German Minister Says Confidence in US Shaken; Spain Also Reports Massive Phone Spying
October 28, 2013
(CNN) -- The release of further allegations of National Security Agency surveillance efforts caused the Spanish government to summon the U.S. ambassador Monday, and The Wall Street Journal reported that the White House ordered a halt to some eavesdropping on foreign leaders after learning of it this summer.
Quoting unidentified U.S. officials, the newspaper's website said the wiretapping of about 35 foreign leaders was disclosed to the White House as part of a review of surveillance programs ordered by President Barack Obama after NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified information on the NSA's phone monitoring systems.
The White House ordered a halt to the monitoring of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and unspecified other leaders, the newspaper reported. The Journal report did not specify who gave the shutdown order or the date it was issued.
White House: Reviewing surveillance of allies
Accusations of US spying 'disingenuous' Germany sending intel team to D.C. Damage control on NSA Scandal
Sharing secrets: U.S. intelligence leaks Sharing secrets: U.S. intelligence leaks
Responding to the report for the White House, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden did not directly address surveillance of foreign leaders. Instead, she described the ongoing review as "including when it comes to our closest foreign partners and allies."
Merkel said last week that reports of American spying on her and other leaders had "severely shaken" relationships between the United States and European nations.
The German leader said she told Obama last week that eavesdropping among friends "is never acceptable." The White House said at the time that Merkel's communications were not being monitored -- without saying whether she had been targeted in the past.
Should the president know wiretap details?
The officials quoted by The Wall Street Journal said it was understandable that Obama did not know about the phone tapping of Merkel and other leaders for nearly five years of his presidency. Because the NSA has so many eavesdropping programs, it would not have listed all of them for the president, according to the officials.
"The president doesn't sign off on this stuff," one official was quoted as saying. But the official said that policy was under review, the Journal reported.
The Journal report said some surveillance of foreign leaders continues, and surveillance of others is being phased out.
NSA denies chief told Obama about Merkel tap
Separately, the NSA on Sunday denied a report by the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that NSA Director Keith Alexander told Obama about the surveillance of Merkel in 2010.
"Gen. Alexander did not discuss with President Obama in 2010 an alleged foreign intelligence operation involving German Chancellor Merkel, nor has he ever discussed alleged operations involving Chancellor Merkel," NSA spokeswoman Vanee' Vines told CNN.
German intelligence officials are scheduled to meet with their American counterparts in Washington this week to ask about surveillance programs.
Other news media reports, based on documents leaked by Snowden, have said the NSA monitored the communications of the leaders of Brazil and Mexico.
Germany and Brazil are drafting a United Nations resolution on privacy in electronic communication, officials in those countries said last week.
Report: NSA monitored 60 million Spanish calls in 30 days
The Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported Monday that the NSA collected data from 60 million phone calls in Spain in one 30-day period.
One of the authors of the El Mundo article was Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who first reported on documents supplied by Snowden for the British newspaper The Guardian.
The El Mundo article cited what it said was an NSA report titled, "Spain -- last 30 days." The 60 million calls were not recorded, but the NSA collected serial numbers of devices, phone numbers, locations and durations of calls, the newspaper said.
Even before the latest report, the Spanish government had summoned U.S. Ambassador James Costos to a meeting Monday in Madrid. That followed a report by another Spanish newspaper, El Pais, that quoted unnamed sources as saying the NSA spied on Spanish officials and politicians.
A Spanish Foreign Ministry statement said Monday that the government "conveyed to the United States the importance of preserving a climate of confidence" in bilateral relations. It's important to know that "some practices, which if they are true, are inappropriate and unacceptable between partners and friendly nations," the statement said.
A statement by Costos repeated the administration's past statements that the surveillance policies are under review. It said the policies have "played a critical role in protecting citizens of the United States" and played "an instrumental role in our coordination with our allies and in protecting their interests as well."
"We will continue to confer with our allies, such as Spain, through our regular diplomatic channels to address the concerns that they have raised," the Costos statement said. "Ultimately, the United States needs to balance the important role that these programs play in protecting our national security and protecting the security of our allies with legitimate privacy concerns."
The French daily newspaper Le Monde reported last week on claims that the NSA intercepted more than 70 million phone calls in France in 30 days. That report did not specify whether the calls were recorded or whether the interceptions were limited to data about calls.
CNN's Al Goodman contributed reporting to this story from Madrid, Spain. It was written by CNN's David Simpson and Tom Cohen.
American war propaganda Google
'White House: Chemical weapons': About 65,800,000 results
White House statement on Syrian regime chemicals weapons - full text
White House says chemical weapons used against Syrian rebels - The Verge
White House plan to arm Syrian rebels raises fears of terrorist links - Fox News
White House: Syria crosses 'red line' with use of chemical weapons - CNN
White House: Syria Has Used Chemical Weapons - Yahoo! News
White House says chemical weapons used against Syrian rebels - The Verge
White House Says Syrian Regime Used Chemical Weapons, Military - buzzfeed
White House: Syria has used chemical weapons - Video on - video.msnbc.
White House: Assad used chemical weapons - Josh Gerstein - politico
White House plan to arm Syrian rebels raises fears of terrorist links - foxnews
White House: Assad Used Chemical Weapons in Syria - voanews
White House says Syria 'Used Chemical Weapons' | @pritheworld - theworld
White House statement on Syrian regime chemicals weapons - full text
WHITE HOUSE: Syria Has Been Using Chemical Weapons On Rebels - businessinsider
White House says Syria 'Used Chemical Weapons' | @pritheworld
White House: Assad Used Chemical Weapons in Syria - voanews
White House says Syria used chemical weapons, crossing Obama's - thehill
White House has proof of chemical weapons in Syria - Deutsche Welle
White House: Syria's Assad Regime Used Chemical Weapons - CNBC - video.cnbc
Daily Kos: White House: Syria has used chemical weapons
Red Line Crossed? White House Claims Chemical Weapons Used - theblaze
White House: Chemical Weapons Used in Syria | National Review - nationalreview
White house statement on syria's use of chemical weapons (full text) - huffingtonpost
Conclusive Evidence of Chemical Weapons in Syria: White House - abcnews
White House: Syrian Regime Has Used Chemical Weapons - cnsnews
White House Says They Have Proof Assad Used Chemical Weapons - crooksandliars
White House: Syria Crossed 'Red Line' By Using Chemical Weapons - www.ibtimes
Here we go: White House formally announces that Assad has used - hotair
White House: Syrian chemical weapons red line crossed - legalinsurrection
The White House Will Reportedly Arm the Syrian Rebels - Abby - theatlanticwire
Red Lined: White House Says It Knows For Sure That Assad Used - thecable.foreignpolicy
White House: Syria's Assad used chemical weapons against rebels - washingtonexaminer
The White House Is Now Sure Syria Used Chemical Weapons - slate
White House: US has conclusive evidence Assad used chemical - www.wjla
White House: Syria used chemical weapons on its people | KDVR.com - kdvr
White House estimates Syrian chemical weapons - Washington Post
White House estimates Syrian chemical weapons - Star Tribune
White House: Syria crosses 'red line' with use of chemical weapons - fox13now
'Red line' watch: White House confirms Syrian use of chemical - twitchy
White House: Syria chemical weapons kill up to 150- bigstory
Assad used chemical weapons on Syrian rebels: White House - www.thespec
White House: Syria chemical weapons kill up to 150 - Newsday
White House: Syria chemical weapons kill up to 150 | National - www.thenewstribune
On 3.14.2012, America's Defense Department’s best-known geek announced that she was leaving the Pentagon for a job at Google. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Larry Page of Google both strongly denied giving unfettered access to user data to U.S. officials, but it turns out both companies have, in fact, cooperated with governments requests.
Some interesting links:
'White House statement on Syrian regime chemicals weapons - full text'
Statement by Ben Rhodes, the US deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, on chemical weapons
13 June 2013
At the President's direction, the United States Government has been closely monitoring the potential use of chemical weapons within Syria. Following the assessment made by our intelligence community in April, the President directed the intelligence community to seek credible and corroborated information to build on that assessment and establish the facts with some degree of certainty. Today, we are providing an updated version of our assessment to Congress and to the public.
The Syrian government's refusal to grant access to the United Nations to investigate any and all credible allegations of chemical weapons use has prevented a comprehensive investigation as called for by the international community. The Assad regime could prove that its request for an investigation was not just a diversionary tactic by granting the UN fact finding mission immediate and unfettered access to conduct on-site investigations to help reveal the truth about chemical weapons use in Syria. While pushing for a UN investigation, the United States has also been working urgently with our partners and allies as well as individuals inside Syria, including the Syrian opposition, to procure, share, and evaluate information associated with reports of chemical weapons use so that we can establish the facts and determine what took place.
Following a deliberative review, our intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year. Our intelligence community has high confidence in that assessment given multiple, independent streams of information. The intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date; however, casualty data is likely incomplete. While the lethality of these attacks make up only a small portion of the catastrophic loss of life in Syria, which now stands at more than 90,000 deaths, the use of chemical weapons violates international norms and crosses clear red lines that have existed within the international community for decades. We believe that the Assad regime maintains control of these weapons. We have no reliable, corroborated reporting to indicate that the opposition in Syria has acquired or used chemical weapons.
The body of information used to make this intelligence assessment includes reporting regarding Syrian officials planning and executing regime chemical weapons attacks; reporting that includes descriptions of the time, location, and means of attack; and descriptions of physiological symptoms that are consistent with exposure to a chemical weapons agent. Some open source reports from social media outlets from Syrian opposition groups and other media sources are consistent with the information we have obtained regarding chemical weapons use and exposure. The assessment is further supported by laboratory analysis of physiological samples obtained from a number of individuals, which revealed exposure to sarin. Each positive result indicates that an individual was exposed to sarin, but it does not tell us how or where the individuals were exposed or who was responsible for the dissemination.
We are working with allies to present a credible, evidentiary case to share with the international community and the public. Since the creation of the UN fact finding mission, we have provided two briefings to Dr. Åke Sellström, the head of the mission. We will also be providing a letter to UN Secretary General Ban, calling the UN's attention to our updated intelligence assessment and specific incidents of alleged chemical weapons use. We request that the UN mission include these incidents in its ongoing investigation and report, as appropriate, on its findings. We will present additional information and continue to update Dr. Sellström as new developments emerge.
The President has been clear that the use of chemical weapons – or the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups – is a red line for the United States, as there has long been an established norm within the international community against the use of chemical weapons. Our intelligence community now has a high confidence assessment that chemical weapons have been used on a small scale by the Assad regime in Syria. The President has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has.
Our decision making has already been guided by the April intelligence assessment and by the regime's escalation of horrific violence against its citizens. Following on the credible evidence that the regime has used chemical weapons against the Syrian people, the President has augmented the provision of non-lethal assistance to the civilian opposition, and also authorized the expansion of our assistance to the Supreme Military Council (SMC), and we will be consulting with Congress on these matters in the coming weeks. This effort is aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of the SMC, and helping to coordinate the provision of assistance by the United States and other partners and allies. Put simply, the Assad regime should know that its actions have led us to increase the scope and scale of assistance that we provide to the opposition, including direct support to the SMC. These efforts will increase going forward.
The United States and the international community have a number of other legal, financial, diplomatic, and military responses available. We are prepared for all contingencies, and we will make decisions on our own timeline. Any future action we take will be consistent with our national interest, and must advance our objectives, which include achieving a negotiated political settlement to establish an authority that can provide basic stability and administer state institutions; protecting the rights of all Syrians; securing unconventional and advanced conventional weapons; and countering terrorist activity.
Photos: UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon and his personal friend Barack Obama - Ban Ki-moon visits the Pentagon
April 10, 2013 in human rights council (unhrc).
GENEVA, April 10, 2013 – UN Watch welcomed U.S. condemnation today of Syria’s membership on a 30-country United Nations human rights committee that is meeting in Paris this week, part of a two-week UNESCO Executive Board session that opened today.
UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights NGO, heads a global campaign of more than 50 parliamentarians, human rights and religious groups that has repeatedly called for Syria’s expulsion and urged action by US, the EU and the UN.
“Having the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad as a global judge of human rights is like appointing a pyromaniac to be a firefighter,” said Neuer. “UNESCO is allowing the Assad regime to strut in Paris as a U.N. human rights arbiter — it’s immoral, indefensible and an insult to Syria’s victims.”
Syria is an elected member of the UNESCO executive board, and in 2011 was also elected — after the Assad regime’s massacre of its citizens already began — to two of its human rights committees: the Committee on Conventions and Recommendations, which rules on individual human rights complaints against governments, and meets today and tomorrow; and the 23-member Committee on Non-governmental Partners, which oversees the work of human rights groups, and meets tomorrow.
David Killion, U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO, in response today to a question by UN Watch, said that “the Syrian regime’s actions are an affront to the dignity and human rights of the Syrian people, and it is not fit to sit on this body.”
Ambassador Killion reaffirmed the U.S. government’s strong objection to Syria’s participation in the UNESCO Committee on Conventions and Recommendations stating, “It is indefensible for the Syrian regime to be allowed to stand as a judge of other countries’ human rights records while it systematically violates the human rights of its citizens, commits acts of sexual violence against women and children, and murders its own people.”
UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer saluted the U.S. for speaking out, and urged France, Germany, the UK, and the EU to similarly condemn Syria’s “obscene” membership on the committee, and to take concrete action to remove it. Neuer also called on UN chief Ban Ki-moon and UNESCO director Irina Bokova “to use their moral voice to spur action.”
“Now that both the OIC and the Arab League have removed Assad’s regime from their organizations, there is simply no longer any excuse — morally or politically — for UNESCO to insist on keeping Assad’s regime on a human rights committee that is charged with helping victims worldwide. It’s time for UNESCO to stop legitimizing a government that mercilessly murders its own people,” said Neuer.
Ambassador Killion also told UN Watch that “The Assad regime has repeatedly acted to silence the voice of the Syrian people and to repress independent media attempting to report on its misdeeds. The regime’s brutality has sparked a humanitarian crisis, causing innocent suffering and senseless tragedy. This is a regime willing to exact collective punishment on innocent communities, import fighters from Iran and Hizbollah to help carry out its evil deeds, and destroy the country and its heritage for the sake of its own survival.”
After UNESCO elected Syria to its human rights committee in November 2011, UN Watch launched a campaign to reverse the decision, prompting the US and Britain to initiate a March 2012 debate at UNESCO. However, while a resolution was adopted censuring Syria’s violations — a welcome first for UNESCO — the promised call to oust the regime from UNESCO’s human rights panel was excised.
Last year UN Watch received notice from the British Foreign Office that it would seek to cancel Syria’s “abhorrent” membership. In an email to UN Watch, the UK said it “deplores the continuing membership of Syria on this committee and does not believe that Syria’s presence is conducive to the work of the body or UNESCO’s reputation. We have therefore joined with other countries in putting forward an item for the first meeting of the Executive Board at which we will seek to explicitly address Syria’s membership of the body.”
The UK also expressed hope that other members of the executive board will join London in ending what it called“this abhorrent [and] anomalous situation.”
Paris insiders say that UNESCO diplomats from non-democratic regimes are afraid to create a precedent of ousting repressive governments.
“However, now that the Arab League recently removed Assad’s regime, we must take advantage of the new political momentum. It’s time for Britain to uphold its pledge and demand Syria’s expulsion,” said Neuer.
“The Assad regime’s ongoing membership calls into question the credibility of UNESCO’s mission to promote human rights, and Syria’s membership is a lingering stain upon the reputation of the UN as a whole.”