NSA: Foreign Leaders Often in the Dark About Spying Activities

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Glenn Greenwald publishes a fascinating little extract from an NSA document today. The unnamed author is explaining why cooperation with foreign countries doesn’t change much depending on which party wins national elections:

Are our foreign intelligence relationships usually insulated from short-term political ups and downs, or not?

(S//SI//REL) For a variety of reasons, our intelligence relationships are rarely disrupted by foreign political perturbations, international or domestic. First, we are helping our partners address critical intelligence shortfalls, just as they are assisting us. Second, in many of our foreign partners’ capitals, few senior officials outside of their defense-intelligence apparatuses are witting to any SIGINT connection to the U.S./NSA.

In other words, you might be the prime minister, but that doesn’t mean you have any idea what your intelligence apparatus is up to.

Now, this is worth taking with a grain of salt, since we don’t know who wrote this, or whether he really knew what he was talking about. I’ve been skeptical all along of the “shocked, shocked” reaction of many foreign leaders to the Snowden leaks, and I remain skeptical that they didn’t know at least the broad outlines of what the NSA and their own intelligence services were up to. Nonetheless, this provides a useful window into the NSA’s thinking: the less their political masters know, the better off they are.

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Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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