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back to article United Nations to grill US over alleged NSA bugging of its HQ – report

The United Nations has said that it plans to contact the US over a report that the NSA had bugged its New York headquarters. Germany's Der Spiegel, citing secret documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, reported on Sunday that the US had "cracked the encryption" of the internal video conferencing system at the UN in …

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Anonymous Coward

There's a lot more to come. You can see why they wanted to get hold of him so quickly.

You can see why many in the US are so paranoid, living up in the hills with a big stock of munitions.

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Shame

Its a shame the UN aint trying to protect snowden. Shame germany aint protecting him either. Why does it fall to russia to save him?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Shame

I tend to hate grammar Nazis but that was painful to read.

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Re: Shame, well, maybe the UN and Germany aren't protecting Snowden (yet)

Because he went TO Russia with Love, and there is Putin on da Ritz?

Seriously, though, I wonder how this might have played in the 35-years sentencing of Manning. Is Manning's volcano seeming more akin to a baking soda experimental release?

The only way to undo Snowden's snowball or "Snowdenlanche" is to go back in time and state "You are being apprehended for whistleblowing/crimes you WILL commit."

The piercing of "inviolability" probably has been done by other governments, too, but as only Snowden's avalanche is under scrutiny (at least on this scale), then, for now, the USA will (unless this is all just political moaning for public consumption) probably have to gird up for economic blowback, as that may be deemed the only way to make a meaningful slap. Anything harder will just cascade into a global economic meltdown the world cannot withstand and will be loath to instigate.

OTOH, the USA may have snooped so much dirt on these other countries that they do not dare retaliate legally or economically as the USA could just trot out audio and video clips, and state "Say, do you recall the minutes of your meeting on 22 July, 2012, about 1500 hours, between the Secretary and the debriefed 'diplomats' discussing your cooperation with us, the USA? Imagine your domestic backlash if that were to somehow get out...."

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Black Helicopters

"why many in the US are so paranoid"

We're not paranoid, we're right.

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Re: Shame

The US only cares about the UN when it agrees with what they would do anyway regardless.

Otherwise they just ignore it. (Same with the WTO and International Criminal Court everything).

That is why I find China so amusing right now.

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Re: Shame

>That is why I find China so amusing right now.

Right because China respect human rights and the UN so much more. The US sucks but so do most other countries in this regard. International law is unfortunately still the law of the gun. This is the reason why the International Criminal Court only prosecutes brown people from Africa.

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FAIL

Re: asdf Re: Shame

".....This is the reason why the International Criminal Court only prosecutes brown people from Africa." Yeah, all those brown guys from the African republic of Yugoslavia, right?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Criminal_Tribunal_for_the_former_Yugoslavia

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Mushroom

Re: Shame, well, maybe the UN and Germany aren't protecting Snowden (yet)

I guess starting World War N by attacking Syria might deflect attention...

(I'd put the joke icon, but I'm too scared of being right...)

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Re: asdf Shame

>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Criminal_Tribunal_for_the_former_Yugoslavia

That is not the ICC is it?

"...In particular, the ICC has been criticized for targeting only people from Africa; to date, all of the ICC's cases are from African countries"

If I was a euro I wouldn't be bringing up the Serb issue. It was Euro peace keepers that stood by and watched the slaughter. Justice only came much later when the Serbs wanted something from the EU and gave up the butcherers themselves.

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Stop

Re: asdf Shame

"....That is not the ICC is it?...." It is a special example of the ICC to deal with a specific war, so yes it is.

"....It was Euro peace keepers that stood by and watched the slaughter....." Their hands were tied due to insufficient numbers and a brief that left them no options, mainly because the EU was waiting on the UN. it was only when the UN delivered another epic failure that NATO stepped in. It was a measure of how serious NATO took the matter that their subsequent deployment included the first use of German troops in a combat role outside of Germany since WW2.

".....Justice only came much later when the Serbs wanted something from the EU and gave up the butcherers themselves." Many of the war criminals were arrested in the field or hunted down post-war by EU police. It was only the highest ranked war criminals that evaded capture until the Serbs finally handed them over.

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Megaphone

Re: asdf Shame

I agree with what you say but it still doesn't make international law valid except for the losers. Its noble the EU believe in human rights and justice for all (at least on paper but money corrupts them also) but the fact Dick Cheney is a free man means international law is about might makes right and money not justice. I guess at least the EU is trying but if you expect China to chose justice and making things right over its own self interests good luck with that.

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Facepalm

Re: asdf Re: asdf Shame

"....but the fact Dick Cheney is a free man...." Puh-lease, if there was any actual case against Cheney then don't you think the US Lefties would have brought one by now? They know the strength of lawfare, so the fact that Leftie people with plenty of money to waste in court haveen't even tried speaks volumes for the lack of case. Seriously, get over it.

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Anonymous Coward

Wasn't there an article/photo spread (last year maybe) of the evesdropper proof tent that the President takes with him? That they setup inside whatever building the President is staying in?

Makes you wonder if its to protect the President from foriegn agencies or being spied on by his own NSA.

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Facepalm

".....Makes you wonder if its to protect the President from foriegn agencies or being spied on by his own NSA." I would suggest it is to stop anyone bugging him, whether they be foreign powers, journalists, or even other US politicians. But nice try at pretending only the NSA bugs anyone (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covert_listening_device#Examples_of_use).

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Big Brother

Shows the danger of encrypted voice communications

So, the NSA has hacked voice encryption for conf calls in the un, and it also cracked al qaeda's encrypted leadership calls (which led to all the recent embassy shutdowns).

So I guess the lesson is to assume the NSA can penetrate your corporate leadership conf calls if they feel there iscsomething worth listening to.

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Facepalm

Re: Shows the danger of encrypted voice communications

"So I guess the lesson is to assume the NSA can penetrate your corporate leadership conf calls if they feel there iscsomething worth listening to."

"something worth listening to" covers a lot of stuff, you can make a lot of money from insider trading and blackmail.

Given that breadth of the NSA's surveillance, someone with access to that data could spread their trading activities around more easily so they don't attract the attention of the SEC too quickly. Hell even if the SEC did step in the perp and the authorities can play the national security card to get away with it no questions asked.

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Re: Shows the danger of encrypted voice communications

"and it also cracked al qaeda's encrypted leadership calls (which led to all the recent embassy shutdowns)."

Thereby telling A-Q that their security had been compromised and giving them plenty of time to setup a new crypto system. Did the USA learn nothing from ULTRA?

Epic fail. (then again A-Q may have known it was cracked and been feeding false intel, which makes getting the USA to close embassies a major win on the part of A-Q)

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FAIL

Re: Alan Brown Re: Shows the danger of encrypted voice communications

"....Thereby telling A-Q that their security had been compromised and giving them plenty of time to setup a new crypto system. Did the USA learn nothing from ULTRA?...." LOL, you are so desperate to see it as a failure, aren't you? Truly sad. In this case, the risks to not just the embassy staff but also the locals outweighed the revelations. I suppose you would rather dozens of people had died? Yeah, we know where the failure really is - it's between your ears.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Shows the danger of encrypted voice communications

Meanwhile, in Shanghai, the subway stations have gasoline/other sniffers that force most riders to comply, and the subways have toilets ON the platform, maybe 20 meters or more underground, whereas, in "world class city" San Francisco, any tourist or local exiting BART and MUNI at stations below ground will be greeted with a sign "Due to heightened security, all underground stations are closed indefinitely/until further notice", signs that have been up probably since 2001. (Is this the case in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, or other places? Does anyone know? If so, that could point up what I posit in the next paragraph...)

I think it has less to do with security than it does with money and lack of desire to pay those pricey union sanitation engineers. Or, it could be a way to deprive IV-injection drugs abusers of a place to shoot up and pass out with blood painting the ceiling.

Anyway, if AQ was testing and toying with the US Intel community, their winning coups is in making the US run around impeding travel of tourists and US nationals alike, plus putting many people on edge, wasting money, and other downstream effects.

Fortunately, so far, nothing appears to be going on.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Alan Brown Shows the danger of encrypted voice communications

Dear ElReg,

May I humbly request a small improvement to our already close to perfection hallowed forum? In addition to our existing "upvote" and "downvote" buttons, might we have a third "shoot in the head" button for especially 'tarded commentards? Of course it should be suitably discouraging to deploy, that it may deter frivolous and unconscionable acts of inappropriate retribution. Perhaps only active on comments to which the sum of downvotes minus upvotes has passed a suitable threshold; a baker's dozen seems fitting, then hindered further by several clicks and perhaps a capatcha or two. By this mechanism which I humbly propose, a 'tard amassing a certain volume of shots to the head in a set period could then receive some kind of helpful encouragement to buck up their ways. A debonair tall pointed hat icon decorating all their 'tardings (and alerting the wholesome commentarderate to avert their eyes) which could persist until the shots to the head have subsided, maybe?

Should our beloved greater churnalism soviet's upper bureau of polit deem shooting to the head to be rather gauche for an organ revered as this, then perhaps a "tomato pelting" or "fling a rubber" or some other metaphor could be found?

Yours sincerely,

Your humble servant,

A. Coward.

(No relation to Sir Noël Coward of which I'm aware)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Shows the danger of encrypted voice communications

"Due to heightened security, all underground stations are closed indefinitely/until further notice", signs that have been up probably since 2001. (Is this the case in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, or other places? Does anyone know? If so, that could point up what I posit in the next paragraph...)

LA? You just overdose on the "medical marijuana" fumes up there?

Neither of LA's underground stations has any kind of facilities whatsoever. In fact, it has only just occurred to the God like wisdom of LAMTA that if they fit turnstiles to their stations, someone might pay to use them.

There *have* been bizarre quasi-airline public baggage searches and photo ID checks inflicted on *everyone* boarding Greyhound *busses* though. Does that help your posit?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Shows the danger of encrypted voice communications

"and the authorities can play the national security card to get away with it no questions asked". Quite, still, fortunately some questions are asked. So many cards to play but never 52.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Shows the danger of encrypted voice communications

@dssf, you are talking about having a piss at the subways, or.

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Re: Shows the danger of encrypted voice communications

Oh, sorry bout that.

I meant "underground restrooms", not "underground stations", hehehe.

BTW, in the Hangangjin station last year, i saw old women (over 50 or so), with haunched backs, stunted stature/height cleaning the platform ventilation ducts. One was on top of the rolling scaffold, the other pushing. They removed each and every vent register, took them to the at-floor/recessed water spigots, and hand/towel washed each one. BART doesn't even do that for the fucking TRAINS' IN-CAR ventilation. Hell, I'm more worried about ambient airborne pathogens in the train due to unchecked filth, not about terrorists. But, it was humbling, seeing those old ladies work harder than most people under 40 not in construction trades.

And, old women clean the restrooms even when men are urinating at a wall-mounted urinal. It's ordinary, non-problematic there, in SK. In the USA, it's grounds for screaming sexual harassment and to summon the police and almost cause a riot, figuratively speaking.

BTW, in SK, due to the proximity of NK, and the bellicosity about tturning SK into a roiling sea of flames, SK train stations -- every single one I've been in (dozens out of the hundreds), there are fire and chemical escape hoods, fire extinguishers, live-action and animated videos, even state-of-the-art LCDs and TV screens.

Shanghai's stations were similarly endowed, except they have the leg up by having toilet rooms, one-person-per, if I saw one under renovation correctly. The beauty o fthat is that if one eats excessive spicy stuff, no need to battle-clamp one's sphinctre while dawdling or mummy-sacheting to a toilet 5 levels and 100 feet above via a combination of escalators and mezzanine-level staircases that equal 2 full floor heights, hahhaha. Of course, we're speaking about different cultural values. The feces on SF's streets (I have to dodge them DAILY) constitutes a greater environmental and psychological threat to social order than do terrists -- well, so long as the terrists are not actually stiring shit up...

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Re: Shows the danger of encrypted voice communications

Remember as well what we have seen with the revelations of the NSA passing information to the DEA. No reason to think they don't do exactly the same thing with other 3-letters like the SEC.

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Re: Shows the danger of encrypted voice communications

I've never had ANY problems with Chicago's CTA, but have indeed been boarded AND searched on Greyhound busses by the Illinois State Police. It was some VERY strange stuff to me.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Shows the danger of encrypted voice communications

"Anyway, if AQ was testing and toying with the US Intel community"

Perhaps you mean "intel" unless you refer to vendors of processors and other fine semiconductor devices?

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Move out?

Maybe the UN should move out of the US to somewhere more civilised like Switzerland.

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Re: Move out?

You obviously don't know read much in the news about Switzerland. There are probably more top level criminals, or at least their monies, here than anywhere else in the world.

Switzerland is absolutely amazing at "marketing" its own image, what goes on behind the scenes is a whole other ball game.

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Coat

Re: Move out?

You forgot the basic rule : keep your friends close, your enemies closer.

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Re: Move out?

So that's ideal then.

Anywhere with total law enforcement would presumably have no retired Nazis, drug lords and Phil Collins remaining at large

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Move out?

>Maybe the UN should move out of the US to somewhere more civilised like Switzerland.

I've been thinking exactly that for years too. The US seems the worst possible place you could base an organisation which is *supposed* to be neutral and impartial.

Carve out a Vaticanesque spot of neutral territory at the top of Ruggell, where Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Austria come together perhaps? Or set it somewhere totally and utterly uneventful like Palmerston North?

There must be a billion places more appropriate than where it is now.

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Re: Move out?

Switzerland might be a good idea, but perhaps they should pick something more "equatorial". A country in Africa, or South America comes to mind. Preferably land locked. This way they will have all the diplomats couped up in an air conditioned palace, where they would need to talk to each other as there would be nothing else to do.

I envision a nice enclave near Bolivia, or Paraguay. Generally a miserable place to be (no, I haven't been there). This way the graft grubbing members would get their just rewards. So, 70 years in one place is a bit much anyway. Time to move on.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Move out?

> There must be a billion places more appropriate than where it is now.

Land in North Korea is quite cheap at the moment. :-)

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Facepalm

Re: AC Re: Move out?

"....The US seems the worst possible place you could base an organisation which is *supposed* to be neutral and impartial....." There are two reasons the UN is based in New York. Firstly, it grew out of the League of Nations, a Septic construct supposed to strangle the power of the old European colonial powers. So ironic when you consider most Yanks now view it as constraining their power. Secondly, the USA has always been the largest financial contributor to the UN, and always the largest military contributor for peacekeeping. That is really ironic considering the lack of thanks the US usually gets.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Move out?

Franklin D. Roosevelt first coined the term 'United Nations' (Wikpedia). I would rather like the US to cooperate respect and understand that there are countries outside the USA. Everything USA is not Sarah Palin, I hope.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AC Move out?

"the lack of thanks the US usually gets". Peacekeeping. The Irak war, lots of thanks within the USA?. The war in Korea was "run" by the UN. The war in Irak, had there been any weapons of mass destructions, could have been run (also with French fries) by the UN. And now the US is asking the UN to help them out of the mess they created by a fool of a president. Please.

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why the UN is based in New York

Matt, regarding your first reason, I’ll squander some of my limited irony supply in noting that despite President Wilson’s Fourteenth Point, the US never joined the League of Nations. (Also, the non-Septic Jan Smuts played a significant rôle in shaping the League.) The League was based in the Palais des Nations in Geneva; the UN still owns the Palais.

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FAIL

Re: AC Re: AC Move out?

".....The war in Korea...." Was started by the Communist North invading the South, which asked for UN help. It was inevitable that the US should run the UN action in Korea as not only was it the largest land, air and sea force in the alliance, they also had a local command structure in place. You might know this if you had actually bothered to research the history of the event.

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Facepalm

Re: Irony Deficient Re: why the UN is based in New York

"Matt, regarding your first reason, I’ll squander some of my limited irony supply in noting that despite President Wilson’s Fourteenth Point, the US never joined the League of Nations. (Also, the non-Septic Jan Smuts played a significant rôle in shaping the League.) The League was based in the Palais des Nations in Geneva; the UN still owns the Palais." All of which avoids the point it was Wilson's idea.

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Re: why the UN is based in New York

Matt, no, I did not avoid that; I stated that the League of Nations was the Fourteenth of Wilson’s Fourteen Points. Your point was that the League was a Septic construct supposed to strangle the power of the old European colonial powers, which somehow became a reason for the UN to be based in New York. May I ask how you see the US as having been able “to strangle the power of the old European colonial powers” via the League, given that the US was not a member of the League, and that even if the US had been a member, unanimous votes in the Council of the League were required to enact its resolutions? (The major European colonial powers were permanent members of the Council.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Move out?

Problem with Switzerland is it wasn't denazified after WW2...

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Boffin

Re: why the UN is based in New York

".....which somehow became a reason for the UN to be based in New York....." The US had seen the League of Nations fail in its role of preventing another war between the major powers, and Roosevelt started planning in 1939 for a replacement that would be based in the US so the US could have greater control over it. This was set in motion by the Atlantic Treaty in 1942, leading to the drafting of UN Charter in April 1945. The US decided the original League of Nations had failed because there was no central council to enforce action, hence the UN Security Council, a group of countries the US assumed would be allied to the US cause. The US plan was that the General Council would be the talking shop and the Security Council would be where the grown-ups made the actual decisions. In 1945 the UN SC members were the US, Great Britain and France (which the US assumed would play along given the debts they had to the US), China (then fighting Communist take-over and dependent on the US) and the USSR (assumed to be friendly to the anti-colonial aims of Charter). Not the first time US diplomats got all misty-eyed and didn't see the forest for the trees.

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Alert

Re: Move out?

They've been selling off military bunkers recently in Swissland, could be handy?

<a href="http://www.mount10.ch/english/index.php">Check this out for a bit of fun</a>

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Re: why the UN is based in New York

Matt, the entire world had seen the League of Nations fail to prevent a war between the major powers, which demonstrates that the power of the old European colonial powers was not strangled by the League. Indeed, you still have not explained the means through which the US could have used this “Septic construct” to strangle said colonial powers, whether through not joining the League or (in the hypothetical) as a member of the League. The League’s war deterrent was found in Article 10 of its Covenant, which essentially required a NATO-like defensive alliance between League members to come to the aid of any attacked member state; the unwillingness of major power League members such as the UK and France to come to the aid of attacked states like Ethiopia was what sealed the League’s fate. (Article 10 was what prevented US membership of the League; the US Senate viewed it as ceding the constitutional power of Congress to declare war to the League.)

The purposes of the UN Security Council and General Assembly, which you correctly identified, exactly duplicate the purposes of the League’s Council and Assembly respectively. The real innovation introduced by the US into the UN was US membership of the new organization, and the post-WWII abandonment of US isolationism in Eastern Hemisphere affairs.

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Boffin

Re: why the UN is based in New York

"Matt, the entire world had seen the League of Nations fail to prevent a war between the major powers, which demonstrates that the power of the old European colonial powers was not strangled by the League..." Wrong, all it demonstrated was that the concept - a venue where all nations could come as equals to discuss issues in a peaceful manner, with the majority imposing sanctions and solutions on those that failed to participate - didn't work because the larger nations only went along when it suited them. More problematic for Europe was that they initially saw Soviet interference as more of a problem than imperial wars, a point Wilson completely overlooked. The Italians thumbed their nose at the League when they invaded Abysinia (Ethiopia) and the other European powers backed off from imposing real sanctions. The Nazis saw It and promptly left the League, realizing that there was very little chance of the League standing up to them. The Yanks hadn't helped by refusing to sign the original Charter when they realises it would constrain their own building of a sphere of influence (an empire by any other name) in the Pacific and Latin America. What Wilson had originally intended as an instrument to stop European wars and also cripple the colonial empires by giving the Third World countries equal voice turned out to be a flop.

"...,you still have not explained the means through which the US could have used this “Septic construct” to strangle said colonial powers...." The intent was that giving the a third World countries equal voice and voting rights in the League meant that they could gang up and out-vote the Imperial powers.

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Re: why the UN is based in New York

Matt, no, it was not wrong: had the old colonial powers been strangled by the League, Italy would not have been able to conquer Ethiopia. The reason why Wilson “overlooked Soviet interference” was because in 1919 and 1920, when the League was being established, there wasn’t any: the Reds and Whites were still engaged in the bloody civil war following the 1917 revolution. In fact, at that time it was the Allied and Associated powers (UK, France, Italy, Serbia, Greece, Romania, Japan, Australia, Canada, US, along with Czechs, Poles, Estonians, and more) who sent expeditionary forces into Russia to support the Whites.

The problem that you noted with the League concept also applies to the UN concept — powerful nations still only go along with it when it suits them. Interventions of various sorts still happen nowadays even in the absence of authorizing Security Council resolutions.

Regarding your explanation of why the US didn’t join the League, take a closer look at Article 21 of its Covenant: Nothing in this Covenant shall be deemed to affect the validity of international engagements, such as treaties of arbitration or regional understandings like the Monroe doctrine, for securing the maintenance of peace. The US sphere of influence was recognized as a fait accompli, just as the European colonies in Africa and Asia were, to remain untouched by the League.

On your interpretation of the Septic intent of the League, the equal voting rights of the League applied only to the non-binding resolutions of the Assembly, just as the equal voting rights of the UN apply only to the non-binding resolutions of the General Assembly. All League members were not members of the Council, where the binding resolutions were made, and only the major powers had permanent seats in the Council — just like the five permanent seats in the Security Council, where the binding resolutions of the UN are made. The one significant difference between the Council and the Security Council is that any member of the Council, permanent or temporary, had veto power, due to its requirement for unanimity; in the Security Council, only the permanent members have veto power. The Council’s unanimity requirement meant that no imperial power in the League (including the US, had it joined) could have been outvoted. Therefore, I’ll ask again: how could the US have used the League of Nations to strangle the old European colonial powers?

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