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  • NSA Spied On Brazil, Mexico Leaders, Glenn Greenwald Says

    RIO DE JANEIRO — The Brazilian government condemned a U.S. spy program that reportedly targeted the nation’s leader, labeled it an “unacceptable invasion” of sovereignty and called Monday for international regulations to protect citizens and governments alike from cyber espionage.

    In a sign that fallout over the spy program is spreading, the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported that President Dilma Rousseff is considering canceling her October trip to the U.S., where she has been scheduled to be honored with a state dinner. Folha cited unidentified Rousseff aides. The president’s office declined to comment.

    The Foreign Ministry called in U.S. Ambassador Thomas Shannon and told him Brazil expects the White House to provide a prompt written explanation over the espionage allegations.

    The action came after a report aired Sunday night on Globo TV citing 2012 documents from NSA leaker Edward Snowden that indicated the U.S. intercepted Rousseff’s emails and telephone calls, along with those of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, whose communications were being monitored even before he was elected as president in July 2012.

    Mexico’s government said it had expressed its concerns to the U.S. ambassador and directly to the U.S. administration.

    Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo said, “We’re going to talk with our partners, including developed and developing nations, to evaluate how they protect themselves and to see what joint measures could be taken in the face of this grave situation.”

    He added that “there has to be international regulations that prohibit citizens and governments alike from being exposed to interceptions, violations of privacy and cyberattacks.”

    Justice Minister Eduardo Cardozo said at a joint news conference with Figueiredo that “from our point of view, this represents an unacceptable violation of Brazilian sovereignty.”

    “This type of practice is incompatible with the confidence necessary for a strategic partnership between two nations,” Cardozo said.

    Earlier, Sen. Ricardo Ferraco, head of the Brazilian Senate’s foreign relations committee, said lawmakers already had decided to formally investigate the U.S. program’s focus on Brazil because of earlier revelations that the country was a top target of the NSA spying in the region. He said the probe would likely start this week.

    “I feel a mixture of amazement and indignation. It seems like there are no limits. When the phone of the president of the republic is monitored, it’s hard to imagine what else might be happening,” Ferraco told reporters in Brasilia. “It’s unacceptable that in a country like ours, where there is absolutely no climate of terrorism, that there is this type of spying.”

    During the Sunday night TV program, U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro and first broke the story about the NSA program in Britain’s Guardian newspaper after receiving tens of thousands of documents from Snowden, told the news program “Fantastico” that a document dated June 2012 shows that Pena Nieto’s emails were being read. The document’s date is the month before Pena Nieto was elected.

    The document indicated who Pena Nieto would like to name to some government posts, among other information.

    It’s not clear if the spying continues.

    As for Brazil’s leader, the NSA document “doesn’t include any of Dilma’s specific intercepted messages, the way it does for Nieto,” Greenwald told The Associated Press in an email. “But it is clear in several ways that her communications were intercepted, including the use of DNI Presenter, which is a program used by NSA to open and read emails and online chats.”

    The U.S. targeting mapped out the aides with whom Rousseff communicated and tracked patterns of how those aides communicated with one another and also with third parties, according to the document.

    In July, Greenwald co-wrote articles in the O Globo newspaper that said documents leaked by Snowden indicate Brazil was the largest target in Latin America for the NSA program, which collected data on billions of emails and calls flowing through Brazil.

    The spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Brazil’s capital, Dean Chaves, said in an emailed response that U.S. officials wouldn’t comment “on every specific alleged intelligence activity.” But he said, “We value our relationship with Brazil, understand that they have valid concerns about these disclosures, and we will continue to engage with the Brazilian government in an effort to address those concerns.”

    In Mexico City, the Mexican foreign ministry said it sent a diplomatic note to the U.S. asking for a thorough investigation of the report’s claims. It said officials also summoned the U.S. ambassador to express Mexico’s concerns.

    “Without assuming the information that came out in the media is accurate, Mexico’s government rejects and condemns any espionage activity on Mexican citizens that violate international law,” the Foreign Relations Department said. “This type of practice is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and the International Court of Justice.”

    The U.S. Embassy in Mexico highlighted the “close cooperation” of Mexico and the U.S. in many areas, but said it wouldn’t comment on the NSA program or its alleged targeting of the Mexican leader.

    Associated Press writer Bradley Brooks reported this story in Rio de Janeiro and Marco Sibaja reported in Brasilia. Associated Press writer Michael Weissenstein in Mexico City contributed to this report.


    Find this story at 2 September 2013

    Copyright © 2013 TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc.

    NSA ‘spied on Brazil and Mexico’ – Brazilian TV report

    Brazil says it will demand an explanation from the US after allegations that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on Brazilian government communications.

    The allegations were made by Rio-based journalist Glenn Greenwald in a programme on TV Globo on Sunday.

    Mr Greenwald obtained secret files from US whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

    Communications from the Mexican president were also accessed by the NSA, Mr Greenwald said.

    The US ambassador to Brazil, Thomas Shannon, was briefly summoned to the Brazilian foreign ministry, “to explain” the claims made by the American journalist.

    He did not speak to reporters when he left, and there have been no comments from the foreign ministry either.
    ‘Attack on sovereignty’

    Mr Greenwald, a columnist for the British Guardian newspaper, told TV Globo’s news programme Fantastico that secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden showed how US agents had spied on communications between aides of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff.

    Brazil’s Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo said that “if these facts prove to be true, it would be unacceptable and could be called an attack on our country’s sovereignty”.

    According to the report, the NSA also used a programme to access all internet content that Ms Rousseff visited online.

    Her office said the president was meeting top ministers to discuss the case.

    The BBC’s Julia Carneiro in Sao Paulo says that the suspicion in Brazil as to why the United States is allegedly spying Brazilian government communications is because Brazil is a big player and there are lots of commercial interests involved.
    Mexican connection

    The report also alleges that the NSA monitored the communications of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, even before he was elected in July last year.

    Mr Greenwald said that a document dating from June 2012 showed that Mr Pena Nieto’s emails were being read.

    A spokesman for the Mexican foreign ministry told the Agence France Presse news agency that he had seen the report but had no comment.

    The documents were provided to Mr Greenwald by ex-US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, who was granted temporary asylum in Russia after leaking secret information to media in the US and Britain.

    Mr Greenwald was the first journalist to reveal the secret documents leaked by Mr Snowden on 6 June. Since then, he has written a series of stories about surveillance by US and UK authorities.

    The detention last month for nine hours at London’s Heathrow airport of Mr Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, caused widespread controversy in the UK and abroad.

    Mr Greenwald said the detention of his partner amounted to “bullying” and was “clearly intended to send a message of intimidation” to those working on the NSA revelations.

    2 September 2013 Last updated at 12:20 ET

    Find this story at 2 September 2013

    BBC © 2013 The BBC

    Is CSE metadata-mining Canadian call records?

    The recent confirmation that NSA is performing data mining on the telephone records of Americans raises an important question for Canadians, is CSE likewise mining the call records of people in Canada?

    The short answer is I don’t know. But there are some telling indications that CSE is interested in undertaking such monitoring and that it may well be doing it to one degree or another.

    First, let’s look at the program in the U.S. From the original Guardian report and subsequent revelations (see, for example, Shane Harris, “What We Know About the NSA Metadata Program,” Dead Drop blog, 6 June 2013) we now know quite a lot about the NSA’s domestic phone records monitoring program, including the following features about it:
    Current procedures date from 2006, but the program began shortly after 9/11
    Entails data mining of nationwide telephone call records
    Focus on metadata, not content
    Network analysis involved
    Undertaken as part of counter-terrorism effort
    Now consider this description of data mining research conducted in 2006 by CSE and the Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems (MITACS) project, a Canadian network of academia, industry, and the public sector (originally posted here but subsequently removed; archived version here; first blogged by me here):
    As part of ongoing collaborations with the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), we are applying unsupervised and semi-supervised learning methods to understand transactions on large dynamic networks, such as telephone and email networks. When viewed as a graph, the nodes correspond to individuals that send or receive messages, and edges correspond to the messages themselves. The graphs we address can be observed in real-time, include from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of nodes, and feature thousands to millions of transactions. There are two goals associated with this project: firstly, there is the semi-supervised learning task, and rare-target problem, in which we wish to identify certain types of nodes; secondly, there is the unsupervised learning task of detecting anomalous messages. For reasons of efficiency, we have restricted our attention to meta-data of message transactions, such as the time, sender, and recipient, and ignored the contents of messages themselves. In collaboration with CSE, we are studying the problem of counter-terrorism, a semi-supervised problem in which some terrorists in a large network are labeled, but most are not…. Another common feature of counter-terrorism problems is the fact that large volumes of data are often “streamed” through various collection sites, in order to provide maximal information in a timely fashion. A consequence of efficient collection of transactions on very large graphs is that the data itself can only be stored for a short time. This leads to a nonstandard learning problem, since most learning algorithms assume that the full dataset can be accessed for training purposes. Working in conjunction with CSE, we will devise on-line learning algorithms that scale efficiently with increasing volume, and need only use each example once. [Emphasis added.]
    Note these features:
    Applicable to telephone and email networks
    Thousands to millions of transactions
    Metadata, not content, examined
    Counter-terrorism related

    Familiar looking?

    Consider also this comment made by then-CSE Chief John Adams to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence on 30 April 2007:
    What is your interpretation of intercept, if I were to ask? If you asked me, it would be if I heard someone talking to someone else or if I read someone’s writing. An intercept would not be to look on the outside of the envelope. That is not an intercept to me. Unfortunately, that is not everyone’s interpretation of intercept, so the suggestion is that we should define that in the legislation…. Intercept is defined in another piece of legislation, and that is where people would probably look if they were searching for a definition of intercept. They are saying that could be troublesome for us, so we had better define it in our act to avoid that problem. That sort of thing has not come up as an issue, but it could.

    As I noted in an earlier post, that sounds an awful lot like something you would say if you wanted to collect phone call metadata (number called, duration of call, etc.) and similar addressing information for e-mails and other communications — and felt you already had the legal basis to do so.

    Would such monitoring be legal in Canada? I don’t know. (Usual disclaimer about not being a lawyer applies.)

    Michael Geist suggests that s. 21 of the CSIS Act might be used to authorize the activity; CSE’s participation would then be based on CSIS’s authority.

    Another possibility is that CSE might consider its foreign intelligence mandate (processing the records as part of the hunt for foreign terrorists) sufficient to authorize such monitoring. It is possible that this somewhat cryptic passage in the CSE oversight commissioner’s 2010-11 Annual Report is referring in whole or in part to such activities:

    CSEC conducts a number of activities for the purposes of locating new sources of foreign intelligence. When other means have been exhausted, CSEC may use information about Canadians when it has reasonable grounds to believe that using this information may assist in identifying and obtaining foreign intelligence. CSEC conducts these activities infrequently, but they can be a valuable tool in meeting Government of Canada intelligence priorities. CSEC does not require a ministerial authorization to conduct these activities because they do not involve interception of private communications. However, a ministerial directive provides guidance on the conduct of these activities.

    In recent years, three reviews have involved some degree of examination of these activities: a Review of CSEC’s foreign intelligence collection in support of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) (Phase II) (2006); a Review of CSEC’s activities carried out under a (different) ministerial directive (2008); and a Review of CSEC’s support to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) (2008).

    In his 2006–2007 Annual Report, the late Commissioner Gonthier questioned whether the foreign signals intelligence part of CSEC’s mandate (part (a) of its mandate) was the appropriate authority in all instances for CSEC to provide support to the RCMP in the pursuit of its domestic criminal investigations. In his 2007–2008 Annual Report, Commissioner Gonthier stated that pending a re-examination of the legal issues raised, no assessment would be made of the lawfulness of CSEC’s activities in support of the RCMP under the foreign signals intelligence part of CSEC’s mandate. He also noted that CSEC’s support to CSIS raised similar issues. Commissioner Gonthier emphasized that although he was in agreement with the advice that the Department of Justice had provided to CSEC, he questioned which part of CSEC’s mandate — part (a) or part (c), the assistance part of CSEC’s mandate — should be used as the proper authority for conducting the activities.

    Subsequent to these reviews and statements in the annual reports, the Chief of CSEC suspended these activities. CSEC then made significant changes to related policies, procedures and practices.

    Review rationale

    These activities involve CSEC’s use and analysis of information about Canadians for foreign intelligence purposes. Specific controls are placed on these activities to ensure compliance with legal, ministerial and policy requirements. Major changes to certain policies, procedures and practices have recently occurred. This was the first review of these activities since the Chief of CSEC allowed their resumption under new policies and procedures.

    None of the above proves that CSE has been analyzing Canadians’ call records. But with NSA examining U.S. records, you can bet that CSE at the very least has taken a good, hard look at the possibility of doing the same in Canada. And some of the above certainly suggests that they may have gone well beyond just considering the possibility.

    When the question of whether CSE was data mining Canadian call records came up in 2006, CSE was quick to make a perhaps carefully worded denial. This time around, not so much (Mitch Potter & Michelle Shephard, “Canadians not safe from U.S. online surveillance, expert says,” Toronto Star, 7 June 2013):

    the Toronto Star contacted CSEC for comment Friday about its own metadata collection program, but received a boilerplate statement stressing that the agency is “prohibited by law from directing its activities at Canadians anywhere in the world or at any person in Canada” and “operates within all Canadian laws.”

    “The Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) cannot comment on its methods, operations and capabilities. To do so would undermine CSEC’s ability to carry out its mandate. It would also be inappropriate to comment on the activities or capabilities of our allies,” the statement said.

    Which doesn’t prove anything either.

    [Update 10 June 2013: But it would appear that this article does prove that metadata monitoring is being done: Colin Freeze, “Data-collection program got green light from MacKay in 2011,” Globe and Mail, 10 June 2013.]

    Sunday, June 09, 2013

    Find this story at 9 June 2013

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