NSA Gone Wild: Spying on UN, European Union and 80 Embassies Worldwide

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
(graphic: ACLU)

Embarrassing revelations about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) spy operations continue to surface, with the latest accounts involving the United Nations, the European Union and embassies throughout the world.


Using documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that the U.S. spy agency bugged the UN’s headquarters in New York City and listened in on conversations at the European Union (EU), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and at least 80 embassies and consulates around the globe.


One internal document showed NSA officials were very pleased once they began eavesdropping on UN talks by tapping into the video conferencing system. “The data traffic gives us internal video teleconferences of the United Nations (yay!),” the document reads, according to Der Spiegel.


The same bugging also gave NSA snoops access to EU and IAEA offices.


Information provided by Snowden also showed that NSA seeks “information superiority” vis-à-vis the rest of the world. The agency has numerous clandestine operations in place to achieve its goal, some of which date back to the Cold War era.


The 1970s program “Blarney” involved the cooperation of at least one American telecommunications company, while going after “diplomatic establishment, counter-terrorism, foreign government and economic” targets.


Another program, “Rampart-T,” has focused on the “penetration of hard targets at or near the leadership level” (read: heads of state and their top aides) since 1991.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

NSA Bugs United Nations With Enthusiasm, Documents Suggest (by Connor Simpson Atlantic Wire)

Codename 'Apalachee': How America Spies on Europe and the UN (by Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark, Spiegel)

Surveillance Revelations Shake U.S.-German Ties (by Alison Smale, New York Times)

Has the NSA ever Used its Surveillance Powers for Purposes other than Combating Terrorism? You Bet (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)        

Concerned U.S. Allies Want Privacy Guarantees in Wake of NSA Revelations (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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