Subheadline: National Security Agency communiques leaked by Edward Snowden are evoking shock, indignation by world leaders considered ‘allies’.
Representatives of the governments of France, Mexico, Brazil and the European Union are demanding detailed explanations from the US regarding covert telecommunications spying operations which have been identified and exposed by the news media. Most recently, the French government summoned the US ambassador to provide details related to allegations published in the French newspaper Le Monde that the National Security Agency (NSA) collected tens of thousands of phone records of French citizens, as reported by Reuters. The summons, it was mentioned, was conveyed on the same day as US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris enroute to Syria.
Hundreds of ‘top secret’ US National Security Agency documents containing highly classified Information were leaked when Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, transferred access to the files to the British newspaper The Guardian and the US Washington Post. The revelations continue to be a cause of grave concern to the affected nations, most of whom run intelligence operations of their own; however, as ‘allies’, the extent and nature of the breaches committed by the NSA spying has led to a serious rupture of confidence and trust between them. The Reuters report also elaborated that earlier, France's interior minister, Manuel Valls, said Le Monde's revelations that 70.3 million pieces of French telephone data were recorded by the NSA between Dec 10, 2012 and Jan 8, 2013 were "shocking."
"If an allied country spies on France or spies on other European countries, that's totally unacceptable," Valls told Europe 1 Radio. French prosecutors opened an inquiry into the unethical spy program named ‘Prism’ which was first revealed in the German weekly Der Speigel and the British Guardian as well.
Agence France Presse (AFP) coverage of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff at the United Nations reported that she blasted the US during her UN General Assembly address in September , cancelling an October visit to the US in outrage at the worldwide spying network that she said ‘violates the sovereignty of other countries and the civil liberties of their citizens.’ Ms. Rousseff said the transgressions of the covert program was tantamount to ‘disrespect’ and a breach of international law, describing arguments that the technological surveillance of individuals, businesses and diplomatic missions is necessary in the global fight against terrorism as "untenable" and an affront to the sovereignty of nations.
EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom stated that the European Union was ‘not satisfied’ with the responses provided by Washington to the EU’s inquiries about NSA spying on international bank transfers and promised that the EU would be “seeking exhaustive explanations, comprehensive information.” Reports that US intelligence services tapped into the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) have strained relations between Washington and Europe, and if the reports are confirmed ” will certainly further weaken the confidence between the EU and the US and would undoubtedly impact our cooperation in the field of counter-terrorism,” Commissioner Malmstrom told AFP.
Information leaked by the Snowden NSA files also documented the fact that the personal email account of former Mexican President Philippe Calderon had been ‘hacked’ by NSA spy technology during his tenure as president. Revealed in Der Spiegel, the intrusion occurred in May of 2010 and provided a ‘lucrative’ source of private information, while an additional hack into a central network server used by Calderon’s administration provided a ‘trove’ of diplomatic and economic information to the NSA, and in turn the US government.
"This practice is unacceptable, illegal and against Mexican and international law. In a relationship between neighbors and partners there is no place for the actions that allegedly took place," the Mexican foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that the infraction could damage ties between the US and Mexico, one of America’s biggest trading partners, and also cause tensions in other cooperative dealings such as border security and the ongoing war against organized crime. The Reuters report mentioned that US president Barack Obama promised a vigorous and thorough investigation into the charges of espionage to current Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto who, according to other reports, had already remarked that the covert transgressions were totally unacceptable. Still, eighty- percent of Mexico’s exported goods are sold to the US, a critical factor for the Mexican economy which could explain its measured response to the spy allegations.
According to information published on the Guardian.com, the NSA, founded in 1952, is the USA’s signal intelligence agency, and the biggest of the country’s myriad intelligence organizations. It supposedly has a strict focus on overseas, rather than domestic, surveillance. It is the phone and internet interception specialist of the USA, and is also responsible for code breaking.