The US ambassador to France has been summoned to the offices of his host government this Monday, as questions regarding the NSA’s snooping programs in the area begin to mount.
Following the release of more damning documents from the Guardian and Snowden camps, it’s become increasingly clear to representatives around the glove that the NSA has spent the past few years recording the movements and communications of millions of French citizens, as a part of one of the largest unwarranted cases of international surveillance in modern history.
The reports detailed over 70 million French phone calls that had been recorded over the period of a single month in 2012. Everything from gathering text messages based on keyword metadata, to automatically recording conversations of numbers designated to be “of interest”, the agency was explicitly allowed to do essentially whatever it wanted by the U.S government during its reign of completely unrestricted access into the homes and lives of foreign dignitaries.
Terrorists weren’t the only target either, with the Maryland based agency keeping tabs on a range of professionals in all areas of the French economy, including major conglomerates operating out of Paris and embassy representatives from other nations that were located within the city.
Prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has demanded “clear answers” on the program, codenamed US-985D, “justifying the reasons these practices were used and above all creating the conditions of transparency so these practices can be put to an end”.
So far, the official White House response has been the standard copy that all nations under their gun have gotten in the months since the Snowden leaks: “The US gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations”. Spokeswoman for the National Security Council Caitlin Hayden expanded on this point, stating that while the surveillance programs of the past had been rather sweeping in their breadth and width, in the “past several months” the agency had decided to take a hard look at how they do business while tapping the telegrams of other nation states.
“We’ve begun to review the way that we gather intelligence, so that we properly balance the legitimate security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share.”
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