October 29, 2013

NSA in Dutch with Dianne Feinstein

Sen. Dianne Feinstein/Guardian photo
Sen. Betty Crocker has been probably the most ardent blank-check defender of any and every National Security Agency spying program since 9/11. So, it's a surprising twist indeed when Feinstein says she strongly opposes spying on foreign leaders.

And, as I blogged yesterday, the White House's original non-denial denials eventually morphed into semi-explicit admissions of guilt about spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others.

Meanwhile, the super-snoopers have come up with a new denial, which may actually be true, yet a non-denial denial at the same time.

In France and Spain, the agency says those countries' intelligence agencies were the spies of record.

This may well be true. In Britain, we know that General Communications Headquarters has a formal agreement with the NSA; something at least halfway similar also exists with Canada, Australia and New Zealand. That said, without going into details, Anglo-American sharing of intelligence gathering has long been known, and has been suspected of being pretty deep.

So, a few takeaways.

First, if true, this is like some European countries, in other instances, hiding behind the skirts of NATO, or in France's case, hiding behind the US's Security Council vetos at the UN.

Second, if this is, per the claims of NSA head Keith Alexander, based on misinterpretation of one of those magic slides of Edward Snowden, I'm sure we'll hear more from Snowden soon enough.

Third, this is still only France and Spain. Alexander's latest claim doesn't govern Germany. And therefore, doesn't fully address Sen. Betty Crocker's pique.

Fourth, we still have no indication that in France or Spain, even, national intelligence agencies would have spied on their own heads of state.

Fifth, there's no indication, even if Alexander has some truth, as to how much of this spying would have been done anyway, and how much was on some sort of contract to the NSA.

Sixth, everybody's linking to the Wall Street Journal, whose news page has become more and more politicized under the Reign of Murdoch. Let's hold off on assigning too high of truth value to the story, eh?

Seventh, to the degree this is true, per my first takeaway, this is as ugly as European countries bitching about extraordinary renditions by the CIA a decade ago, until it became clear that some of them (et tu, Sweden of Julian Assange charges) were willing participants in enabling this.

Eighth, and last for now: This is going to get uglier yet, if there's an ounce of truth in the WSJ story.

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Per a friend on Facebook, though, don't expect Dianne Feinstein's touching concern for Angela Merkel being in the NSA's gunsights to extend to We the People, though.

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