October 21, 2013

France joins list of allies angry over NSA spying

Keeping tabs on allies is classic spycraft, but the sweep and scope of the NSA program has irritated Germany, Britain, Brazil, Mexico and now France.

By Kimberly Dozier And Deb Reichmann
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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U.S Ambassador to France Charles H. Rivkin, right, leaves the Foreign Ministry in Paris, after he was summoned Monday.

The Associated Press

In another instance, a former French intelligence director stated that the spy agency compiled a detailed secret dossier of the proprietary proposals that U.S. and Soviet companies wrote to compete with a French company for a $1 billion contract to supply fighter jets to India.

But while corporate and spy- vs.-spy espionage may be common, the newspaper report indicated that French citizens were unwittingly drawn into U.S. surveillance, too.

Dennis Blair, a former director of national intelligence, tried to broker a closer intelligence-sharing relationship with France, so the two would simply ask each other to explain political or economic policies directly instead of resorting to snooping.

“The U.S. is overwhelmed by cooperation by France on things like ... terrorism and organized crime,” Blair said in an interview Monday. “It dwarfs the amount of time we spend on spying on each other. I’m hoping the day will come when both countries realize they have a lot more to be gained by working with each other, but we’re not quite there yet.”

The most recent documents cited by Le Monde, dated April 2013, indicated the NSA’s interest in communications linked to Wanadoo — once part of France Telecom — and Alcatel-Lucent, the French-American telecom company. One of the documents instructed analysts to draw not only from the electronic surveillance program, but also from another initiative dubbed Upstream, which allowed surveillance on undersea communications cables.

Snowden’s leaks exposing details of the U.S. global surveillance apparatus have sparked an international debate over the limits of American spying. The strongest objection has come from Brazil.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff canceled a state visit to Washington over a dispute involving Brazil’s desire to question Snowden after information he leaked indicated that the U.S. intercepted Rousseff’s communications with aides, hacked the state-run oil company’s computer network and snagged data on emails and telephone calls flowing through Brazil .

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government canceled a Cold War-era surveillance agreement over reports that NSA snooping swept up communications in Europe.

“I can understand the anger in France,” said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. “You don’t do that among partners. You don’t do that among friends.”

Mexico has also expressed outrage about an alleged NSA program that the German newspaper Der Spiegel said accessed a domain linked to former Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his Cabinet. Also, a document from June 2012 indicated the NSA had read current Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s emails before he was elected.

The U.S. is thought to avoid spying on its coalition of “’Five Eye” partners — Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand — but considers other countries fair game.

The U.S. intelligence community has discussed bringing France into the Five Eyes alliance because of its close cooperation with U.S. troops and intelligence against al-Qaida in such as Afghanistan and Mali, according to two current U.S. intelligence officials. But the trust between both countries has never reached the level needed for that, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the relationship publicly.

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