevo airport in the next hours.

Snowden leaked to the news media details of two top-secret US government spying programs – one that collects massive amounts of information on phone calls made by Americans and the other, codenamed PRISM, sweeps up data on US citizens and other nationals via the Internet. He also revealed that the US spies on its European and Latin American allies.

Snowden has been staying in the transit zone of the airport since June 23 and applied for temporary asylum in Russia last week.

According to the reports, the leaker’s asylum request is being considered by Russian officials, but it would take up to three months to process.

Temporary asylum would allow Snowden to remain in Russia for one year and would require annual renewal. Snowden may appeal the decision in court if his request is rejected by the Russian Immigration Service.

Granting asylum to the American leaker would further increase tensions between the United States and Russia after their recent verbal arguments over Snowden’s month-long stay at Sheremetyevo airport.

Earlier this month, US President Barack Obama called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to convince him to extradite Snowden, but Putin has refused the request, saying Washington trapped Snowden in Moscow.

The Obama administration has repeatedly warned Russia about consequences of Moscow’s refusal.

“The Russian government has an opportunity here to work with us,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “This should not be something that causes long-term problems for US-Russian relations.”

However, Sergei Gorlenko, the acting chief of the prosecutor general’s extradition office, pushed back against US calls to hand over Snowden, saying Washington routinely ignores Moscow’s extradition requests.

“The United States is repeatedly refusing Russia to extradite individuals, to hold them criminally liable, including those accused of committing serious or heinous crimes,” he said. “We have been denied the extradition of murderers, bandits and bribe-takers.”

Spokesman for the Russian Interior Ministry Andrey Pilipchuk also said, “Law agencies asked the US on many occasions to extradite wanted criminals through Interpol channels, but those requests were neither met nor even responded to.”

Italy, Portugal apologize to Bolivia for blocking airspace to its presidential plane

Press TV

Italy and Portugal have officially apologized for involvement in illegally rerouting the plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales earlier this month during a flight home from Moscow.

Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca announced Wednesday that Italian and Portuguese officials apologized for the controversial incident on July 3rd, when a number Western European countries closed their airspace to the presidential aircraft on a false suspicion that leaker of US electronic spying Edward Snowden was onboard, forcing the plane to land in Vienna on July 3.

“It was not only Spain, which sent us a letter with excuses, but Italy and Portugal as well,” Choquehuanca stated, adding that the ministry would consider the apology letters on Wednesday and will later issue a reply…

Spain apologizes for role in Morales jet ban

by Carlos Latuff

Press TV

Spain has apologized to Bolivia for its parts in the recent incident, in which Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane was forbidden to fly over some European countries on the rumors that US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden was onboard.

Ambassador Angel Vazquez delivered on Monday the official apology to the Bolivian Foreign Ministry in La Paz.

Varquez gave a statement acknowledging an “apology for the obstacle and the hardships caused to the president.”

France, Spain, Portugal and Italy all refused to allow Morales’ plane, which was flying home on July 2 from Moscow, to cross their airspace.

The presidential plane was forced to land in Vienna, Austria where it was searched by authorities on false rumors that US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was on board.

The Bolivian Foreign Ministry accused the Europeans of bowing to US pressure when it banned Morales’ plane.

After the incident, Morales revealed that Spain’s ambassador to Austria had tried to conduct a search of the aircraft.

“We recognize publicly that perhaps the procedures used in the Vienna airport by our representative were not the most effective,” said Vaszquez.

“We regret this fact … the procedure was not appropriate and bothered the president (Morales), putting him in a difficult situation.”

The incident also caused strong condemnation from several countries in Latin American, including Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who called it a “provocation” that concerned” all of Latin America.”

Meanwhile, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia have all offered asylum to Snowden, who is holed up at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport since June 23, when he landed in Russia from Hong Kong.

Latin America united against US over espionage

by Yusuf Fernandez, source

Anger is growing in Latin America over the US espionage disclosed by former CIA agent and current whistleblower, Edward Snowden. The recent meeting of the Mercosur, the common market organization of South America, in Montevideo (Uruguay) focused largely on US espionage against Latin Americans.

The summit issued a statement in which it condemned US “illegal acts of espionage that threaten citizens’ rights and the friendly co-existence between nations.”

The statement also expressed solidarity with the governments of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, which have offered to grant asylum to Snowden, who has exposed extensive illegal spying by the US National Security Agency. The Mercosur statement reiterated that states have a right under international law to grant asylum.

Shortly before, Latin American Presidents showed their solidarity with Bolivian President, Evo Morales, whose plane was forced to land in Vienna for 14 hours due to the negative of four European countries (France, Spain, Portugal and Italy), under US pressure, to allow it to overfly their air space for fear that Snowden was on board.

This act was a clear violation of international treaties and air traffic agreements. It also put the lives of President Morales and other Bolivian officials who travelled in the aircraft at risk.

As a result, Mercosur countries have summoned their ambassadors in the four above-mentioned European states and have demanded an official explanation and “public apologies” from them for their “neo-colonial practices”.

These Latin American meetings took place amid the growing scandal over NSA spying activities in the continent. According to several sources, the NSA has targeted most Latin American nations in its activities. Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Paraguay, Chile and El Salvador are among the countries that have been spied by the agency, according to the Brazilian newspaper O Globo, which cited documents leaked by Snowden. Significantly, some of these countries, such as Mexico and Colombia, have been close US allies for a long time.

The documents showed that the NSA´s PRISM program has collected emails, faxes, searches, chats and files from Latin American individuals, companies and government agencies through US companies working in Internet such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Skype.

At least, data from 5 Latin American satellites were also intercepted in 2012. “Special Collection Service” centers were created by the NSA and the CIA in some Latin American capitals, such as Bogota, Caracas, Brasilia, Mexico City and Panama City, in order to collect data from these satellites.

The documents showed that US espionage targeted not only military or political aspects but also commercial and energy issues, such as the oil production in Mexico and Venezuela.

This fact has fueled particular concern among Latin American companies, as this espionage damages their interests and favors the position of US corporations in their struggle to control the region´s economies.

The US government is currently worried about the increase of trading links and foreign investments from China, Russia and Europe in Latin America, a region that Washington still considers its “courtyard”. China especially has been developing its ties with Latin American countries in several fields, including energy, in recent years.

Bolivia rejects US envoy

On July 13, Morales claimed US intelligence had hacked into the email accounts of senior Bolivian officials amid growing concerns about Washington’s secret surveillance programs. “US intelligence agents have accessed the emails of our most senior authorities in Bolivia,” Morales said in a speech. “It was recommended to me that I not use email, and I have followed suit and shut it down,” the Bolivian president added.

Some days earlier, Morales had threatened to expel the US diplomatic mission and shut down its embassy. “We do not need the pretext of cooperation and diplomatic relations so that they can come and spy on us,” said the Bolivian president.

Bolivian Interior Minister Carlos Romero also revealed that La Paz had rejected a diplomat suggested by Washington as the new US ambassador to the Latin American country.

Romero said in an interview that the decision was made due to the negative remarks of James Nealon, the proposed ambassador, about the governments of Bolivia and Venezuela.

In a secret document revealed by WikiLeaks in 2011, Nealon, who was Washington’s ambassador to Peru at the time, accused “anti-system” Bolivian President Evo Morales of trying to destabilize Peruvian President Alan Garcia with the support of the of Venezuela and Ecuador.

The US had proposed Nealon as its new ambassador to La Paz in December 2012. It is worth recalling that Morales expelled former US Ambassador to La Paz Philip S. Goldberg in 2008, arguing that he was attempting to undermine the Bolivian government.

Other Latin American countries have also protested against US spying activities. Colombia’s foreign ministry “showed its concern” that there had been an “unauthorized data collection program” and asked the US government to give an account of its actions through its embassy in Bogota.
“In rejecting the acts of espionage that violate people’s rights and intimacy as well as the international conventions on telecommunication, Colombia requests the corresponding explanations from the US government through its ambassador to Colombia,” Reuters quoted the ministry as saying.

For his part, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala said that the espionage was worrisome. “We are against these kinds of spying activities,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

“It would be good for Congress to look with concern at privacy issues related to personal information.” “This is the world we live in; a world with new forms of colonialism,” Argentini4n President Cristina Fernandez said. “It is more subtle than it was two centuries ago, when they came with armies to take our silver and gold.”

Brazil case

O Globo reported that the NSA and CIA have also collected telephone calls and emails in Brazil, the biggest country of Latin America and a leading member of international blocs such as UNASUR, MERCOSUR, CELAC and BRICS.

After these data were published, Brazil’s telecommunications agency said that it would investigate whether local operators had violated customer privacy rules by cooperating with US agencies. According to O Globo, the espionage of Brazilian communications took place through US companies that are partners with Brazilian firms.

For her part, President Dilma Rousseff warned that if the reports prove true, and so far every indication is that they will, they will represent “violations of sovereignty and human rights.”

Some Brazilian congressmen have called on the Brazilian government to cancel defense contracts with US companies in retaliation and others have stated that Brazil should offer asylum to Snowden.

Gilberto Carvalho, a top aide to President Dilma Rousseff, said a “very hard” response to Washington was needed. “If we lower our heads, they will trample all over us tomorrow,” he said. According to Reuters, Anatel, the country´s telecommunications regulator has announced that it will work with the federal police to determine whether local telephone operators have broken any laws.

US double standards

For its part and instead of answering Latin American concerns regarding to its spying activities, Washington is still showing its old bully attitude in its relations with these countries.

“All across the region, American embassies have communicated Washington´s message that letting Snowden into Latin America, even if he shows up unexpectedly, would have lasting consequences”, claimed a recent article published in the New York Times. A senior State Department official told the Times that aiding Snowden “would put relations (of these countries with the US) in a very bad place for a long time to come.”

Some Latin American media has criticized these open threats and accused the US of using double standards here too. In fact, Washington has rejected the extradition to Venezuela of Luis Posada Carriles, a former CIA operative and terrorist who allegedly masterminded the bombing of a Cuban plane that killed 73 people in the 1970s.

He escaped from a Venezuelan prison in the 1980s and is currently living in the US. Similarly, Washington has ignored Bolivian demand to extradite Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, who was President from 2002 to 2003 and fled Bolivia after he was ousted by massive protests against his plan to sell Bolivian gas resources to foreign companies. De Lozada now faces charges of genocide in his country for ordering the military to fire on unarmed protesters in 2003. More than 60 people were killed due to these facts.

The spying scandal will certainly deal a serious blow to US influence in Latin America at a time when it was already diminishing. “A region that was once a broad zone of American power has become increasingly confident in its ability to act independently”, said a recent article in the New York Times. “Our influence in the hemisphere is diminishing,” acknowledged Bill Richardson, a former US ambassador to the United Nations.

In any case, US bully policies might well prove unsuccessful this time, when Latin America is striving to increase its unity and integration. “The State Department and the government of the United States should know that Venezuela learned a long time ago to defeat pressures from any part of the world,” Venezuelan foreign minister, El?as Jaua, said. Other Latin American countries will surely think the same.

UN Human Rights chief: Whistleblowers need protection

by Carlos Latuff

UN Human Rights chief: Whistleblowers need protection

Al Manar

In her first reference to whistleblower Edward Snowden’s case, UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay has called on all countries to protect the rights of those who uncover abuses and stressed the need to respect the right for people to seek asylum.

Commenting on the fugitive former US intelligence contractor, who is presently wanted by the US for leaking classified details of its surveillance programs, Pillay noted that undue surveillance could amount to an infringement of human rights.

“National legal systems must ensure that there are adequate avenues for individuals disclosing violations of human rights to express their concern without fear of reprisals,” said Pillay.

“Snowden’s case has shown the need to protect persons disclosing information on matters that have implications for human rights, as well as the importance of ensuring respect for the right to privacy,” she added.

Snowden appeared with human rights activists during a press event at Sheremetyevo International Airport on Friday, during which he expressed thanks for “all offers of support or asylum I have been extended,” which so far include Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua.

At the same time, Snowden indicated that he would seek asylum from Russia, at least for the time being, until such time as travel to Latin America would be possible.

Meanwhile, the White House warned Russia not to offer the former intelligence contractor a “propaganda platform,” while the US ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, called a member of the humans rights delegation on Friday and asked her to pass on a message to Snowden that he was not considered a whistleblower by the US, reports the Guardian.

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Asylum for Snowden won’t stop Greenwald from publishing more leaks

RT

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has indicated that he is willing to halt his leakage of US secrets, a condition for gaining Russian asylum, though the journalist who first published information from those leaks intends to continue.

Glenn Greenwald, a journalist working with both the British Guardian newspaper and Brazil’s O Globo, had been in direct contact with the now fugitive Snowden and coordinated with the former intelligence contractor ahead of publishing information on secret online surveillance programs.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said that asylum for Snowden would be offered only under the condition that he releases no further information that could prove damaging to the US. Greenwald, however, has indicated that he would consider the intelligence provided by Snowden already in his possession fair game.

“There are many more domestic stories coming, and big ones, and soon,” Greenwald wrote in an email to Politico on Friday.

“Given everything I know, I’d be very shocked if he ever asked me that,” Greenwald told Politico when asked if he would halt publishing any sensitive information if Snowden were to ask.

“I’d deal with that hypothetical only in the extremely unlikely event that it ever happened, but I can’t foresee anything that would or could stop me from further reporting on the NSA documents I have,” he added.

On Friday, Snowden said that he would remain in Russia until able to get safe passage to Latin America, where he has been offered political asylum by Venezuela as well as Honduras. Comments made during a meeting with human rights activists at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport Friday also indicated that he intended to renew a petition for asylum from Russia.

“Snowden is serious about obtaining political asylum in the Russian Federation,” said Vyacheslav Nikonov, a lawmaker who attended the meeting at the Moscow airport, reports The Guardian.

Most recently, Greenwald in conjunction with several reporters with O Globo published further information showing the existence of a wide array of surveillance programs tracking citizens of South American countries.

O Globo cited documents this week indicating that from January to March of 2013, NSA agents carried out “spying actions” via the ‘Boundless Informant’ program, which collected telephone calls and Internet data. Agents also used PRISM from February 2 to 8 this year, O Globo said.

Essentially all of Latin America is reported to be targeted for surveillance, including Argentina, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Paraguay, Chile, Peru and El Salvador. The most intense surveillance according to O Globo seems to have been directed at Colombia, a key US ally in the so-called War on Drugs, as well as Venezuela, Brazil and Mexico.

Comments by Greenwald to Politico on Friday suggest that the journalist already has a backlog of leaks to work with, and that any agreement Snowden were to make with a foreign government in regards to conditions of political asylum would be independent of Greenwald’s publication of that information.

Meanwhile, Snowden released a statement on Friday via WikiLeaks, which has orchestrated his legal defense as well as asylum petitions, to convey that he would accept all offers of political asylum made to him.

“I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future,” Snowden stated during his meeting with rights activists and lawyers at Sheremetyevo.

“I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted,” he told the meeting.