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NSA: ‘full spectrum dominance’

Written By: - Date published: 9:39 am, October 28th, 2013 - 23 comments
Categories: accountability, capitalism, democracy under attack, internet, john key, national, slippery, Spying, telecommunications, uk politics, us politics, war - Tags:

Over the last week or so, further revelations of the extent of the NSA’s surveillance reach, in conjunction with at least one of its 5 Eyes’ partners (UK’s GCHQ) are breath taking in scope.  As Seumas Milne wrote last week in The Guardian, its

about global power, not protecting its citizens

The cumulative information leaked via Edward Snowden provides a picture of NSA-dominated international and intra-national surveillance in areas of armed conflict, aerial bombardment, politics and business.  This is looking like an updated version of the US government’s military-based, imperialistic strategy of “full spectrum dominance“.  The Wikipedia link explains this as a US military doctrine using “land,air, maritime, space, and cyber based assets“, and provides this definition of “full spectrum superiority”, quoted from a US Department of Defence dictionary,

The cumulative effect of dominance in the air, land, maritime, and space domains and information environment that permits the conduct of joint operations without effective opposition or prohibitive interference.[1]

What we are seeing with the extensive NSA-led surveillance is the extension of that kind of approach beyond the battlefield, into business and politics.

Back to the Seumas Milne article linked above.  He argues that the UK spying agencies have moved on from the seedy days of seedy counter-subversion operations of the past, with propaganda that now paints them as the “good guys”:

MI5 has well over doubled in size in the past 10 years. Glamorised beyond parody in TV dramas such as Spooks, the spying agencies’ uncheckable pronouncements about their exploits and supposed triumphs are routinely relayed by the media as fact. The same has been true in the US, but on a far larger canvas.

So faced with the avalanche of leaks from the National Security Agency and GCHQ about the epic scale of their blanket electronic surveillance, both at home and abroad, the masters of Anglo-American espionage have played the “national security” card for all it’s worth.

Milne argues that this propaganda, using counter-terrorism as a cover, masks the true agenda of,

the exercise of naked state power to gain political and economic advantage.

The extent of the surveillance, not only includes monitoring the private communications of relatively powerless citizens in countries like France, but the recording of phone calls, texts and emails of foreign heads of government in the likes of France, Germany, Brazil and Mexico.  But while the French government protests against such surveillance, it has also colluded with the US in its attempts to capture Snowden, and no doubt also in surveillance of its own citizens.

But it is the scale and reach of the NSA-GCHQ operation – and the effective global empire it is used to police – that sets it apart. And when it comes to terrorism, the evidence is that the US and British intelligence agencies are fuelling it as much as fighting it.

The use of cyber and surveillance capabilities within the military arena includes drone attacks, renditions, and land-based conflicts.  However, New Zealand’s role via the GCSB, now becoming linked with the SIS and criminal justice systems as indicated by the Dotcom saga, is most likely more connected with politics and business than with armed conflict.

This is indicated by the role that the GCSB played in testing out some of the NSA’s mass surveillance systems.  And this connects with the way NSA systems have been used to monitor communications of foreign heads of government and business entities.

The use of the NSA capabilities is indicated in the revelations of spying on Angela Merkle and the French President.  On Tuesday, the NZ Herald reported that, in relation to the French revelations, the use of specific phone numbers triggered the recording of conversations, as well as collecting text messages that used specified key words.

In Brazil, Snowden’s leaked data indicates,

 President Dilma Rousseff’s communications with aides were intercepted, the computer network of state-run oil company Petrobras was hacked,…

The latest revelations allegedly show that,

The United States has allegedly bugged German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone since 2002, German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday, citing a secret National Security Agency document from 2010.

The GCSB as part of the 5 Eyes network, draws NZ’s surveillance systems into US dominated cyber-surveillance systems.  Such systems are being used by the US and UK governments for economic and political power games.  This reinforces the need to continue to oppose the changes by the current NZ government to the NZ surveillance agencies furrther enable the US-UK power games.

This means a need for a review of the GCSB law and reversal of the most recent changes; and continued opposition to the Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security Bill (TICS) currently before parliament. According to an NBR article, as well as requiring Internet providers to spy on its customers’ communications it will “impose increased costs on the IT sector.

Tech Liberty NZ argues:

There is no evidence that the revelations about the extent of government spying in our intelligence allies, the USA and UK, have had any impact on the TICS Bill which is still mainly concerned about making sure that all electronic communications in New Zealand can be exposed to government scrutiny.

This indicates that the NZ government is colluding with the US agencies in its latest strategies for full political, economic and military “spectrum dominance”.  The last word in this post goes to Tech Liberty NZ:

We believe that changes in technology mean we need to rethink surveillance, search warrants and interception. We also fear that the cold war heritage of our security services unreasonably influences their thinking and their operations.

We support the idea of an inquiry into our intelligence services to ensure that what they do and how they do it are in the best interests of New Zealanders. We also support the idea that just because something is technically possible, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we should do it. There needs to be limits on surveillance to protect important rights, such as freedom of expression and freedom of association.





23 comments on “NSA: ‘full spectrum dominance’”

  1. Tat Loo (CV) 2

    Looks like Angela Merkel has been on a US surveillance target list for over 10 years, and that the White House under Obama re-approved surveillance on her. She’s not happy, to say the least. Funny how these leaders only get steamed up when they realise it’s not just their citizens who have been targeted, but themselves personally.

    As Glen Greenwald and others are pointing out, the old US line of we’re only doing this ‘to fight the terrorists’ is looking pretty weak – as it did from the start.

    • Populuxe1 2.1

      Mind you – look what happened the last time a German leader was left to their own devices lol. But seriously, it’s a bit hypocritical when Germany was a core part of the NSA spy network keeping tabs on other European leaders.

  2. Anne 3

    Funny how these leaders only get steamed up when they realise it’s not just their citizens who have been targeted, but themselves personally.

    My reaction too Tat. As someone on the receiving end of unjustifiable surveillance years ago, I find it deeply ironic when persons of stature discover they have been spied on. Suddenly it becomes a very serious matter.

  3. Draco T Bastard 4

    Such systems are being used by the US and UK governments for economic and political power games.

    The correct term is warfare.

  4. fender 7

    Bet the yanks have had trouble finding a translator to decipher the intercepted Key phone calls…

  5. JO 8

    Let’s think about ‘the Five Eyes Network’ a bit more. Surely no one at NSA suggested that a softer name would send people back to sleep with ‘Bright Eyes’ burbling in their docile brains. Did they?

    ‘Five Eyes’ is the UKUSA Agreement (1946), between the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and NZ. Slightly less cosy? Of course. That’s why this powerful NATO side-arm needed a silencer. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s tentacles circle the planet now like a nightmare’s Kraken.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UKUSA_Agreement (according to this, it wasn’t revealed to the public until the early 2000s. Peace groups knew of it in the 1980s.)

    ‘… Orwell would have recognised these as classic examples of disguising hard reality—giving sweeping powers of surveillance to the security services—behind soft words.’

  6. Tracey 9

    I wonder if key has called merkel and told her if she has nothing to hide she has nothing to fear.

  7. Lloyd 10

    If Merkel is really annoyed and really wants to wake the US up, all she has to do is offer Snowden full residency in Germany with guarantee of non-extradition for his whistle-blowing activities.

  8. Tracey 11

    Of course the usa will be sharing its spy info with its corporates “negotiating” the tppa.

    confidentiality clause makes it an even playing field according to wayne mapp but he surely hasnt factored in phone taps etc…

  9. Chooky 12

    +1…. very interesting post thanks Karol

  10. Papa Tuanuku 13

    Umm, National politicians saying they haven’t been spied on (as opposed to large powerful nations like Germany, Spain and France) look incredibly naive, dumb, and like seasoned bullshitters. Don’t you just feel you’re being majorly let down with Key saying exactly what the PMs of England and Aussie are saying?

    • Tat Loo (CV) 13.1

      It also happens that UK and Aussie are two countries which along with NZ are also part of the Five Eyes network. These are countries that are classed as highly privileged “first party” intelligence partners to the USA.

  11. Rogue Trooper 14

    Casablanca “My God, there’s gambling going on here!”

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