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Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, is “shocked” to learn that the US has bugged EU embassies and facilities in Washington, New York and Brussels. I’d have been shocked if the US hadn’t at least tried to do so.

Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine said National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden showed its reporters “parts” of a secret document from 2010 that outlined how the US had placed devices in the two EU embassies and gained access to their internal computer networks.

The document referred to the EU as a “target”. According to Der Spiegel, the NSA also targeted telecommunications at the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels, home to the European Council, the collective of EU national governments.

What splendid little pearls the hero Snowden is putting out there. The Telegraph reports that the revelation could be “highly damaging” to US/EU relations. Let’s hope so, though in truth no-one should be surprised. Supposed friends spy on each other at least as much as they do on apparent enemies. Since we’re looted to fund “our” espionage efforts, I certainly hope they’re up to no good in the US and EU too.

In the end it reveals to true nature of governments, which are just gangs of people out for advantage. The interesting question is what they are after. When the CIA spied on UN diplomats it was to dig up dirt on individuals. Presumably the point is to pressure the influential and affect policy. It would certainly explain some of the strange things which governments do. EU politicians and technocrats are reminded that if they have nothing to hide they have nothing to fear.

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  1. Countries gather intelligence.

    They have always done this.

    You claim not to be shocked, yet you’re spending half your life breathlessly reporting things that we’ve always known.

    The English Kingdoms spied.

    The Egyptians spied.

    Oh the horror.

  2. Corporations soy.

    Sports teams spy. Ask Bill Bellichek. Oh man I lost faith in humanity now.

  3. Here here, Pete Moore.
    The digital age & the internet have caught ‘Big Government’ well and truly on the back foot.

    After all, what else could western government agents do when the old Soviet Union fell apart, but keep themselves occupied by spying on each other and us?

  4. I remember my parents’ friends traveling to the Soviet Union during the Cold War and coming back with stories of bugged hotel rooms, rampant spying.

    We spoke of this with wonder and fear — we were proud to be Americans – Americans did not engage in this type of behavior.

    America was better than this. We were free. Our Government was not an abusive Leviathan.

    “Poor Soviet people,” we thought.

    We “won” the Cold War but we have adopted Soviet practices, nonetheless. Like the old Soviet Union, our Government is doing it for the “common good.”

  5. It would be interesting to see American reaction if the situation was reversed. We have already had one American on here claiming they have the right to assasinate, without due process, whoever annoys them.

  6. Patty

    Do you think U.S. govt. agencies didn’t bug the hotels room of or spy on Russian and other Easter bloc visitors to the US during the cold war ?

  7. Colm: Snowden’s appalling reveal is the fact that the US Govt. is now spying on ordinary US citizens, probably every single one of us AND without cause, collecting the information and storing it away for potential future use.

    The US Govt. has not always done this and it does not keep us safer even though Troll and Phantom seem to think so.

  8. Patty

    I am pretty sure that the US as well as all governments have used the technology available for their times to collect information. I wouldn’t expect them to do any less. It is not the exploitation of technology that really matters, but what they do with it.

  9. Patty, Just so I get this right……the US government spying on US citizens is bad, but spying on everyone else is good?

  10. Colm –

    Russian visitors probably would have been spied on in the US during the Cold War, because they would have been politicians, technocrats, prominent culturalists or from some other kind of special interest.

    If the average Russian could visit the US then no, they wouldn’t have been spied on.

  11. Pete

    Oh yes they would. I can’t believe you are that naïve. During the cold war, particularly in the more paranoid 1950s/60s there would have been no such thing as ‘ordinary’ Americans or Russians visiting each others territories, or even if so, the respective governments would have been suspicious of them. American-Russian tourism wouldn’t have been like the millions of Brits who flock to Spain seeking purely to infiltrate the cheapest beachside bars ! Even Franco knew he had nothing to fear from them 😉

  12. Colm –

    Maybe I didn’t make myself clear.

    I agree that there was no such thing as ordinary Yanks and Russkies visiting each other’s countries in the 50s and 60s.

    When ordinary Westerners could visit the SU, the assumption is that they were surveilled.

    However, if ordinary Russians could have visited the US (as opposed to only a special class of visitor) then they wouldn’t have been spied upon. The inference is that if ordinary Russians could have visited the US, then relations would have been somewhat different anyway.

  13. No secret how corrupt and evil the EU is. Perhaps the NSA couldn’t believe it takes four people to be involved for an MEP to send one letter? Whilst being whisked about by Limousines with Mrs MEP. I can hardly believe how corrupt it is myself.

  14. “…the US government spying on US citizens is bad, but spying on everyone else is good?”

    did I say that? I don’t think I said that.

    speaking of Snowden, though – he is being called a “traitor” and a
    hero” because he has exposed US Fed. spying on ordinary US citizens, something ordinary US citizens were not aware of.

  15. “Snowden’s appalling reveal is the fact that the US Govt. is now spying on ordinary US citizens, probably every single one of us AND without cause, collecting the information and storing it away for potential future use.”

    If this was his appalling reveal, then by implication, the reveal about spying on everyone else is not appalling, so yes Patty, you pretty much did say it.

    (For the record, I am not anti-american, but you guys really need to start thinking that all the rest of the world has the same expectations that you have. Offend your friends often enough and you have no friends.”

  16. Could ‘ordinary’ Soviet citizens visit the US and vice versa during the 50’s and 60’s when the highly-lucrative Cold War was at its height?

  17. Actually, Tondew, I didn’t by implication say that or if I did, I didn’t mean to. This is not the “above board” America that i know nor is it politics as usual.

    The data mining made sense when it was isolated to known or suspected terrorists speaking from within the US to countries outside of the US – where we were at war, like Afghanistan/Pakistan – but now, apparently, we mine data from Brussels bureaucrats and everybody else that we can put our hands on.

    I find it appalling that we are accumulating and storing so much data on everybody, within and outside of the US – data accumulated without cause – data that can be used to blackmail – or persuade off record in the vilest of fashions.

  18. No, Allan, ordinary citizens could not visit the US during the Cold War – sure the Olympic Team came, and ballet companies – but they came with handlers and they were by no means “ordinary.”

  19. There was some ordinary tourism from the US to Russia and the Eastern European ” satellite ” states in the 1960s.

  20. Attempts to suggest the recent surveillance efforts of the US as adopting the Soviet system are laughable. One can have sensible objections to the extent of the surveillance of the NSA without having to resort to meritless comparisons.

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