Documents show NSA conducted surveillance of EU member states, embassies

communications were listened to.

What is new now is that there is a documentary proof of such spying.

The Guardian notes that within senior circles in Brussels it has long been assumed that the Americans were listening to or seeking to monitor EU electronic traffic.

There’s a certain schadenfreude here that we’re important enough to be spied on,” said one of the officials. “This was bound to come out one day. And I wouldn’t be surprised if some of our member states were not doing the same to the Americans.”

A former senior official in Brussels told the Guardian that EU phone and computer systems were almost totally secure but that no system could be immune to persistent high-quality penetration operations.

I have always assumed that anyone with a decent agency was listening, hacking if they could be bothered,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me much. Sometimes it’s a form of communication.”

Moreover, at least seven European Union member states have shared personal communications data with the NSA, according to declassified U.S. intelligence reports and EU parliamentary documents.

The Observer examined these documents, and reports that they show that, in addition to the United Kingdom, six other countries — Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy — have all had formal agreements to provide communications data to the United States. The documents state that the EU countries have had “second and third party status” under decades-old signal intelligence (SIGINT) agreements that compel them to hand over data which, in later years, experts believe, has come to include mobile phone and Internet data.

Under the international intelligence agreements, nations are categorized by the United States according to their trust level. The United States is defined as “first party” while the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand enjoy “second party” trusted relationships. Countries such as Germany and France have “third party,” or less trusted, relationships.

Second party countries are exempt from U.S. spying activity.

European indignation
Whether or not it has been assumed that the United States was including European countries and institutions in its surveillance campaign, the Telegraph reports that a number of senior European politicians on Sunday condemn the United States for spying on allies, and said the spying might negatively affect negotiations over a U.S.-EU free trade pact.

Martin Schultz, the president of the European Parliament, said that the EU was demanding “full clarification and require further information speedily from the U.S authorities.”

Schulz said: “I am deeply worried and shocked about the allegations of U.S. authorities spying on EU offices. If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-U.S. 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.”

Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, Germany’s justice minister, described the allegations as “reminiscent of methods used by enemies during the Cold War.” She told the German paper Bild that “It is beyond imagination that our friends in the U.S. view Europeans as the enemy.”

“If these reports are true, it’s disgusting,” added Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg’s foreign minister.

“The EU and its diplomats are not terrorists. We need a guarantee from the very highest level that it stops immediately.”

Laurent Fabius, France’s foreign minister, said he “asked the American authorities for an explanation.”

He said: “These acts, if confirmed, would be completely unacceptable. We expect the American authorities to answer the legitimate concerns raised by these press revelations as quickly as possible.”

Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian prime minister and leader of the liberals in the European parliament, said: “This is absolutely unacceptable and must be stopped immediately. The American data collection mania has achieved another quality by spying on EU officials and their meetings. Our trust is at stake.”

A spokesman for the European commission told the Telegraph: “We have immediately been in contact with the U.S. authorities in Washington and in Brussels and have confronted them with the press reports. They have told us they are checking on the accuracy of the information released yesterday and will come back to us.”

U.S. government spokesmen and aides to President Barack Obama refused to discuss the reports on Sunday. “I can’t comment,” said Ben Rhodes, a national security spokesman for the president.