Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Minister Plasterk: I Had No Snooping Idea We Did It

by Oui Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 03:12:57 PM EST

Dutch government, not NSA involved in snooping De Volkskrant | Feb. 5, 2014

Minister of the Interior hasn't got a notion which intelligence agency is collecting 1.8 million metadata of Dutch citizens' phone calls each month. In October on TV news broadcast [video], he got a wire from NSA directly, confirming they had collected this data. Today, Plasterk had to backtrack and made a statement, the Dutch military intelligence MIVD and AIVD were responsible through their unit called National Sigint Organisation (NSO). Defense Minister Hennis seems to concur, stating it was not against Dutch law for this data gathering and sharing it with the US super intelligence agency NSA. Dutch telephone subscribers are not part of this exchange. Similar to role of GCHQ and NSA.

 « click for story
Satellite disks of NSO in Burum, Drenthe

This whole affair stinks and there appears to be a cover-up to avoid possible lawsuits and unsettling relations with the White House. The satellite spy station in Burum seems to be part of Echelon network.

[Update] WikiLeaks founder Rop Gongrijp joins Dutch lawsuit against NSA espionage … [below the fold]

Dutch government faces lawsuit for collaboration with NSA

(Raw Story) Nov. 6, 2013 - A group of lawyers, journalists and privacy advocates in the Netherlands is taking the government to court to prevent Dutch intelligence using phone data illegally acquired by the US National Security Agency.

Five individuals, among them a prominent investigative journalist and a well-known hacker, and four organisations filed the case before The Hague district court, according to their lawyer Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm.

The case comes after recent revelations that the NSA monitored 1.8 million phonecalls in a month in the Netherlands and then passed some of the data to Dutch intelligence services.

The NSA has been at the centre of a global furore set off by a series of bombshell leaks from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who lifted the lid on the US government’s far-reaching digital dragnet.

Dutch Home Affairs Minister Ronald Plasterk, whose ministry is the defendant in the case, last week confirmed the NSA’s phone intercepts, telling national television that “whether it’s about politicians or ordinary citizens it’s not acceptable”.

He said the Dutch secret service (AIVD) did exchange information with the NSA but was not necessarily aware where the information came from.

Those bringing the lawsuit include investigative journalist Brenno de Winter and hacker Rop Gonggrijp— who is under investigation by US authorities for his involvement with Wikileaks — and they say they want the NSA to stop eavesdropping and handing over information to Dutch intelligence.

The plaintiffs want judges to “declare that the Dutch state was acting illegally by receiving information from foreign intelligence services, which had been collected through spy programmes like (the NSA’s) PRISM, contrary to Dutch law.”

The Dutch government should tell the plaintiffs “in writing” within three months what type of information was gathered about them and what the information was used for.

NSA claims Europeans did the spying and passed the info to US

WASHINGTON -- The political uproar over alleged US eavesdropping on close European allies has produced an unusual defense from the National Security Agency: it was the Europeans themselves who did the spying and then handed data to the Americans.

It is rare for intelligence officials to speak in any public detail about liaison arrangements with foreign spy agencies because such relationships are so sensitive. Even more unusual is for the United States to point fingers at partners.

But that is what NSA Director General Keith Alexander did at a public congressional hearing when, attempting to counter international complaints about the agency's alleged excesses, he said its sources for foreign telecommunications information included "data provided to NSA by foreign partners."

"Given the hypocrisy being exhibited by the Europeans in saying they are 'shocked, shocked' that these sorts of things go on -- allies spying on allies -- I don't think we should feel much compunction about having them feel a little bit of domestic political heat if that is necessary to set the story straight in one of our own congressional hearings," said Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA analyst.

Metadata refers to information about a phone call or email -- the length of a call and the number dialed, for example -- that does not include the communication's actual content.

The NSA continues battling the perception its programs are large and intrusive. The Post reported on Wednesday that the agency has tapped directly into communications links used by Google and Yahoo to move huge amounts of email and other user information among overseas data centers.

International twist

Reports that the United States was eavesdropping on the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and spying on the leaders and citizens of some of its closest European allies -- Germany, France, and Spain -- drew harsh criticism across Europe.

European media have pointed to an NSA slide published by France's Le Monde newspaper as showing that the United States was collecting bulk telephone data on millions of European citizens. But US officials say that slide was misinterpreted.

NSA slide [enlarged] « click

A US national security official said that the slide actually referred to a program under which French authorities supplied to US intelligence agencies large amounts of raw telephone call data. [Love the break in data between Christmas and New Year, typical the French on holiday - LOL - Oui] That data related to communications transmitted outside France but that passed through telecoms systems or switches to which France had direct, or at least readier, access than NSA itself.

The official indicated that this same scenario applied to allegations regarding the NSA collection of large amounts of metadata in Spain.

Another US official familiar with NSA programs said that the metadata collection was inaccurately characterized in French and Spanish media reports.

It was collected by those governments themselves and turned over to the United States, and the collection was conducted on targets outside of their countries in war zones or countries that are major targets for Western counter-terrorism operations, the official said.

NSA Director accused of lying to Congress at Black Hat USA 2013 keynote

Alexander's DEF CON keynote, presented in a black t-shrt and jeans, had the NSA Director saying that DEF CON was the "world's best cybersecurity community" and asked hackers for their help.

The NSA Director was asked during DEF CON's Q and A if the NSA keeps files on all US citizens.

CNET reported that General Alexander had stated,

    "No we don't. Absolutely not," he said. "Our job is foreign intelligence. We get oversight by Congress...everything we do is auditable by them, by the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act)...and by the (Obama) Administration."

    He acknowledged that occasionally there are slip ups. "We may, incidentally in targeting a bad guy, hit on a good guy. We have requirements from (the FISA) court and the attorney general to minimize that."

Israeli security officials recognize change in Iran

(Al Monitor) - On Feb. 3, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif astounded Israel when he said in an interview on a German TV network: "Once the Palestinian problem is solved, the conditions for an Iranian recognition of Israel will be possible." It's hard to recall a statement by any Iranian official about recognizing its "Zionist enemy" since the start of the Iranian revolution. Dubbed by Tehran the "Little Satan," second only to the "Great Satan" -- the United States -- Israel is an enemy whose name has been unmentionable and whose obliteration had to be declared necessary at least once every couple of weeks.

Zarif's statement took the Israeli media and public by surprise, but not the country's decision-makers. In a recent closed meeting, a senior Israeli military official told Al-Monitor that a "dramatic development is taking place in Iran." A seasoned Israeli defense official took it a step further, calling the developments in Iran "historic."

Using high-quality intelligence, Israel's defense establishment has been monitoring Iran closely, analyzing it in the context of an intimate acquaintance with its background, circumstances and history. No one in the Israel Defense Forces, the military's Intelligence Directorate, the Mossad or the Ministry of Defense plans to go dancing in the streets just yet. However, the sounds and images coming out of Tehran are inspiring great hope among defense officials. Something real is going on there, they say, adding that this is no act. Searching for a path, Iran is deliberating and struggling in a way we have not been accustomed to seeing.

Iranian Foreign Minister Lays Out Condition for Iranian Recognition of Israel

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Wed Feb 5th, 2014 at 05:40:57 PM EST
Ministers knew in November about internet data collection

(Dutch News) - Home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk and defence minister Jeanine Hennis were told last November 22 that the 1.8 million items of information about phone and internet traffic were probably gathered by the Dutch security services.

Plasterk told parliament in October the information had been collected by the Americans but was forced to retract this last week.

Parliament is due to debate the latest information on Tuesday. Opposition MPs want to know if Plasterk deliberately misinformed parliament last year when he stated NSA was behind the information gathering.

First published

Plasterk told MPs in October the Americans were behind the tapping, after the revelations were first published in German magazine Spiegel.

However, in a two paragraph briefing last Wednesday, Plasterk said the information had been gathered by the Netherlands itself.

'The details were collected in the interest of counter-terrorism activities and military operations abroad,' the briefing stated. The information was then 'correctly shared with the US'.

Known unknowns?

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Wed Feb 12th, 2014 at 02:55:17 AM EST

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]