In an interview with the reactionary right-wing Fox News network, former Central Intelligence Agency director James Woolsey said U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden «should be prosecuted for treason. If convicted by a jury of his peers, he should be hanged by his neck until he is dead». Woolsey, a staunch neo-conservative, was fired as CIA director by President Bill Clinton in 1995. Clinton believed that Woolsey had not been aggressive enough in holding senior CIA officials accountable over the exposure of top CIA officer Aldrich Ames as a longtime agent for Soviet intelligence. Some CIA insiders believe that Woolsey thought that if the CIA engaged in a massive «mole hunt», other agents, particularly those loyal to Israel, a country with which Woolsey has a suspiciously close relationship, would be uncovered. Woolsey, of course, is the last person in the world whose opinion on Snowden’s fate should be given any credibility.
However, Snowden’s fate is being weighed at the highest levels of the U.S. government… Some within NSA believe that President Obama should offer Snowden amnesty if the self-exiled whistleblower agrees not to reveal any more NSA secrets. Most legal experts agree that such an amnesty would be questionable on legal grounds and that it may be a clever trap being dangled like a carrot to lure Snowden into a trap and a lifetime prison term, or, if Woolsey and his neocon friends have their way, on to an execution gurney and a lethal injection.
NSA supporters contend that Snowden did irreparable harm to U.S. and its allies’ national security by absconding with a reported 50,000 to 60,000 classified NSA documents. However, to date, not even two percent of the estimated total number of documents has been released to the media.
In 2006, another individual who was cleared for only a small portion of the surveillance operations of NSA and its «FIVE EYES» signals intelligence partners posthumously revealed classified information. However, in the case of this individual, David Lange, he was a former prime minister of one of the FIVE EYES countries, New Zealand and he had died in 2005.
On January 15, 2006, the Sunday Star Times of New Zealand reported that the archived papers of the late Prime Minister Lange included a 31-page TOP SECRET UMBRA HANDLE VIA COMINT CHANNELS ONLY New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) report on New Zealand's communications intercepts on behalf of the National Security Agency (NSA).
The intercepts were of targets in the South Pacific and Antarctica. GCSB maintained two major communications intercept stations at Waihopai and Tangimoana. Waihopai, which is codenamed IRONSAND, intercepts trans-Pacific foreign satellite communications. The 1985/86 GCSB Annual Report stated that among the targets of surveillance were UN diplomatic cables. The report also states that among GCSB's main tasks were translating and analyzing «most of the raw traffic used… (coming) from GCHQ/NSA sources».
GCHQ is Britain's Government Communications Headquarters, the agency tasked by NSA to conduct «surge» eavesdropping on UN Security Council delegations in the lead up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The NSA tasking memo was leaked by GCHQ analyst Katharine Gun to the British press. Criminal charges against Gun were later dropped.
Since the revelation of the UMBRA classification by a number of sources, NSA has dropped its use. It has been replaced with classifications such as «TOP SECRET/COMINT/NOFORN» and «TOP SECRET / COMINT/X1».
The New Zealand report also states that GCSB's tasking included «reporting on items of intelligence derived from South Pacific telex messages on satellite communications links». It added that reporting «was accelerated during the year… A total of 171 reports were published, covering the Solomons, Fiji, Tonga and international organisations operating in the Pacific. The raw traffic for this reporting provided by NSA the US National Security Agency)».
The report also revealed that 238 GCSB intelligence reports on intercepted Japanese diplomatic cables, using «raw traffic from GCHQ/NSA sources», was stymied by a new Japanese encryption system. «The Japanese government implementation of a new high grade cypher system seriously reduced the bureau's output», states the report. The GCSB «relied heavily on GCHQ acquisition and forwarding of French Pacific satellite intercept» for translation and analysis by GCSB. Chinese diplomatic traffic intercepted by NSA and GCHQ was also sent to GCSB for analysis and translation.
The report stated that Tangimoana targets in 1985 and 1986 were «French South Pacific civil, naval and military; French Antarctic civil; Vietnamese diplomatic; North Korean diplomatic; Egyptian diplomatic; Soviet merchant and scientific research shipping; Soviet Antarctic civil. Soviet fisheries; Argentine naval; Non-Soviet Antarctic civil (including Indian and Polish communications); East German diplomatic; Japanese diplomatic; Philippines diplomatic; South African Armed Forces; Laotian diplomatic [and] UN diplomatic». In addition, the New Zealand Tangimoana outstation intercepted 165,174 messages from its assigned targets, which represented «an increase of approximately 37,000 on the 84/85 figure». The report added, «Reporting on the Soviet target increased by 20% on the previous year».
GCSB was also responsible for eavesdropping on the communications of New Caledonia and French Polynesia (both French territories), Vanuatu, Kiribati, Nauru, and Tuvalu. Because Waihopai intercepted bulk Pacific Intelsat traffic, the communications of American Samoa (whose inhabitants are U.S. citizens) would have been available to NSA and other FIVE EYES But because of the NSA role as the operational leader of the FIVE EYES network, New Zealand, and to a similar extent, Australia, Britain, and Canada, do not have access to the intelligence NSA or receives from Waihopai / IRONSAND. The intelligence includes communications intercepts from Niue and the Cook Islands (New Zealand territories), Norfolk Island (Australian territory), and Samoa (Western Samoa).
Lange always believed that his own SIGINT agency, GCSB, on the orders of NSA and the Americans, were less than forthcoming with him on the extent of surveillance of communications in his country. His fears matched those of Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam who demanded the Americans tell him exactly the nature of its Australian bases, including the large facility in Alice Springs. Lange and Whitlam were both forced from office in «constitutional coups» having CIA and NSA fingerprints.
Lange’s GCSB document about spying is very similar to the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) document released by Snowden titled «Bude Sigint Development Reports». The GCHQ document outlines GCHQ/NSA intercepts from the GCHQ base at Bude, Cornwall, code named CARBOY, and the NSA’s TIMBERLINE base at Sugar Grove, West Virginia of the communications of Mohamed Ibn Chambas, an official of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); various corporations in Beijing; the NGO Doctors of the World (Medecins du Monde); the Geneva-based UNICEF and the UN Institute for Disarmament Research; the French companies Thales and Total; the German embassy in Rwanda; an Estonian Skype security team; a French ambassador; European Union anti-trust commissioner Joaquin Almunia; Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert; the Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem; Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, German ministries in Berlin, German communications links with Turkey and Georgia; and the UN Development Program (headed up by one of Lange’s Labor Party prime minister successors, Helen Clark).
Whether they are the 2006 disclosures from Lange or the 2013 revelations from Snowden, the leaked documents from the Anglo-American surveillance alliance only prove one thing: individuals large and small are eavesdropped upon merely because they are communicating something that intelligence agency eavesdroppers want to hear. There is hardly ever a counterterrorism or even a counterintelligence predicate involved. It is surveillance for the sake of surveillance.