Mark Collins – Here an Intercept, There an Intercept, Everywhere an Intercept

Further to this post,

Shock! Horror! The Threat from CSIS Operating Abroad

one wishes our oh so fastidious former ambassadors would consider this post at The XX Committee blog:

The World of Espionage in 2015

The latest Wikileaks sensation concerns allegations that the U.S. National Security Agency has been spying on Paris. Based on purloined intelligence documents, it appears that NSA has intercepted the communications of three French presidents – Chirac, Sarkozy, and Hollande.

President Obama has delivered his usual mea culpa, as he previously did with Chancellor Merkel, adding that the United States is no longer doing such things. That may, or may not, be true, but there’s little doubt that NSA will be back to intercepting high-level communications in Paris soon, no matter what Obama says right now.

France, although it’s an ally that’s back in NATO after decades of being barely in the Atlantic Alliance, is also a major world power that has nuclear weapons and often doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Washington – or London. Of course NSA and its Anglosphere partners like Britain’s GCHQ are trying to intercept the phone calls and emails of the French president and his top officials. They would be derelict of duty if they did not.

France’s difficult trade relations – not always noted for their transparency – alone would be enough to justify monitoring the Élysée Palace. When you add to that Parisian longstanding ties to questionable regimes and the venerable French tendency to go their own way in foreign affairs – while not always being honest with allies about their unstated policies – knowing what Paris is really up to is something any major power will want to know. In reality, there are dozens of intelligence services that want to know what’s happing in the Élysée Palace, and the BND is one of them.

The official French reaction to the NSA revelations has been moderate, in contrast to the German hysteria over Handygate. The American ambassador has been summoned, but that’s as far as this “scandal” will really go. Paris has no intention of making a “big deal” over this story.

Some of this has to do with French maturity about espionage. Everybody spies. Every developed country has a foreign intelligence service whose job is breaking the laws of foreign countries. France knows this [well, Canada doesn’t as such for HUMINT–ours is just a security intelligence service that can operate abroad]

Any world leader in 2015 who does not think that his or her communications are being targeted intensely by multiple intelligence agencies is so foolish as to be unfit for office.

Smart leaders understand that they may be subject to monitoring at any time…

Gosh.   Meanwhile the Brazilian and US presidents have publicly buried the SIGINT hatchet (remember the shocked and appalled reference to CSE and Brazil in the piece by Messrs Heinbecker and Livermore?).

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a 
Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


5 thoughts on “Mark Collins – Here an Intercept, There an Intercept, Everywhere an Intercept”

  1. “I am aware of at least three world leaders in recent memory who, aware that somebody may be listening in, intentionally gave misleading information on an open telephone line. On at least one occasion, such a clever lie to fool the spies significantly skewed major international diplomacy – to the advantage of that leader’s country.”.

    This particular leadership stratagem comes highly recommended by Julius Frontinus, who as far as we know, didn’t even own a telephone.

    As Schindler says, the second oldest profession.

  2. Perhaps someone should have intercepted the late Arthur Porter’s calls:

    Earlier on Dr Porter:

    “Making Complete Mockery of Supervising Canadian Security Intelligence (CSIS)”

    Mark Collins

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