We begin today’s collection of headlines from the worlds of spooks and “security” with European Edward Snowden blowback by way of SecurityWeek:
Germany to Beef Up Spy Defenses Against Allies: Report
Germany plans to beef up its counterintelligence tactics against allied countries in response to revelations of widespread US spying, Der Spiegel magazine reported Sunday.
The weekly said the German government was considering deploying its own agents to keep tabs on Western secret services and embassies on German soil including those of the United States and also Britain.
It said the domestic intelligence service aimed to glean precise information about foreign spies using diplomatic cover and technical equipment at diplomatic missions used to snoop on German officials and the country’s citizens.
“This step would be an about-face from the decades-long practice of systematically monitoring the activities of countries such as China, Russia and North Korea but rarely the activities of Western partners,” Spiegel said.
Here’s more in the form of a video report from Deutsche Welle in which Germany’s top counterspy — Hans-Georg Maaßen, president of the German Domestic Intelligence Service — has curious things to say:
German Response on NSA Spying Scandal
On the side of the pond, obfuscation, via The Hill:
NSA reform stalls in committee
- Legislation to rein in the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs has stalled in the House and Senate.
More than 130 House lawmakers in both parties have signed on as co-sponsors to legislation that would prevent the NSA from collecting bulk records about people’s phone calls. In the Senate, companion legislation has won 20 co-sponsors.
Both bills, however, have been stuck in their chambers’ respective Judiciary Committees since October, and committee aides say there are no plans to move them soon.
In the House, Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) seems to be waiting for the Obama administration to take a formal position on the USA Freedom Act, authored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), before scheduling a markup.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) wants to see what recommendations Attorney General Eric Holder and top intelligence leaders make by a March 28 deadline set by President Obama.
And from The Guardian, the latest Snowden revelation:
Australia spied on Indonesia talks with US law firm in 2013
- New Edward Snowden documents show ASD listened to Indonesian government talks and shared what they learned with US
- Australia and the US share access to bulk Indonesian telecommunications data, including those of Indonesian officials
- Australian spies have obtained 1.8 million encrypted master keys from an Indonesian telecommunications company and decrypted almost all
- US mentored Australia to break encryption codes of the PNG army
Australia spied on Indonesia and shared the information with the United States when the two countries were involved in a trade dispute in February 2013, a new document from whistleblower Edward Snowden shows.
Australia listened in on the communications of an unnamed American law firm which was representing Indonesia in the discussions and passed the information to the National Security Agency, according to a document obtained by the New York Times.
It is unclear what the discussions were about – but two trade disputes around that time were about the importation of clove cigarettes and shrimp, says the paper.
And the response from Down Under via Channel NewsAsia Singapore:
Australia says spying “for the benefit of our friends”
- Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Sunday his government used intelligence material “for the benefit of our friends” and “to uphold our values” following fresh reports it spied on Indonesia.
Abbott refused to confirm the report, also based on Snowden-leaked material, that the Australian Signals Directorate listened in on trade talks between the Indonesians and their US lawyers and offered information gleaned to the US National Security Agency.
“We never comment on operational intelligence matters, that has been the long-standing practice of all Australian governments of both political persuasions,” Abbott told reporters.
However, Abbott observed that Australia did not “use anything that we gather as part of our ordinary security and intelligence operations to the detriment of other countries.”
“We use it for the benefit of our friends. We use it to uphold our values,” he said.
More reaction from one of the targets, also via The Guardian:
Indonesia: Australia and US need to clean up their mess
- Presidential adviser responds to ‘perplexing revelation’ that ASD spied on a law firm representing Indonesia in a trade dispute
New documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal that the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) spied on an American law firm representing Indonesia in a trade dispute and offered the information to America, the New York Times reported on Sunday.
Indonesian presidential adviser and spokesman on foreign affairs, Teuku Faizasyah, said the president had been advised of the revelations by foreign minister Marty Natalegawa.
“Indeed, it is another perplexing revelation of spying toward Indonesia’s national interest,” he told Guardian Australia via text message.
“I wonder what more Snowden has in store? Therefore, it is the responsibility of countries (US & Australia) engaged in this complicity to clean up the mess, to salvage their bilateral relations with Indonesia.”
And the result, again from The Guardian:
Australia and Indonesia are now in ‘open conflict’, says Tanya Plibersek
- Dressing down of ambassador over ‘unacceptable’ border protection policies a matter of enormous concern
Australia and Indonesia were now in “open conflict” and repairing the “worsening” relationship was imperative, deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek said on Saturday.
After Australia’s ambassador to Jakarta Greg Moriarty was reportedly called into the country’s foreign affairs ministry for a “dressing down” over the Abbott government’s border protection policies, Plibersek said it was crucial the government acted now to settle the rocky relationship.
“It’s absolutely vital that Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop get on with repairing the relationship with Indonesia,” she said.
And to those other Asian border, militarism, and shifting alliance stories, first from South China Morning Post:
Top US envoy John Kerry fails to make headway over sea disputes in Beijing
- Only result of Beijing visit was a commitment to seek greater co-operation on climate change
US Secretary of State John Kerry ended a visit to China without any breakthroughs on two matters at the top of his agenda – sovereignty tensions in the East Sea and the South China Sea.
The only solid outcome of the trip came in a joint statement issued by the two governments yesterday that vowed closer co-operation on climate change.
Shi Yinhong , a professor of international relations at Renmin University, said: “Kerry’s China visit only provided an opportunity for both sides to make clear their differences on these issues.”
Jin Canrong, with the same university, said it was expected no consensus on regional issues would be reached during the trip. Instead, the visit was important for Beijing and Washington to prepare for an upcoming meeting between President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama at a nuclear security summit at The Hague late next month.
And another endorsement from the Pentagon for Japan’s newly aggressive militarism this time from Want China Times:
US-Japan amphibious joint exercises slated for 2014 Rim of Pacific
The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, the de facto army of Japan, will participate in amphibious joint exercises with the United States Marine Corps at the 2014 Rim of the Pacific off Hawaii between June and August, reports Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun.
This year’s joint naval exercise, the 24th since the US Marines began holding them bi-annually since 1971, will involve 20,000 soldiers, 30 vessels and 100 jets from more than 10 countries including China, Australia and South Korea.
While Japan has participated numerous times in the past, Tokyo has usually sent the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force to join in anti-pirate or disaster rescue exercises. Analysts believe the decision to send ground forces to participate in amphibious joint exercises with the US is aimed at developing combat techniques and gaining experience as Japan’s ground forces plan to develop a new amphibious force before 2018.
The amphibious force plans to be eventually eqipped with US-made Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, amphibious armored vehicles and large amphibious assault ships, but for now it will try and learn from US forces and gain valuable operational experience, Sankei Shimbuns said.
Yet another American endorsement from Kyodo News:
Japan eyes boosting ground troop communications with U.S. military
Japan plans to boost communications between its Ground Self-Defense Force and the U.S. military using smartphone-type terminals, a Japanese Defense Ministry source said Sunday.
The Japanese government will create prototype software from April with the aim of fully rolling it out in fiscal 2018, the source said.
The move is in line with efforts to more closely coordinate operations between the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and U.S. troops, at a time Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is keen to move forward discussions on allowing Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense, or coming to the defense of an ally such as the United States if it is attacked.
Want China Times covers Chinese anxiety:
Beijing slams US Navy official for ‘aiding Philippines’ remarks
China’s government on Friday slammed a US Navy official’s remarks concerning the South China Sea and asked the United States to keep its position neutral on territorial disputes between China and the Philippines.
Admiral Jonathan Greenert, commander of the US Navy, said on Thursday that his country will come to the aid of the Philippines in the event of any conflict with China over disputed waters in the South China Sea.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying responded to the remarks at a regular press briefing. She said China has repeatedly expressed its firm position on the disputes and will address the issue through discussions and negotiations directly with concerned parties.
As a bilateral arrangement, the US-Philippines alliance should not undermine the interests of third parties, Hua said.
And a demand from the China Post:
Kerry presses China to ease Internet controls
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday he urged Chinese leaders to support Internet freedom and promised to look into whether American companies help Beijing curb access to online material.
“Obviously, we think that Chinese economy will be stronger with greater freedom of the internet,” Kerry said at a meeting with bloggers following talks with Chinese leaders.
Kerry met earlier with President Xi Jinping and other senior officials to underscore the Obama administration’s commitment to refocusing U.S. foreign policy on the Asia-Pacific. He urged Beijing to convince neighboring North Korea to return to stalled nuclear disarmament talks.
During the 40-minute meeting Saturday, the bloggers appealed to Kerry to support Chinese human rights activists and freer use of the Internet.
After the jump, more on the ever-shifting Asian security crises [including rebukes, recriminations, and a meeting of old enemies], plus an Israeli deal to sell arms to Iran [really] an Icelandic leak probe, George Washington, spookfather, and cyber-stalking in the cereal aisle. . . Continue reading