US Intelligence Leaks Shed Light on Surveillance on Allies | News

April 12, 2023

The reported leaks of highly classified documents that have been trending online recently shed light on the extensive spying activities conducted by Washington on its allies and foes alike.


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The exposure of such activities has become increasingly common in recent years, and the latest leaks of documents have raised concerns from U.S.-friendly nations involved, while other allies are also conducting damage assessments to determine if their own sources and methods have been compromised.

Earlier this month, reports regarding batches of alleged U.S. intelligence documents that were uploaded on social media platforms such as Twitter and Telegram grabbed headlines.

According to U.S. officials, several of the documents are authentic and were believed to have been generated between mid-February and early March. They contain extensive top-secret data related to U.S.-friendly nations including Ukraine, South Korea, and Israel.

One leaked memo revealed the U.S. spying on one of its major Asian allies, South Korea, through signals intelligence, which involves electronic eavesdropping and communication interception, and the contents included discussions among South Korean officials about whether to provide weapons to Ukraine under the pressure from the United States.

Similarly, Israel, the most important U.S. ally in the Middle East, seems to have also been targeted under Washington’s surveillance network.

Amidst U.S. investigation into the leak, a “top secret” document reveals an alleged revolt by Israel’s top spy service against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed judicial overhaul, the Washington Post reported.

The document stated that according to signals intelligence, in February, senior leaders of the Mossad spy service urged officials and citizens to protest the reforms.

“If accurate, this is a dramatic change in the procedure by Mossad’s leadership and puts Israel in unprecedented territory,” Natan Sachs, an Israeli scholar at the Brookings Institution, was quoted by the Washington Post as saying.

The recent leak saga is just a glimpse of Washington’s long-standing indiscriminate surveillance of the world. The intelligence agencies, with an annual funding of US$90 billion, have sweeping powers to tap electronic communications, run spies and monitor with satellites.

In fact, the U.S. indiscriminate surveillance of the world is well-documented, earning it a notorious reputation as a surveillance empire with no regard for privacy or international law.

In May 2021, Denmark’s national broadcaster DR News reported that the Danish Defense Intelligence Service had given the National Security Agency (NSA) open Internet access to spy on senior politicians of neighboring countries, including then German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The NSA purposefully obtained data and thus was able to spy on targeted heads of state, as well as neighboring Scandinavian leaders, top politicians, and high-ranking officials in Germany, Sweden, Norway, and France, the report said, which caused global shock and fury.

French President Emmanuel Macron said in May 2021 that this “is unacceptable between allies, even less between allies and European partners,” and Merkel said she “could only agree” with Macron’s comments.

As early as 2013, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed that Washington had been spying on the email and cell phone communications of as many as 35 world leaders.

The recently leaked documents have been dubbed by Western media outlets as the “worst intelligence leak” since then. The leak has sparked another crisis of trust between the United States and its allies, complicating their relationships.

Opposition parties and lawmakers in South Korea are pressuring the government to demand an apology from Washington over allegations of wiretapping, which they claim violate South Korea’s sovereignty and damage bilateral trust. They are also calling for crystal-clear facts, and a promise to prevent recurrence from the United States.

Amid mounting domestic opposition and pressure, the office of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said in a statement on Tuesday that suspicions his office in Seoul were monitored are “utterly false.”

The disclosure of the alleged wiretapping came only a few weeks ahead of the upcoming summit between Yoon and U.S. President Joe Biden, scheduled for April 26. The Korean Times has reported that there are concerns that the leak could overshadow their meeting. 

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