11 Shocking Things Snowden Has Taught Us (So Far)
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Following Snowden’s latest revelations, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs created a new office for handling “diplomatic activities involving cyber security.” Chinese diplomats said China has been the victim of US hacking many times before, and that the issue would be discussed as part of a US-China “strategic and security dialogue.” Despite concerns that the issue could derail any progress diffusing tension over cybersecurity issues, talks between the two countries were set to continue.
9) Fail-safe switch
Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who received Snowden’s first leak, told The Daily Beast that the rest of Snowden’s files have been disseminated around the world. If something unforeseen befalls Snowden, Greenwald reported, more information will inevitably be leaked.
Greenwald said that though the still-secret documents are encrypted, Snowden has made arrangements for the passwords to reach those with the files if he is unable to access them himself.
Greenwald also said Snowden gave him many more documents than those so far released and believes Snowden has even more on top of that. The documents are said to be stored on four laptops in Snowden’s possession. Greenwald said he does not wish to publish any details of the NSA’s surveillance systems that could foster or enable security breaches, nor does Snowden.
The fact that Snowden made multiple copies of the classified intelligence he carries created renewed angst among US officials. New questions were raised as to whether the US intelligence community can adequately stem the current leak and prevent future breaches from occurring.
10) NSA surveils Europe
German news magazine Der Spiegel revealed on June 29 it had seen part of a 2010 document, obtained by Snowden, showing that the NSA spied on European citizens and EU officials.
The document reportedly specifies Europeans as a “location target,” with Germans singled out as a major focus of US eavesdropping. The document also mentions telecommunications hacking — first reported by EU officials five years ago — of the EU Council of Ministers and the European Council at the Justus Lipsius Building in Brussels. Calls from an NSA-occupied building at the NATO headquarters outside of Brussells, according to the document, were traced to the Lipsius Building.
Europeans erupted in anger over the new allegations. German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said: “If the media reports are accurate, then this recalls the methods used by enemies during the Cold War.”
Grievences with the US surveillance program were particularly evident in Germany where, after a frank conversation between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Obama during his visit to Berlin earlier in the month, cybersecurity was a hot topic.
11) Dozens of embassies hacked
On July 1, The Guardian revealed a 2007 document that named 38 embassies and missions that were “targets” of US surveillance, including the EU embassy in Washington and its mission in New York.
It was unclear, according to The Guardian, whether those on the list were targets of the NSA only, or if agencies like the CIA and FBI were also watching them. The document described bugging fax machines with listening devices and listed the names of programs like “Wabash,” an operation directed at the French embassy in Washington.
The list of countries targeted was not limited to EU members or the traditional enemies of the United States, but instead includes the likes of India and Mexico, as well as Greece and Turkey. Gaining insider knowledge of diplomatic relations between the targeted states and the United States was the primary goal of the targeted surveillance, The Guardian reported.