Embassy Row: Charges of U.S. spying erupt in Asia

The U.S. spying scandal is spreading to Asia, where the foreign ministers of Malaysia and Indonesia have chastised American diplomats and publicly denounced the National Security Agency.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman also complained to Australian diplomats after reports that Australian intelligence agencies were cooperating with the NSA.

The Sydney Morning Herald last week reported that the U.S. embassies in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand are engaged in electronic surveillance of the governments in those South Asian nations.

Mr. Aman on Friday summoned Lee McClenny, the deputy ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Malaysia, and Miles Kupa, the Australian ambassador in Kuala Lumpur. Mr. McClenny represented U.S. Ambassador Joseph Y. Yun, who was out of town.

The foreign minister delivered protest notes to each diplomat “in response to the alleged spying activities carried out by the two embassies” in the Malaysian capital.

In Indonesia, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa last week complained to Kristen F. Bauer, who has been acting U.S. ambassador since Ambassador ScotMarciel left Jakarta in July.

“Indonesia cannot accept and protests strongly over the report about wiretapping facilities at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta,” the foreign minister told reporters.

PLAYING BALL

President Obama stepped up to the plate to reward a loyal political supporter who once played outfield for his favorite baseball team, the Chicago White Sox.

Mr. Obama last week nominated Mark D. Gilbert to serve as ambassador to New Zealand.

Mr. Gilbert, who spent only 11 days in the major leagues during the 1985 season, is believed to be the only former professional baseball player to be nominated for such a high rank in the U.S. diplomatic service.

“Baseball is America’s pastime, so what better way to represent the United States overseas than with someone who began his career as a major league baseball player?” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told The Associated Press.

Mr. Gilbert, a 57-year-old bank executive and former Obama fundraiser, played in only seven games for the White Sox before he was sent back to a minor league team in Buffalo, N.Y. He also served two terms as deputy finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

By James Morrison
The Washington Times
Sunday, November 3, 2013

Find this story at 3 November 2013

© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC.

Listening post revealed on Cocos Islands

Australia’s electronic spy agency is intercepting Indonesian naval and military communications through a secret radio listening post on the remote Cocos Islands.

According to former defence officials, the Defence Signals Directorate runs the signals interception and monitoring base on Australia’s Indian Ocean territory, 1100 kilometres south-west of Java.

Along with the better-known Shoal Bay Receiving Station near Darwin, the previously unreported Cocos Island facility forms a key part of Australia’s signals intelligence efforts targeting Indonesia.

Known locally as ”the house without windows”, it includes radio monitoring and direction-finding equipment and a satellite ground station. But the station is of little help in combating people smuggling, according to the former intelligence officers.

The station has never been publicly acknowledged by the government, nor previously reported in the media, despite operating for more than two decades.

The Defence Department would not comment, and said only that it hosts ”a communications station” that formed part of the wider defence communications network.

But former defence officers have confirmed that the station is a Defence Signals Directorate facility devoted to maritime and military surveillance, especially Indonesian naval, air force and military communications.

Google Earth imagery of the property, discreetly placed amid coconut palm groves on the south-east part of West Island, shows four cleared areas each with radio mast sets, including a 44-metre-wide ”circularly disposed antenna array” for high-frequency and very high-frequency radio direction finding.

Australian National University intelligence expert Des Ball said the facility was operated remotely from the Defence Signals Directorate headquarters at Russel Hill, in Canberra. Intercepted signals are encrypted and relayed to Canberra.

He said preparations for the Cocos station began in the late 1980s, and involved a highly secretive signals intelligence group, the Royal Australian Air Force’s No. 3 Telecommunications Unit.

In the face of what it described as ”extremely challenging logistics”, an Adelaide-based company, Australian Satellite Communication, then installed a communications satellite earth station at the facility.

The Cocos Island signals intelligence station forms part of broad Australian espionage efforts directed at the Indonesian government.

As reported by Fairfax Media on Thursday, these programs include a covert Defence Signals Directorate surveillance facility at the Australian embassy in Jakarta. One former defence intelligence officer said Australia’s monitoring of Indonesian communications was ”very effective” and allowed assessments of the seriousness of Indonesian efforts to combat people smuggling.

But the former intelligence officer said the Cocos and Shoal Bay facilities were of ”limited utility” in finding vessels carrying asylum seekers that avoided using radios or satellite phones until they contacted the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

Richard Tanter, of the Nautilus Institute of Security and Sustainability, said the Cocos Islands station was likely to be intercepting increasing volumes of naval and military communications.

”With the increasing Australian and US interest in the Indian Ocean region, it is likely to become more important,” he said.

Date: November 01 2013

Philip Dorling

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Spy expert says Australia operating as ‘listening post’ for US agencies including the NSA

Spy expert says Australia operating as ‘listening post’ for US agencies including the NSA

A veteran spy watcher claims Australia is playing a role in America’s intelligence networks by monitoring vast swathes of the Asia Pacific region and feeding information to the US.

Intelligence expert Professor Des Ball says the Australian Signals Directorate – formerly known as the Defence Signals Directorate – is sharing information with the National Security Agency (NSA).

The NSA is the agency at the heart of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaks, and has recently been accused of tapping into millions of phone calls of ordinary citizens in France, Germany and Spain.

Mr Ball says Australia has been monitoring the Asia Pacific region for the US using local listening posts.

“You can’t get into the information circuits and play information warfare successfully unless you’re into the communications of the higher commands in [the] various countries in our neighbourhood,” he told Lateline.

Mr Ball says Australia has four key facilities that are part of the XKeyscore program, the NSA’s controversial computer system that searches and analyses vast amounts of internet data.

They include the jointly-run Pine Gap base near Alice Springs, a satellite station outside Geraldton in Western Australia, a facility at Shoal Bay, near Darwin, and a new centre in Canberra.

Mr Ball says security is the focus for Australia’s intelligence agencies.

“At the top of [the list of priorities] you’re going to find communications relating to terrorist activities, particularly if there’s alerts about particular incidents,” Mr Ball said.

A secret map released by Snowden revealed the US had also set up surveillance facilities in embassies and consulates, including in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Phnom Penh, Bangkok, Yangon, Manila, Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai and Beijing.

“Australia itself has used foreign embassies for listening purposes [in] an operation codenamed Reprieve … in which we’ve used embassies in our region to monitor local, essentially microwave-relayed telephone conversations,” Mr Ball said.

“The fact that the United States has special collection elements that are doing this today is no different from what many other countries are doing today. It’s not unusual.”

Some critics have raised concerns about the extent of the NSA’s spying program, suggesting that communications of ordinary Australians may have been pried on.

Xenophon calls on Government to protect Australians from US surveillance

Mr Ball says Australia, the US, the UK, New Zealand and Canada have a long-standing “five eyes” agreement to not spy on each other, and he believes it has not been breached.

“The fact that it hasn’t [been breached] for over five decades I think signifies to the integrity of at least that part of the arrangement,” he said.

But independent Senator Nick Xenophon says the Government should do more to ensure Australians are not subject to the surveillence from US agencies.

“At the very least, the Australian Government should be calling in the US ambassador and asking whether the level of scrutiny, the level of access to citizens’ phone records in Germany, France and Spain, has been happening here,” he said.

“I think we deserve an answer on that.”

Former NSA executive lifts lid on spy practices

In 2010, former NSA senior executive Thomas Drake was charged with leaking government secrets to a journalist.

He was tried under the US espionage act but his case was ultimately reduced to a minor misdemeanour charge. He escaped a jail sentence after a finding that the information he disclosed was not classified.

He agrees with Mr Ball that the US has not breached its spying agreement with Australia.

But he told Lateline those five nations do “utilise each other’s services” to gather information on other “fair game” nations.

“Much of it is legit, but increasingly since 9/11 because of the sheer power of technology and access to the world’s communication systems … [agencies have] extraordinary access to even more data on just about anything and anybody,” he told Lateline.

“And what they want is to do so and have access to it any time, anywhere, any place.”

US moves to ease concerns about NSA

US president Barack Obama has come under fierce criticism over allegations that the NSA tapped the mobile phone of German chancellor Angela Merkel and conducted widespread electronic snooping in France, Italy, Spain and elsewhere.

Amid a growing uproar, White House officials have said they will review intelligence collection programs with an eye to narrowing their scope.

“We need to make sure that we’re collecting intelligence in a way that advances our security needs and that we don’t just do it because we can,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Mr Drake says it is alarming that a nation would spy on those it considers allies.

“Spying on others is considered the world’s second oldest profession and so the idea that nation states would engage in spying on others is no surprise, not at all,” he said.

“I think what’s particularly pernicious here is the fact we’re actually listening on the personal communications of the highest levels of governments in countries that are supposed to be our allies and are actually partnered with us in ensuring that we deal and defend against threats to international order and stability.”

Spying ‘done behind the veil of secrecy’

He says most countries go along with US requests for data.

“It’s heavy stuff and when it’s done behind the veil of secrecy, outside the public view then hey, it’s whatever you can get away with because you can,” he said.

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should and I actually think it’s encouraging the countries are standing up against the US in this regard because it is overreach.

“It really is going far beyond the mandate to ensure international order and stability, even in partnership with other countries.

“The real fundamental threat here though is ultimately the sovereignty of individuals, who we are as people. We’re supposed to have rights.

“What’s happened after 9/11 is now security has kind of taken primacy over rights and liberties because of the real or perceived threat.”

Snowden ‘aware his revelations have been explosive’

Snowden is currently holed up in Russia after leaking information about America’s vast surveillance operations.

Mr Drake recently met Snowden in Moscow, and says the former NSA contractor is aware his disclosures have been “quite explosive”.

“His focus is on reform. His focus is on rolling back the surveillance data. His focus is repealing many of the enabling act legislation that put all this into place, or at least enabled the government in secrecy to expand the surveillance date far beyond its original mandate,” Mr Drake said.

“He’s obviously grateful that he’s got temporary asylum in Russia. I don’t think it was certainly not a place he was planning on going to or remaining in for any length of time.

“He’s looking forward, at some point in the future, to returning to the US but that’s certainly not possible right now.

“The US has already levied serious charges against him including the same charges that they levied against me under the espionage act.”

By Jason Om and staff –
October 30, 2013, 11:54 am

Find this story at 30 October 2013

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Stateroom

STATEROOM sites are covert SIGINT collection sites located in diplomatic facilities abroad. SIGINT agencies hosting such sites include SCS (at U.S> diplomatic facilities), Government Communications headquarters or GCHQ (at British diplomatic facilities), Communication Security Establishments or CSE (at Canadian diplomatic facilities), and Defense Signals Directorate (at Australian diplomatic facilities). These sites are small in size and in the number of personnel staffing them. They are covert, and their true mission is not known by the majority of the diplomatic staff at the facility where they are assigned.”

Find this story at 27 October 2013

Outrage at alleged U.S. spying efforts gathers steam in Asian capitals

China’s government is “severely concerned about the reports and demands a clarification and explanation,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said. Government officials in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand – all U.S. allies – made similarly angry statements.

“Indonesia strongly protests the existence of a tapping facility in the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said. “If it’s confirmed, such action is not only a breach of security, but also a serious violation of diplomatic norms and ethics, and certainly not in tune with the spirit of friendly relations between nations.”

The Asian leaders were reacting to a report this week in the German magazine Der Spiegel and a Sydney Morning Herald article Thursday that named cities in which embassies are used for electronic surveillance by the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – a group of intelligence partners known as the “5-eyes.”

The reports were based on a secret National Security Agency document that was leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden and first published by Der Spiegel. The Sydney newspaper, part of the Fairfax Media group, also included information provided by an unidentified former Australian intelligence officer.

Code-named STATEROOM, the program used disguised surveillance equipment in about 80 embassies and consulates worldwide, the Herald reported, adding that the equipment is concealed in roof maintenance sheds or as features of the building itself.

Nineteen of the diplomatic facilities are in Europe. The Asian embassies involved include those in Jakarta; Bangkok; Hanoi; Beijing; Dili, East Timor; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott declined to discuss the Herald report in detail, but he told reporters, “Every Australian governmental agency, every Australian official at home and abroad operates in accordance with the law, and that’s the assurance that I can give people at home and abroad.”

In an interview with the Associated Press, Australian intelligence expert Desmond Ball said he had seen covert antennas in five of the embassies named in the Australian media report. But Ball, a professor with the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defense Studies Center, declined to specify which embassies.

Notably absent from the list of countries reportedly under surveillance in the program are the staunchest U.S. allies in Asia, Japan and South Korea. This week, Japanese media reported that the NSA had asked the Japanese government in 2011 for permission to tap fiber-optic cables in Japan, which carries much traffic throughout East Asia, as a way to collect surveillance on China. But the Japanese government refused, citing legal hurdles and lack of manpower.

On Wednesday, in response to reports of U.S. surveillance of European leaders, the Chinese Foreign Ministry called cybersecurity “a matter of sovereignty” and said China was taking steps to increase its security, as well as joining Russia in backing a U.N. proposal to address such surveillance.

China’s state-run media have also roundly criticized the United States, with headlines declaring that the revelations would weaken U.S. global influence. Commentators accusedthe United States, which for years has complained of Chinese cyberattacks, of hypocrisy and demanded U.S. apologies.

According to U.S. security experts, Chinese cyberspies, including hackers affiliated with the Chinese military, have stolen industrial secrets for years and have penetrated powerful Washington institutions, including law firms, think tanks, news organizations, human rights groups, contractors, congressional offices, embassies and federal agencies.

Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said his government takes the reports seriously and is trying to confirm whether such intelligence gathering had taken place. “It is a sensitive issue since it involves several countries,” Zahid said.

The opposition party criticized Malaysia’s government for being too “submissive” in its reaction to the United States.

Lt. Gen. Paradorn Pattanatabut, secretary-general of Thailand’s National Security Council, said his government would tell Washington that such surveillance is against Thai law and that Thai security agencies have been put on alert.

If asked, Paradorn said, Thailand would not cooperate with such U.S. spying programs. But he also emphasized that “we believe that Thailand and the U.S. still enjoy good and cordial relations.”

Chico Harlan in Seoul contributed to this report.

Michael Birnbaum 12:00 PM ET

Find this story at 31 October 2013

© 1996-2013 The Washington Post

Australia accused of using embassies to spy on neighbours

Documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden contain details of surveillance collection programme across Asia

Australia’s embassies are part of a US-led global spying network and are being used to intercept calls and data across Asia, it has been claimed.

There are surveillance collection facilities at embassies in Jakarta, Bangkok, Hanoi, Beijing and Dili, and high commissions in Kuala Lumpur and Port Moresby, Fairfax Media reports, with diplomats unaware of them.

Some of the details are in a secret US National Security Agency (NSA) document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden and published by Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine.

The document reveals the existence of a signals intelligence collection program – codenamed STATEROOM – conducted from sites at US embassies and consulates and from the diplomatic missions of intelligence partners including Australia, Britain and Canada.

The document says the Australian Defence Signals Directorate operates STATEROOM facilities “at Australian diplomatic facilities”.

“They are covert, and their true mission is not known by the majority of the diplomatic staff at the facility where they are assigned,” the document says.

A former Australian Defence Intelligence officer told Fairfax the directorate conducted surveillance operations from Australian embassies across Asia and the Pacific.

The Department of Foreign Affairs would not comment on “intelligence matters”, Fairfax said.

The US has been embarrassed by media leaks from Snowden that the NSA listened in on the communications of dozens of foreign leaders, including the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

Australian Associated Press
theguardian.com, Wednesday 30 October 2013 22.30 GMT

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© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Exposed: Australia’s Asia spy network

Leading intelligence and security academic Prof. Des Ball discusses the history of embassy spying and says Australia is a target in our own capital.

Australian embassies are being secretly used to intercept phone calls and data across Asia as part of a US-led global spying network, according to whistleblower Edward Snowden and a former Australian intelligence officer.

The top secret Defence Signals Directorate operates the clandestine surveillance facilities at embassies without the knowledge of most Australian diplomats.

International outcry: A Stop Watching US Rally in Washington D.C. Photo: Getty Images

The revelations come as the US has been left red-faced by news it has been eavesdropping on foreign leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
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US President Barack Obama is said to be on the verge of ordering a halt to spying on the heads of allied governments following the international outcry.

Fairfax Media has been told that signals intelligence collection takes place from embassies in Jakarta, Bangkok, Hanoi, Beijing and Dili, and High Commissions in Kuala Lumpur and Port Moresby, as well as other diplomatic posts.

Edward Snowden: Leaked a secret US National Security Agency document. Photo: Reuters

A secret US National Security Agency document leaked by Mr Snowden and published by Germany’s Der Speigel reveals the existence of a highly sensitive signals intelligence collection program conducted from sites at US embassies and consulates and from the diplomatic missions of other “Five eyes” intelligence partners including Australia, Britain and Canada.

Codenamed STATEROOM, the program involves the interception of radio, telecommunications and internet traffic.

The document explicitly states that the Australian Defence Signals Directorate operates STATEROOM facilities “at Australian diplomatic facilities”.

The document notes that the surveillance facilities “are small in size and in number of personnel staffing them”.

“They are covert, and their true mission is not known by the majority of the diplomatic staff at the facility where they are assigned,” the document says.

The National Security Agency document also observed the facilities were carefully concealed: “For example antennas are sometimes hidden in false architectural features or roof maintenance sheds.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade declined to comment on the potential diplomatic implications of the disclosure. A departmental spokesperson said: “It is the long-standing practice of Australian governments not to comment on intelligence matters.”

The leaked NSA document does not identify the location of specific Defence Signals Directorate facilities overseas.

However, a former Australian Defence Intelligence officer has told Fairfax Media the directorate conducts surveillance operations from Australian embassies across Asia and the Pacific.

The former intelligence officer said the interception facility at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta played an important role in collecting intelligence on terrorist threats and people-smuggling, “but the main focus is political, diplomatic and economic intelligence”.

“The huge growth of mobile phone networks has been a great boon and Jakarta’s political elite are a loquacious bunch; even when they think their own intelligence services are listening they just keep talking,” the source said.

He said the Australian Consulate in Denpasar, Bali, has also been used for signals intelligence collection.

In June the East Timorese government complained publicly about Australian spying, including communications interception and bugging government offices during negotiations on the future of the Timor Gap oil and gas reserves.

Intelligence leaks to the media in the 1980s disclosed installation of ”extraordinarily sophisticated” intercept equipment in Australia’s High Commission in Port Moresby and in the Australian embassies in Jakarta and Bangkok.

Further leaks of top secret Defence Intelligence reports on Indonesia and East Timor in 1999 also indicated that Australia intelligence has extensive access to sensitive Indonesian military and civilian communications.

Intelligence expert Des Ball said the Defence Signals Directorate had long co-operated with the US in monitoring the Asia-Pacific region, including using listening posts in embassies and consulates.

“Knowing what our neighbours are really thinking is important for all sorts of diplomatic and trade negotiations,” Professor Ball told Fairfax Media.

October 31, 2013
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Philip Dorling

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Australia Said to Play Part in N.S.A. Effort

BEIJING — Australia, a close ally of the United States, has used its embassies in Asia to collect intelligence as part of the National Security Agency’s global surveillance efforts, according to a document leaked by the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden and published this week in the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry reacted angrily on Thursday to the assertions in the document, which also said that the American Embassy in Beijing and consulates in Shanghai and Chengdu operated special intelligence gathering facilities, and it demanded an explanation from the United States.

“We demand that foreign entities and personnel in China strictly abide by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and other international treaties, and they must not, in any form, engage in activities that are incompatible with their position and status and that are harmful to China’s national security and interest,” Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the ministry, said at a daily briefing for reporters.

Australia is one of the so-called Five Eyes countries that share highly classified intelligence and agree not to spy on one another; the other four are the United States, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.

The report by Der Spiegel and a report in The Sydney Morning Herald said that the intelligence collection program was conducted from Australian Embassies in China, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and East Timor, and the country’s high commissions — the equivalent of embassies among Commonwealth countries — in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

The N.S.A. program was called Stateroom, and was operated by the Australian Defense Signals Directorate, Der Spiegel quoted the N.S.A. document as saying.

A former Australian official with knowledge of Australia’s relationship with the United States said that Australia took part in the intelligence gathering to further its own national interests as well as to contribute to its alliance with Washington. The Australian intelligence operations had been going on in various forms for 20 to 30 years, the former official said.

Australia has long felt a need to gather information in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, which lies just to the north of Australia, the former official said. The country’s volatile politics and security problems were of the highest priority to Australia for many years, and more recently the rise in the smuggling of people to Australia from there had increased the need, the former official said.

“This was done not as a favor to the United States,” said the former official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the matter. “It was more cooperative than at the U.S.’s request.”

Describing the surveillance operations at the Australian facilities, the N.S.A. document quoted by Der Spiegel said they were “small in size and in number of personnel staffing them.” The document added, “They are covert, and their true mission is not known by the majority of the diplomatic staff at the facility where they are assigned.”

An email to the Australian agency assigned to answer questions about the program, the Attorney General’s Department in Canberra, was not immediately answered.

The reports were an embarrassment to the new conservative government in Australia, especially regarding the Australian Embassy in Beijing. The buoyant Australian economy depends on China’s appetite for Australian iron ore, and Prime Minister Tony Abbott said this month that he wanted to complete a free-trade agreement with China within a year.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Ms. Hua, alluded to the relationship in her comments on Thursday. China and Australia had a consensus to increase cooperation, she said, and “we hope and expect that Australia can work hard with China in this regard.”

The New York Times
October 31, 2013
By JANE PERLEZ

Find this story at 31 October 2013

© 2013 The New York Times Company

Revealed: How Australia spies on its neighbours

Australia’s electronic spy agency is using the nation’s embassies to intercept phone calls and internet data in neighbouring countries, according to new information disclosed by intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden and a former Australian intelligence officer.

The secret Defence Signals Directorate operates clandestine surveillance facilities at embassies without the knowledge of most Australian diplomats.

Fairfax Media has been told that signals intelligence collection occurs from Australian embassies in Jakarta, Bangkok, Hanoi, Beijing and Dili, the high commissions in Kuala Lumpur and Port Moresby and other diplomatic posts.

A secret US National Security Agency document leaked by Mr Snowden and published by Germany’s Der Speigel magazine reveals a highly sensitive signals intelligence collection program conducted from US embassies and consulates and from the diplomatic missions of other “Five Eyes” intelligence partners, including Australia, Britain and Canada.

Codenamed STATEROOM, the collection program involves interception of radio, telecommunications and internet traffic.

The document says the DSD operates STATEROOM facilities at Australian diplomatic posts. It says the surveillance facilities are “small in size and in number of personnel staffing them”.

“They are covert, and their true mission is not known by the majority of the diplomatic staff at the facility where they are assigned,” it says.

The document says the DSD facilities are carefully concealed. “For example, antennas are sometimes hidden in false architectural features or roof maintenance sheds.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade declined to comment on the potential diplomatic implications of the disclosure. A spokesperson said: “It is the long-standing practice of Australian governments not to comment on intelligence matters.”

The leaked NSA document does not identify the location of the DSD facilities overseas. However, a former Australian defence intelligence officer told Fairfax Media that the directorate conducted surveillance from Australian embassies across Asia and the Pacific.

In June, the East Timorese government complained publicly about Australian spying, including communications interception and the bugging of government offices during negotiations on the Timor Gap oil and gas reserves.

The former intelligence officer said the interception facility at the Australian embassy in Jakarta played an important role in collecting intelligence on terrorist threats and people smuggling, “but the main focus is political, diplomatic and economic intelligence”.

“The huge growth of mobile phone networks has been a great boon and Jakarta’s political elite are a loquacious bunch. Even when they think their own intelligence services are listening they just keep talking,” he said.

He said the Australian consulate in Denpasar, Bali, had also been used for intelligence collection.

Intelligence expert Des Ball said the DSD had long co-operated with the US in monitoring the Asia-Pacific region, including using listening posts in Australian embassies and consulates.

“Knowing what our neighbours are really thinking is important for all sorts of diplomatic and trade negotiations,” Professor Ball told Fairfax Media.

“It’s also necessary to map the whole of the telecommunications infrastructure in any area where we might one day have to conduct military operations so that we can make most use of our cyber warfare capabilities, however remote those contingencies might be, because you can’t get that knowledge and build those capabilities once a conflict starts.”

Meanwhile, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa has demanded an explanation of news that the US embassy in Jakarta has been used to tap the phones of Indonesian officials.

“Indonesia cannot accept and strongly protests the news about the existence of tapping facilities at the US embassy in Jakarta,” Mr Natalegawa said.

”We have spoken to the US embassy representative in Jakarta demanding an official explanation from the US government about the news. If it’s confirmed, then it’s not only a breach of security, but a serious breach of diplomatic norms and ethics, and of course it’s not in line with the spirit of having a good relationship between the two countries.”

The Age
Date: October 31 2013
Philip Dorling

Find this story at 31 October 2013

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Fairfax Media

Malaysia protests at ‘US and Australia spying’ in Asia

Malaysia has protested at the alleged spying, saying “such activities are not done among close friends”
Continue reading the main story

The Malaysian government has summoned the heads of the US and Australian diplomatic missions in Kuala Lumpur over a row about an alleged American-led spying network in Asia.

The Malaysian foreign ministry said the reports of spying could “severely damage” relations.

It said a protest note was handed over.

China and Indonesia have already protested at the claims that Australian embassies were being used to monitor phones and collect data for the US.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said “such activities are not done amongst close friends”.

Mr Anifah said his Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop, replied that it was not her government’s policy to comment on intelligence matters, but she accepted Malaysia’s concerns.

The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) has reported that Australian diplomatic posts in Asia were being used to intercept phone calls and data.

The reports were based on a US National Security Agency document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has declined to comment on the reports.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said: “Every Australian governmental agency, every Australian official… operates in accordance with the law.”

Find this story at 2 November 2013

BBC © 2013 The BBC

Canada’s electronic watchers enjoy secrecy second to none

Unlike in Britain and the United States, Parliament is not involved in holding Canada’s intelligence gathering agency to account.

Creepy truth: American spies with access to everyone’s data do occasionally succumb to the urge to snoop illegally through their love lives, peering into the private communications of former paramours.
Creepier truth: if you’re Canadian, you have no way of knowing whether one of your own spies does it to you.
Hypothetically, they don’t. Legally, they can’t. But that’s the problem, say critics of the fast-growing Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), the Ottawa agency that scours global telephone logs, email and Internet trails for worrisome patterns — with CSEC it’s all hypothetical because Canada’s electronic watchers enjoy a secrecy second to none.
Nearly six months after former computer specialist Edward Snowden began tearing back the curtain on America’s National Security Agency with a series of stunning disclosures about the true extent of U.S. mass surveillance, Canada’s CSEC remains a silent bystander.
Apart from a single report by journalist Glenn Greenwald accusing CSEC of eavesdropping on Brazil’s mining and energy ministry, Canada’s electronic spies have thus far escaped the brunt of Snowden’s cascading disclosures.
That’s good, right? Sure it is. But it also leaves Canadians, including Parliament, almost completely in the dark on what the underscrutinized CSEC actually does, even as outraged Americans and Britons shine a bright light on — and mobilize to change — the ways their own governments consume private data.
“Canadians who think they are in the clear on these ongoing scandals need to grasp that we are the ones who need the debate the most,” said Ron Deibert, director of the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab.
“The Canadian checks and balances just aren’t there. We have no parliamentary oversight of CSEC, no adequate independent entity to watch the watchers and act as a constraint on misbehaviour. It just doesn’t exist now.
“It’s not a question of people shrugging and saying, ‘Well, I’ve got nothing to hide.’ The real problem is oversight — and the potential for abuse if left unchecked.”
It’s an idea that even CSEC’s former chief, John Adams, concedes would be helpful.
Adams doesn’t think “oversight” is realistic, but supports the robust “review” of CSEC’s activities and sees the value in having a committee of security-cleared parliamentarians “fully briefed on what CSEC is doing.
“It would be an opportunity for them to provide feedback and observations and raise concerns perhaps about what CSEC is doing and CSEC could also use that forum as an opportunity to talk about what they might be doing or consider doing or to bounce off of them some thoughts,” said Adams.
“It would be an opportunity for (Parliament) to have some public debate but it would be a limited public debate because they’d have to be sworn to secrecy.”
This review does exist in the United States, though many argue the checks and balances have been abused and subverted in light of Snowden’s NSA disclosures.
Yet in the U.S., as the scandal grew, so too did Congressional scrutiny, with American politicians like Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon leading the pushback against secrecy.
A case in point came in August, when the leak of a top-secret document revealed the NSA broke privacy rules and overstepped its legal authority thousands of times a year after 2008, when the agency was granted broad new powers by Congress.
Most of the violations were “unintentional,” but that sparked congressional queries for details on cases involving wilful misconduct by NSA spies. As pressure mounted, the NSA took the extraordinary measure of a public statement, acknowledging that a handful of its officers had used the agency’s enormous eavesdropping power to spy on romantic interests.
Those instances, though rare, were common enough to warrant their own spycraft label — LOVEINT, or “love intelligence.” Most of the officials involved resigned, were dismissed or were demoted to a lower pay grade with limited security clearance, the agency said.
But that’s only one piece of a much broader debate taking place in Washington, as two competing pieces of legislation emerge with the intent to rein back NSA powers and place congressional checks and balances on a stronger footing. An important element of that debate is whether America’s massive metadata effort — the gathering up of the entire haystack of phone and Internet communications — is worth the cost.
These questions are hardly ever asked north of the border, even though Canada is a partner in the so-called Five Eyes, sharing intelligence-gathering chores alongside the U.S., Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
Little is known of what that entails, precisely, although the Globe and Mail penetrated one layer of the CSEC bubble in June. The newspaper disclosed that a secret Canadian metadata surveillance program first launched in 2005 under then-prime minister Paul Martin was frozen amid privacy concerns, only to be reinstated in 2011 under new rules.
Hundreds of pages of records on the program, obtained through Access to Information requests, came back with large passages blacked out on grounds of national security, the Globe reported.
The lone watchdog agency overseeing CSEC, the Office of the CSE Commissioner, has given its blessing to the metadata program. But critics say the office and its staff of eight, which until recently received its funding directly from the Department of National Defence, as does CSEC, remains too close to Canada’s security establishment to effectively safeguard privacy concerns.
Once a year CSEC’s watchdog reports to Canadians. But far more often, it reports secretly to the defence minister with recommendations for adjustments in how CSEC conducts its business. In his most recent public report, released in August, outgoing commissioner Robert Decary ended his three-year term proclaiming that all activities complied with Canadian law with the exception of “a small number of records (which) suggested the possibility that some activities may have been directed at Canadians, contrary to the law . . . I was unable to reach a definitive conclusion.”
Decary, in a final assessment of his time as CSEC watchdog, wrote that he saw little value in a confrontational relationship. “With my years of experience, I see the office more CSEC’s conscience than as a sword of Damocles,” he wrote.
But even Decary nudged Canada’s spymasters toward greater openness, writing that “I believe that the ice has been broken and that the security and intelligence agencies understand they can speak more openly about their work without betraying state secrets or compromising national security.
“The greater the transparency, the less skeptical and cynical the public will be.”
University of Ottawa scholar Wesley Wark, who specializes in national security and the history of intelligence agencies, says the CSEC watchdog is simply not enough.
Unlike Britain and the United States, Canadian oversight leaves a “gaping hole . . . a big gap” because Parliament is not involved in holding intelligence agencies to account as Adams suggested, Wark told The Star.
The issue has simmered for years, said Wark, with failed attempts, most recently in 2005, to create a British-style Committee of Parliamentarians on National Security.
But oversight actually grew worse in 2011, said Wark, when CSEC was deemed an independent agency within the Department of National Defence, effectively eliminating a requirement to report to the national security adviser and Privy Council office. “It took that away entirely,” said Wark, “and put it all within (DND), where it’s very easy for CSEC to disappear down its secret hole.
“There’s a question about who is really in charge and who’s deciding to apportion CSEC resources in terms of current operations,” he said.
Among the key questions Wark says remain unanswered is how much bang CSEC gets for its buck. And whether, in Canada’s haste to satisfy the obligations of its Five Eyes commitments, we sell Canadian interests short.
Deibert, who this year published Black Code: Inside the Battle for Cyberspace, argues that while parliamentary oversight remains an admirable goal, the evolving issue of privacy-versus-surveillance warrants something more ambitious.
“I would go further: There needs to be somebody who is not part of Ottawa culture, who is adversarial, something with the authority and credibility of the Privacy Commission’s office,” said Deibert.
“Parliamentary oversight is necessary. But you also need oversight that doesn’t depend on favours or look through the lens of partisan politics.
“I just don’t think, as a society, Canada has caught up with the epochal scope of what has changed in the last 10 years. We’ve gone through the most profound transformation in how we communicate. Mobile and broadband technologies have turned us inside out — and at the same time these Cold War agencies are now turning their gaze inwards on us.
“It’s no longer spy-versus-spy and concern over foreign states with nuclear weapons. Now it’s about somebody blowing themselves up in a shopping mall. And so the threat model has turned toward all of society.”
Canada’s security agencies cannot do their jobs in total transparency, of course. Some degree of secrecy is crucial. But that is no hindrance, if a committee of Parliament were to be vetted and cleared — a commonplace practice in other jurisdictions — and thus able to absorb firsthand the full heft of CSEC activities.
But if CSEC’s critics and former bosses agree on at least some increased scrutiny, Adams doesn’t buy into all the Snowden hype. He shrugs, for example, at the furor that followed October’s disclosure of U.S. eavesdropping on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone.
“Every leader in the world knows that people would love to know what they’re thinking, where they’re heading . . . anyone who doesn’t think that is happening is in never-never land,” Adams said.
“It’s not illegal but it’s embarrassing. There are 12 rules and 11 of them are, ‘Don’t get caught.’ ”

By: Mitch Potter Washington Bureau, Michelle Shephard National Security
Reporter, Published on Sat Nov 09 2013

Find this story at 9 November 2013

© Copyright Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. 1996-2013

Canadian embassies eavesdrop, leak says

A new leak suggests that Canada is using some of its embassies abroad for electronic-eavesdropping operations that work in concert with similar U.S. programs.

A U.S. National Security Agency document about a signals intelligence (SigInt) program codenamed “Stateroom” was published this week by Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine. The document, a guide to the program, was among material obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

“STATEROOM sites are covert SIGINT collection sites located in diplomatic facilities abroad,” the leaked document says. “SIGINT agencies hosting such sites include … Communication Security Establishments [sic] or CSE (at Canadian diplomatic facilities).”

The leaked document does not give the locations of the alleged listening posts. It says that, in general, such surveillance equipment is often concealed “in false architectural features or roof maintenance sheds” atop embassies. “Their true mission is not known by the majority of diplomatic staff at the facility,” it adds

A Parliamentarian who on Tuesday introduced a motion to increase scrutiny of federal intelligence agencies said the document shows Canadians do not know enough about the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC).

“We really don’t know what they’re up to,” said Jack Harris, the NDP’s long-serving defence critic. “… We’re dealing with the secret work of spies and intelligence and whether what is being done is what ought to be done.”

Government representatives at CSEC and Foreign Affairs declined to comment directly on the leak. A spokeswoman for Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, who gives CSEC its direction, also declined to comment.

In 1995, former CSEC employee Mike Frost wrote in his memoir, Spyworld, that he set up “listening posts” at Canadian embassies. His book says CSEC signals intelligence technicians during the Cold War were funded and mentored by NSA counterparts who taught them how to conceal a piece of spy machinery inside what appeared to be an office safe.

One 1972 caper recounted in the book involved agents cutting a five-foot satellite dish into 12 wedges and smuggling the equipment into Moscow before reassembling it in the attic of the Canadian embassy there. Reports were then passed back to Canada in diplomatic bags, according to the book. It was a standard courtesy for CSEC to turn off its listening gear in Moscow when important British or U.S. allies visited, according to Spyworld.

Newly leaked material indicates that close partnerships still exist among the so-called “Five Eyes” – the alliance of intelligence agencies from English-speaking countries that agree not to spy on each other while collecting intelligence on just about everybody else.

The Five Eyes agencies may have teamed up to spy on BlackBerrys belonging to foreign diplomats at a 2009 meeting of the G20 in London, according to a previously published leak from Mr. Snowden, who now lives in Moscow as the United States seeks to arrest him on espionage charges.

According to the Stateroom document, Britain, Canada, the United States and Australia still run interrelated surveillance operations from their embassies. (New Zealand, the fifth “eye,” is not mentioned.)

“It’s not surprising, but it is certainly significant that it is disclosed,” said Wesley Wark, a Canadian professor who specializes in intelligence matters. “… There is still great value in having close access to telecommunications around the world, particularly if you are interested in cellphone communications.”

Mr. Wark’s point about “close” spying contrasts with a more far-reaching 21st century surveillance methodology highlighted earlier this month.

A leaked 2012 presentation showed that CSEC officers analyzed communications flow around Brazil’s energy ministry. This suggests CSEC has access to vast databases of previously logged global telecommunications traffic – giving the agency a very far reach in determining which telephones and computer servers in the world might yield the most intelligence for Canada.

COLIN FREEZE
The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Oct. 29 2013, 11:59 AM EDT
Last updated Tuesday, Oct. 29 2013, 9:54 PM EDT

Find this story at 29 October 2013

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