Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


NSA Spying Undermines Obama's Call for Foreign Business

NSA Spying Undermines Obama's Call for Foreign Firms to Do Business Here

by Sherwood Ross
October 31, 2013

When America's prestige abroad is in the gutter over National Security Agency's eavesdropping on world leaders, President Obama incongruously is urging foreign companies to do business here in the United States. Could his timing be worse?

Polls show his prestige at home is at an all-time low, so can you imagine the depths to which it has plummeted as foreign heads of state are howling over NSA's criminal spying on them? Some must know this is nothing new, that America has been spying on them for years through NSA's ECHELON system, in part to steal lucrative business contracts, and now Mr. Obama is asking for their business?

Two days ago, McClatchy News Service reported, "the storm battering Obama over the revelations of U.S. data-gathering and communications monitoring in France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Mexico and Brazil showed no sign of abating." NSA is charged with tapping the telephone conversations of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and 34 other world leaders, as well as millions of Europeans.

President Obama is contending he was in the dark about NSA's activities (pu-leeze!). The feisty McClatchy reporters say U.S. intelligence officials "pushed back…against assertions that Obama and his aides were unaware of the high-level eavesdropping" and are angry "believing the president has cast them adrift as he tries to distance himself from the disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that have strained ties with allies."

Spain became the latest U.S. ally to demand an explanation for the spying after a Spanish newspaper broke the story that NSA monitored more than 60 million phone calls in that country in a single month! German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said she believed "the Americans were using the information to gather economic intelligence" quite apart from "terrorism," McClatchy said.

Germany has been spied on by NSA since 2002, published reports say, but U.S. spying pre-dates that---in part to gain illegal business advantages.

President Obama may deny knowledge of current NSA spying but he can’t claim he doesn’t know the U.S. is the lead partner in ECHELON, which, according to Washington journalist Bill Blum, is a “network of massive, highly automated interception stations” that is eavesdropping on the entire world, and has been doing so since the 1970s.

“Like a mammoth vacuum cleaner in the sky, the National Security Agency (NSA) sucks it all up: home phone, office phone, cellular phone, email, fax, telex…satellite transmissions, fiber-optic communications traffic, microwave links, voice, text images (that are) captured by satellites continuously orbiting the earth and then processed by high-powered computers,” Blum writes in his book “Rogue State” (Common Courage Press) published in 2005, eight years before the Snowden revelations.

Calling it the greatest invasion of privacy ever, Blum says the ceaseless, illegal spy system sucks up perhaps billions of messages daily, including those of prime ministers, the Secretary-General of the UN, the pope, embassies, Amnesty International, Christian Aid, and transnational corporations and that “if God has a phone, it’s being monitored.”

Blum also said that during the countdown to its invasion of Iraq in 2003, the U.S. listened in on the conversations of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, “and all the members of the UN Security Council…when they were deliberating about what action to take in Iraq.”

ECHELON has also been used to give U.S. firms inside information on their competitors, so that, for example, they could underbid their rivals for contracts. America's partners in this snooping scheme include UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. As it dates back two decades before the War on Terror, it likely had little or nothing to do with American security and everything to do with making money illegally.

Now, will all the people who think the U.S. is the indispensable and exceptional nation out to spread democracy around the world please raise their hands?


Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based public relations consult who publicizes books and worthy causes. He is an award-winning journalist, award-winning poet, and award-winning runner.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On The Addiction To Chinese Student Fees

Last week, Australian PM Scott Morrison extended its ban on foreign visitors from or passing through from mainland China – including Chinese students - for a third week. New Zealand has dutifully followed suit, with our travel ban ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Coronavirus, And The Iowa Debacle

As Bloomberg says, the coronavirus shutdown is creating the world’s biggest work-from-home experiment. On the upside, the mortality rate with the current outbreak is lower than with SARS in 2003, but (for a number of reasons) the economic impact this time ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Dodging A Bullet Over The Transport Cost Over-Runs

As New Zealand gears up to begin its $6.8 billion programme of large scale roading projects all around the country, we should be aware of this morning’s sobering headlines from New South Wales, where the cost overruns on major transport projects ... More>>

Gordon Campbell:On Kobemania, Palestine And The Infrastructure Package

Quick quiz to end the week. What deserves the more attention – the death of a US basketball legend, or the end of Palestinian hopes for an independent state? Both died this week, but only one was met with almost total indifference by the global community. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Double Standard That’s Bound To Dominate The Election

Are National really better political managers than Labour, particularly when it comes to running the economy? For many voters – and the business community in particular - their belief in National’s inherent competence is a simple act of faith. More>>

Gordon Campbell : On Dealing With Impeccable, Impeachable Lies

By now, the end game the Republican Senate majority has in mind in their setting of the rules for the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump is pretty clear to everyone: first deny the Democrats the ability to call witnesses and offer evidence, and then derisively dismiss the charges for lack of evidence. For his part, does former security adviser John Bolton really, really want to testify against his former boss? If there was any competing faction within the Republican Party, there might be some point for Bolton in doing so – but there isn’t. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Why The Dice Are Loaded Against Women..

If they enter public life, women can expect a type of intense (and contradictory) scrutiny that is rarely applied to their male counterparts... More>>


  • PublicAddress
  • Pundit
  • Kiwiblog