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United States

Confirmed: U.S. Spies On European Corporations 406

FrankW writes "Former United States Central Intelligence Agency director James Woolsey confirmed in Washington this week that the U.S. steals economic secrets 'with espionage, with communications [intelligence], with reconnaissance satellites,' and that there was now 'some increased emphasis' on economic intelligence. He claimed that economic spying was justified because European companies had a 'national culture' of bribery and were the 'principle offenders from the point of view of paying bribes in major international contracts in the world.'" And he says the U.S. government doesn't deliver corporate secrets to U.S. companies - unless it would benefit them. How reassuring. The source is Heise Online (the publishers of c't). The full article is available in English. See also the recent European report Interception Capabilities 2000 (summary), which the former director said was "intellectually honest."
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Confirmed: U.S. Spies On European Corporations

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Incorrect!

    I am Canadian. I worked with the NSA since the early 70's. Since I'm still under restrictions due to secrecy (hence the AC) I'm gonna tell you a few things. I'm also going to spel sum things wrong, in an attempt to get past the cens#rs.

    No secrets, however, so get that out of your mind. Mostly because I don't think anyone here could handle them, but also because even here, there is no such thing as secrecy. Call me paranoid? I believe I have the right, and the informed opinion to be.

    Canadian business gets ZIP benefit from any intellece gathered in Canada. The int gathered here is mostly on third parties, and that benefits CS I S. Some is on businesses, but only on Canadian based and overseas offices located within it's borders. The juicy stuff goes right back to the states.

    Every time I see a story on this type of subject I laugh. If only you knew what is really out there, you'd give up your computers and go and live in a cave. That way, you'd have the privacy you wanted.

    And that would be the only way.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    A chinese friend of mine has and interestinglife - her granparents were killed by the communists because they were rich, her family became poor, now they're very well off thanks to the American-style economy.

    But still they have to deal with bribery on a day to day basis. Fortunately her family knows high-ranking Chinese officials so they have their way most of the time. BUT, my point is bribery is embedded in Chinese culture.

    Same thing in India(some regions are especially well known for smooth-talking bribery). My Indian friends laugh at the bribery which is a part of their national heritage. They've been doing it for _years_. Most Indians who want to secure their assets have bodyguards, and all are very familiar with bribery. Similar thing in many African nations(not all). Sure the U.S. is not immune - witness campaign financing. But we're not half as bad as China and India, trust you me.

    In having lived in Europe I don't see that bribery is a major problem there, certainly _nothing_ like the bribery which goes on in the rest of the world. I believe the CIA will have its hands full as U.S. business expands into China and India.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    >There will always be somebody trying to screw us.
    >We should always do whatever we can to screw
    >others before they screw us.

    Street robber morals. Worse even than the military "preventive retaliation" lies in that you attack persons without even pretending that it might be they who could theoretically be doing the same to you, but anybody else.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's illegal for U.S. companies to commit bribery in the U.S. or abroad. European governments have not made it illegal for European companies to bribe officials in other countries. This of course puts U.S. companies at a disadvantage in some parts of the world.

    Hmm. I thought the USA was on a war against drugs... some really powerfull stuff must still be coming through... I can;t magine any other way someone could have such flawed thoughts about this.
    TYhe USA has fuly legalized bribing the entire poltical system. (they call this donations for campeigns... if any european political party would ever accept money in that way they are exit... look at what is happening in Germany right now)
    Also, US companies are very good at holding dolars in someones face to make them decide for them... I have seen so repeatedly. If you believe they wouldn't do that because the law says they can't... here is a clue: people sometimes ignore the law.

  • A quick point, the u.s.a. is the ONLY country were bribery to gain an international contract is against the law. In all other countries it's not against the law. Thus american companies are at a great disadvantage when bidding on international contracts. Until the EU gets their act together to make bribery illegal I don't see why the USA should stop spying to learn 'the bribe of the week'. The French have no moral guilt in this regard. It's part of their business culture. The US government should help American companies to avoid them losing contracts to others due to bribes.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Reminds me of George Carlin's comment on Bill Clinton: "He's full of shit but, at least he's honest about being full of shit." (paraphrased).

    No. Bill Clinton would first say, "No that's not shit." Then, when called on that, he'd say "No, it depends on what the word 'full' means." Then, when finally called, he'd just blame all the shit in the world on the Republicans.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    If countries were people and we all went to school, America would be that stupid fat kid that nobody liked, who went around robing your homework and stealing your lunch money. Most of your brains come from people leaving their native countries to go and live in America. Why is it that so many 2nd, 3rd (and so on) generation americans are so inward looking and arrogant.
  • And during WWII, Henry Ford sold the Nazis the vehicales they used to assist in killing thousands of US soldiers - drafted citizens. Corporations are, more often than not, run in such a fashion that they will happily endager or kill people on a grand scale for a few bucks, all the while chanting the mantra of maximising shareholder returns. It's hardly related to the nationality of the corporation.

    For that matter, US alphabet soup agencies are hardly squeeky clean. Ever hear of arms for hostages f'rinstance?

  • Many moons ago (at the time First World War), the ancestor of the FBI arose in the US. It was intended, in the panic of war and the subsequent Russian Revolution and rise of Communism in Eastern Europe, to stamp out any chance of the emergence of Communist and Socialist groups in the US, with the main risk allegedly being foreigners importing their ideas. We'll gloss over the question of whether the US government has any business supervising the political beliefs of its own citizens for a moment.

    The Bureau of Investigation of the Justice department did such a fine job of stamping out the danger of undersirable political thought and enforcing the recently minted Mann act (aimed at the White Slave trade) that it had a problem byu the 1920's - too little to do within the brief it was formed under. So it began expanding, using organised crime and interstate commerce to justify a widening scope into what would eventually become the FBI - which subsequently gained notoriety for spying on US citizens, carrying out dubious covert operations in Latin America, opposing the Civil Rights movement (hey, once you're sanctioned to decide what it is acceptable for US citizens to believe in, whi stop at Communism?).

    Spy agencies are like any other hierarchical organisation, private or public. They attract people who wish to exercise power within the context of the organisation, and who wish the organisation to grow in scope and size, to increase their own power. The FBI is a good case study of a relatively narrow-focus group ballooning out of control (not an exaggeration - oversight of the FBI by elected representitives was a joke until after the death of Hoover). The CIA is seeking to expand its brief? Hardly surprising - you're not likely to see the CIA declare, "Hey, the Cold War is over, and we've been grossly incompetant in maintaining US interests in the posr-Cold War world, just disestablish us and set up a new agency!" No, one is seeing the CIA try to justify its size and still expand further by expanding the terms of its mission. And, like the FBI, one should be wary of lending a jingoistic support. I'm sure plenty of people who were happy to see the FBI frame immigrants for selling secrets, oops, catching Communist traitors, were less happy to hear of the FBI blackmailing Martin Luther King, or waste tens of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money spying on dangerous revolutionaries like Kris Kristofferson.

    And that's even before considering the morality of it all...

  • wow, that's new. Let's say how much the US sucks... all together.

    In its relatively short history by now US outsucked most of countries that existed for many centuries more -- and most of other countries were severely criticized by their citizens all the time in the process. OTOH, most of US citizens just *LOVE* their country, so definitely criticism/suckage ratio is still low.

  • There will always be somebody trying to screw us. We should always do whatever we can to screw others before they screw us.
    That is brilliant, and I agree 110%.
    That's stupid horseshit. Substitute "screw" with "shoot" and count the remaining people on earth...
  • Flight.

    Which? Heavier than air was developed in US and Australia. A lot of people think it is likely that hot air ballons were used in India and China long before Europe.

    *Powered* Flight was developed in the US. Heavier than air, but unpowered, was Otto Lilienthal, near Berlin, Germany.

  • I don't care how much you try to make these agencies seem like faceless and evil entities, real people work hard to try and make the US safe from terrorism. Obviously not all of their activities are used to track terrorism, but your statement is still a ludicrous exaggeration. The fact that these organizations have such a strict and enforced veil of secrecy means that ANYTHING could be happening, and secrecy means little oversight and easy abuse of power. These people that worked so hard to protect the US from terrorism certainly didn't affect the bombing in Oklahoma or those embassies in Africa did it? If America and its rougue organizations (government, individual or corporate) quit making an obnoxious ass of themselves, fewer maligned people would want to bomb us in the first place. Face it, the world has good reason to hate the actions of those in America, although they do unfairly put those that are in absolutely no position to know what is going on with those that are possibly violating laws.
  • Maybe if the US didn't throw its weight around quite so much, there would be fewer groups with grudges against it, and it would have less to worry about in the way of terrorism.
  • That's not strictly true. There are a number of crimes that Britons overseas can be tried for in Britain (and a number of crimes which occur to Britons overseas which theoretically the criminals can be tried for in Britain, if they ever manage to get hold of them). Similarly, I understand from American friends (forgive me if I get this wrong, this is from a drunken pub discussion) that Americans living overseas can be tried for in America including, bizarrely enough, not paying your taxes. ?
  • Are you saying he is a hypocrite because he is of the same nationality as some others that did the same thing that he is complaining about? If so you are too stupid to be allowed to use a computer. Or are you accusing him of being a member of the NSA/CIA? If so on what basis do you make this assertion.

    I am British and my gov play an important part in this, but that does not make me a hypocrite for thinking it is wrong.
  • Actually, I think "Step by Step" is more deserving of retribution.

    Of course, my country, Canada, is no less guilty. Although I have no governmental or representative authority, I hereby apologize to the world for Anne Murray, Rex Murphy, Preston Manning, and Lucien Bouchard.

    Actually, Rex Murphy reminds me a lot of Jon Katz. Oh, god, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense--- Nah. Jon Katz is smarter. CBC listeners will understand this...
  • You're right.

    It's A-OK to buy a country (with media budgets) but it's plainly wrong to buy a deal.

    Sure.

    You're right.

    You have just got to keep an eye on such buggers, don't cha.

    Who knows? They just might get a clue and buy a government. Worse. They might just buy *your* government. Or have they done so already?
  • The CIA has long been the loyal hit squad for U.S. business interests. For example, they crushed freedom fighters in Guatemala to help a giant banana import company. This happened in the 1950s.

    As for all those who say, "it happens--get over it," let me inform you that it is our responsibility as citizens to maintain constant vigilance over government. If things like this didn't happen, we wouldn't need to follow their actions. Corporatism is very nasty and we must be as ruthless in fighting it as we are in fighting infringements on our Constitutional rights. Actually, our record on protecting our rights isn't that good either but that's another issue.

  • Just a note, bribery is illegal, however there is nothing illegal about making a 'facilitating payment'. The difference being that you're not allowed to make a facilitating payment for something to which you're not legally entitled. However, there is nothing at all illegal about making a 'facilitating payment' to customs officials or what not to get through customs in a 3rd world country expediently.
    ----------------------------
  • Still nothing confirms that Russian/Soviet industry actually depended on stolen technology. In my experience espionage did more harm than good to it because even in the area of computers design (that in Russia was always considered to be one of the least developed) the adoption in 80's of "SM" series (DEC) and "ES" (IBM) caused the cancellation of BESM/Elbrus line (or near-cancellation -- it looks like research/design team survived in some form, but "political" decision was to adopt DEC minicomputers and IBM mainframes for mass production).

    Even in that case most of things were results of hardware reverse-engineering, very common practice at that time because licensing was impossible even if both Russians and DEC/IBM wanted to.

    In other areas things are even less in favor of this theory -- while examples of reverse engineering and ignoring patents/copyrights/... are abundant, most of problems in Russian industry were caused by poor organization not inferiority in research or design. Russia accomplished what few other countries did in this century (I hope, I shouldn't explain one more time that year 2000 is still 20'th century?) -- supporting a self-sufficient economy that depends neither on cheap foreign labor, nor on rich and dumb foreign consumers without causing a social disaster.

  • Military wants to know advancements corporations and industries are making for their potential in military uses. In doing so some of this intelligence gets passed along to a countries own corporations and industries.

    And what is the justification for that? Why government won't keep information from companies just like it keeps it from its citizens? If country's defense was the reason, the primary concern would be to avoid a possibility of disclosure to keep sources of information being useful in the future. In the hands of company information will be more likely to be traced back to actual act of espionage because company's actions attract enough attention to make foreign governments suspicious. Therefore in the end government risks its sources of useful for defense information to allow company to make more money -- am I the only person here who thinks that it's very wrong order of priorities?

  • Incidentally, this is what makes me laugh at those "Keep Trade with China Open" commercials. I'm not sure if anyone else in the USA has seen them, but they're really funny. They imply that keeping trade with China open will "make China play by the rules" and "expose China to our democratic values." It's a riot.

    See above about embargo -- Chinese government steals technology for products that can't be legally imported anyway, and competes with american companies in other areas. US steals what can be bought everywhere, but "national pride" doesn't allow to keep american companies beaten by those inferior Europeans and Asians.

  • The Russians admitted that the only thing that kept them on par with the Americans (and kept them from being militarily, the Third World country they were in reality) during the Cold War was economic espionage

    Who said that? I am Russian, and I didn't.

    (second on their 'To-Do' list only to suppressing dissidents -internal and external- Read 'The KGB Papers' for more.)

    ISBN? And what is it anyway -- some piece of fiction? An article from tabloid?

  • Chinese government steals technology for products that can't be legally imported anyway, and competes with american companies in other areas.

    The fact is, not all countries play by the same set of rules. This pretty much makes for a free-for-all kind of environment in which each side seeks an advantage over the other through any means available to them. In some countries this means that they exploit people, especially children, as dirt-cheap labor. In others, a lot of bribery and blackmail takes place. In the US, we have some pretty good intelligence agencies that turn over the fruits of their spy-games and that's how some American companies compete with their foreign counterparts. I don't like it, but I don't currently see any way around it either.

  • That is something I feel *is* a good use of American tax dollars. It's not theft...not anymore than DeCSS is theft.

    American companies are staffed by American taxpayers, and IMHO using the US Intellegence system to run both counter-intel and intel gathering operations against foreign governments that are doing the same to the US isn't wrong, it's the right thing to do.

  • You don't have to support the Democrat/Republican regime, you know. The opposition parties in America at present are weak but growing. If you, CiXeL, and those who agree with you join the opposition, it will become strong enough to change America's political reality.

    There are several opposition parties, of which the most well-known are the Libertarians [lp.org], the the Reform Party [reformparty.org], the the Greens [greenparty.org], and the Socialists [sp-usa.org]. I myself am a Libertarian, but I would rather that you vote for any opposition party rather than voting for the regime (Democrat or Republican) or not voting at all.

    Some Americans feel that it is "throwing their vote away" to vote for a candidate who is not likely to win -- and instead vote for the "lesser of two evils" among the Democrat and Republican. The problem with this is that, as you point out, the Dems and Reps really are not very different! Because of this, a vote for either a Democrat or Republican is basically a vote for their combined regime -- which, if you don't support the regime, is worse than throwing your vote away. Voting for even the tiniest of opposition parties, in contrast, registers your opposition to the Dem/Rep regime, and brings us closer to a real political debate in this country -- even if your candidate doesn't win this time.

    Americans, please help bring real issues, real debate, and real differences back to our nation's political process. Give up on the Democrat/Republican regime. Vote for the opposition.

  • In the future I'd be more concerned with the EU when they finally get their act together.

    Which, given the differences between Eurostates the EU's culture of glacial bureaucracy, and the culture of huge, inefficient socialist institutions predominant on the continent. will probably be when Hell freezes over.
  • Ironically, you failed to mention the only episode when French troops actually engaged American troops, that is, the invasion of North Africa in 1942

    The US and Britain also sank a large part of the French fleet anchored in Algeria to stop it falling into German hands. This created serious resentment of the Allies in France at the time - compounded by careless Allied bombing of targets in France which resulted in civilian deaths.

    In fact, several thousand French troops fought on the side of the Germans as members of the SS. This is rarely recorded for several reasons. The French are very embarassed about their role in WWII (French museums have exhibitions on the resistance and liberation - but ignore the massive collabaration with the occupying German forces). The men who fought in the SS are virtually all dead, having been handed over to the Free French forces by the US Army who they had surrendered to. When a French general asked why the men were wearing German uniforms, one responded asking why the general was wearing a US uniform. Consequently they were shot.

    It is estimated that 250,000 people died in France as a consequence of the purge (which was largely rooted in guilt brought on by French collabaration). It should come as no surprise that the most vociferous condemnation of collabarators came from those suspected of it themselves. It is also a sad fact that those who received the worst treatment were women suspected of sleeping with German troops, while others saw it as a great opportunity to settle old scores. Meanwhile, most if not all of those responsible for colluding in things like the rounding up of Jews for liquidation went unpunished. Many became important in political life later, especially under the Gaulist administration.

    It appears that German army orders to treat the French populace with respect paid off - the resistance was a tiny and ineffectual, while collabaration was endemic. As many historians and contemporary French people observed, few of those who claimed to be members of the resistance really were.

    It all goes to show that no side is free of guilt when it comes to acts of inhumaity during wartime. The victors simply benefit from their ability to write history how they see fit. Occasional glimpses of a more unclouded past are provided by declassification of documents, but many will never see the light of day having been destroyed or indefinitely restricted.


    Chris Wareham



  • Ahhhh...

    Not so long ago, there were lots of furor of how the French, the Chinese, the Ruskies, the Isrealis and everybody and their cousins of the entire world were spying on the United States.

    Ahhhh...

    Now it is revealed that the POT who was making so much loud calls against all those kettles is him/her/itself not so angelic after all.

    Ahhhh...

    Who says this world isn't fun?

  • Let's see.... The rape pillage and plunder laws of a country apply only on that country's soil.

    Is that what you are saying? Does this mean it's ok for our govt to rape pillage and plunder as long as they do it in foreign countries? (and of ocurse don't get caught)

    I thought rule of law meant laws applied equally. Obviously they don't in the real world, but it's never been advocated quite so openly since Richard Nixon.

    Now if you had said that US laws allow spying overseas, you might have a consistent argument. But you are saying it's ok to break our own laws, as long as we do it overseas.

    --
  • There are a lot of people posting here that don't understand the spy game. First, most intelligence is gathered through plain old human interaction, e.g., getting someone to talk, stealing things, etc. Encryption isn't likely to slow these types of activities down, so stop thinking it is a magic amulet that protects you against bad guys.

    Second, spying is an important aspect of international affairs. The more you know, the better decisions you make. Many of the people posting here would rather have less information on which to base decisions because spying is "bad." I prefer that we have the information available to us so that we have the opportunity to make good decisions (not that we always will).

    Third, everyone really is doing it. The French, in particular, have been extremely aggressive with economic spying both against the US and their other allies. I doubt that US efforts are even close to their's or China's. If you think we don't have fairly complete intelligence files on the British or anyone else, you're not very bright. They definitely have them on us.

    Fourth, we often spy on industrial targets to understand production rates, output, planned growth, etc. It helps us understand what the other countries long term strategies are. The information that is passed along would most likely be used to help our industries (that are considered critical to our economy) remain competitive.

    So, while it isn't exactly glamorous and exciting, it is an important part of the overall intelligence picture that we need to have. And, while it may seem unfair, it is in fact the only way to level the playing field since most other nations' intelligence agencies consider us hopelessly naive because we don't normally concentrate on economic intelligence and they do.

    I recommend anyone seriously interested read Sun Tzu's remarks on spying. He grokked it.
  • Hi. Let me introduce myself: I'm 29, male, and European. Italian, to be exact (more on this later).

    I've read a lot of the messages here, almost all written by american people. It seems to me that many of you missed a little fact about this little fuss:

    1- It's about Echelon, and almost all information gathered is open, so it's not like espionage.

    Yeah, right. It's WORSE. Think of data mining applied to everyday conversation. You can pick up secrets the people telling them don't know themselves. You say it's ok because these are all public data? I think that this is worse than Orwell's 1984 world: at least there you knew thye were listening.

    2- American companies don't need to spy on Europeans ones

    Americans companies do have a lot of knowledge in many areas, they have the lead in a lot of businesses, sometimes even if they doesn't deserve this (think Microsoft :). However there are many other fields in wich US companies are behind European or Japanese ones, or just about on par: don't you think that even knowing little data on your competitor (how many faxes he exchanged with your potential customer, or with strategic partners, for example) would be a decisive advantage?

    3- Bribery is endemic to Europe

    Pull your brakes, please! I do know bribery is quite common, especially in some countries (mine, for example...) but usually you don't get very far with it in the big contract area, unless you also sell a very good product: unless your're a state employed decision maker put there because you're the nephew (sp?) of some big politician, and your briber wants to grant you a workplace after, you don't go very far: someone tried (Lockheed, Agusta) and got jailed (or worse, shot itself for the shame - of being caught, I presume ;).

    The "we only do this againts bribery" excuse is just that, an excuse to do other things, exactly like UCITA and DMCA are not to protect IP rights, but to get more of YOUR money. Ask yourself which is the difference between lobbying some senator and bribing someone to buy your stuff.

    And now, *grand finale* (aka UTTER FANTAPOLITIC MODE ON)

    How to ruin a flourishing country
    Imagine you have a 'friendly' country with a very good economic momentum. They have strong companies, good technology and *a lot of money*. Much of this success is due to they products winning greatly in the american market, where they are pervceeived as superior to the others and yet cheaper. With all this money, they start buying a lot of things (companies, buildings, paintings...) abroad and in the US in particular. Now, misteriously, this country starts to be hit by political scandals, their new investments in other countries go wrong, and after a while some big banks go bankrupt, leaving a lot of people and companies 'in it to their collars'. How can this happen? Very easily: just spyon the chats between local politicians, listen to the strategic investment plans the industries and financial corporations, move yourself well to 'aid' their competitor in the country were it hurts most, and finally banks and the whole economy will collapse, eventually with a big crush that country is big enough. And all this only listening to almost public data, the ones that go over telephones, faxes, telex and the net, that are the media by which businesses communicate.

    Obvously, all this is pure speculation, and all and every resemblance with real world fact are pure coincidence.

    Ciaooooo...
    Rob!

  • Perhaps many US slashdotter hate the French, because they look too much like yourselves.

    You have hit the nail precisely on the head.

    I often hear my fellow Americans disparagingly comment about France's absurd levels of nationalism while happy to proclaim their own patriotism to this country with their next breath. It is rather clear to nearly anyone who has spend any significant time in both France and the US that the level of nationalism, or "patriotism" if you will, is very similar in both countries.

    Indeed, the similarities in how the French view their military, their industry, and take pride in their country and culture, and how citizens of the United States do the same, is quite startling.

    Perhaps it is our very similarities that cause so many people in one nation to dislike the other, even though their dislike is based soley on rumor and innuendo, and either the most superficial of personal experiences (e.g. "the garcon was impolite to me, f*cking rude French!"), or, more commonly, absolutely no personal experience at all.

    After all, it is a rare human being indeed who can have a mirror held up to themselves, look at their flaws, and feel grateful for having them pointed out. Far more common is the irrational desire to smash the mirror and use the shards to carve up the offensive individual who had the audacity to point out that one's own culture and society is not only imperfect, but in many ways actively malignant both to themselves and the rest of humanity.

    And how easily we forget the rude waiter in Chicago or New York, yet relish and relive the memory of the rude garcon in Paris years later.
  • Industrial espionage has been a top priority of the KGB/GRU/FSB since World War II. I've seen counter-intelligence reports that say it now gets more resources than ever before. China also places a heavy emphasis on industrial espionage.
  • There is a federal law against American corporations bribing foreign officials. The company I work for gives annual business ethics briefings to all of its employees and they are told that bribery is unethical, illegal and a cause for immediate dismissal.
  • It's fine and good to expect something more from the US, but atleast be apprised as to the facts.

    Undeniable fact of the matter is that most of our foreign competitors are FAR worse offenders. What you have to realize is that most foreign companies are run ENTIRELY different than the US. We, the United States, operate heavily on a market based system, where market valuation is the measure of success. Not true in almost every other country here, they operate on different systems. In Germany, for example, the board of directors wil commonly be comprised of bankers, unions, psuedo-government officials, and many other interests. The result of this creates a system where government plays a much much larger role. The two are very much intertwined. Furthermore, all this this results is much more static leadership. Meaning, that leadership is much more cozier with one another, and the government; if for no other reason then they've been in bed with each other since day one.

    This is not true with the US. With the exception of certain government contractors (e.g., Hughes, Boeing, etc), the government is very much hands off. Leadership, though far from perfect, is far more dynamic. If you don't perform, you're going to get fired. If the board sucks, it's very likely they'll get taken over. All this, in turn, dramatically changes the relationship with other corporations and government.

    The point of all this is not that US corporations are perfect, far from it. US corporations have their own very significant flaws, but let's not confuse the issues here. The corporate culture is very different, and consequently, the use and demand of such intelligence has got to be far lesser. For example, I would find it very hard to believe that a company such as J&J (not a large military government contractor) would be in bed with the CIA/NSA. Not true with many other similar large foreign corporations; there are thousands of documented cases of espionage. There is direct government interest in success of particular firms.

    Though I can see the CIA supplying, say, Hughes with military/aerospace designs or knowledge, to insure that they have a fighting chance, I would very much differentiate the (the likes of Hughes and the likes of J&J and the thousands of other corporations). There is a much more direct government interest here. The government has a relatively direct interest in seeing that these aerospace firms are at the top of their game. Even though they're not directly government entities, such firms are responsible for building most warplanes, subs, etc. Given that, you can be sure, other nations' intelligence agencies are working against them, I think the CIA/NSA must do so in this case. (Not only is their a defense interest here, but they must level the playing field as foreign states are working directly against them)

    That being said, I wouldn't be too suprised if some abuse of this occurred. Such as Boeing's civilian aircraft division profiting from intelligence work done for military purposes (though not actual military intelligence).

    The bottom line: The US may abuse its intelligence facilities to some degree, but it's hardly pervasive. It is far far more common in other countries (e.g., France, Israel, Germany), whether or not your average slashdotter realizes it. I get tired of everyone jumping all over such things, when every country but the US has been known to do this for decades. Why haven't I seen similar outrage against France and company, before this?....
  • Duncan Campbell is obviously a pseudonym used by the cartel of secret-agent-men who are REALLY running the world. They're just spreading disinformation through this 'Duncan Campbell' invention to distract us from the REAL story; That William Gates III is the evil overlord who dictates our every move, and is actually merely a pawn of the small grey aliens that live at the Martian poles and shoot down our helpless little landers.

    Enough of this. I'm going back to my bong now...

    --
  • Bribery may be rampant throughout the world. But the nations where it is endemic are far less successful than those where it is rare.

    I have lived in Stockholm the last five years in a culture where bribery is rare and treated as a crime (surf here [www1.gwdg.de]). Despite the horrible tax rates and small population here, this society is one of the richest on earth.

    Previous to this I lived in Honduras, which is listed [www.gwdg.de] as the sixth most corrupt nations in the world. Bribes in Honduras suck the country dry of any usable capital and hamstring the entire economy. The trickle down effect of bribes, feeding bribes, feeding bribes waters down any real value without producing anything (any good or service)!

    I think the countries Woolsey is referring to most are Germany and France. While living in Central America, these guys played very fast and loose with all of the countries' natural resources there via a variety of NGO's and official aid agencies. Bribery was their modus operandi and I knew personally several Honduran officials on their 'payroll'. I also met a couple scientists who had first hand knowledge of German bribery funding Teak deforestation via an NGO in Indonesia.

    For what it's worth, in my experience the countries that participate in this game always lose in the long run - and that includes both the bribers and bribees. Evesdropping may provide some short-term benefits in specific circumstances for more honest countries, but in the long run honesty pays off in direct, tangible benefits such as a vibrant economy and real wealth creation.

  • Mills.

    Try Africa (Egypt)

    Enhanced agriculture.

    Asia. Particularly the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates

    Printing press (ok, ok, but the Chinese kept it to themselves).

    you answer yourself

    Law.

    code of Hammurabi - Asia

    Rationalism.

    Roots are in Egypt, which was the primary source for the works of Thales.

    The nation state.

    Sumeria.

    Cars.

    ok you got one right

    Flight.

    Which? Heavier than air was developed in US and Australia. A lot of people think it is likely that hot air ballons were used in India and China long before Europe.

    Rockets.

    what do you think Chinese fireworks are?

  • Dude, go back and read my post, and pay particular attention to the three adjectives that I used to qualify "law".

    Remember that a great many forgeigners do business and own property in the United States. And remember that a great many Americans do business and own property in foriegn nations. That's commerce, and you can't have it without stable laws (local laws, and adherance to international treaties). No one wants to do business in nations where governments can come in and steal your trade secrets, or nationalize your property, or have their way with your secretaries, or whatever.
    This has probably hurt American commercial interets, because even though it might help Boing or GM or whoever recieves these secrets, Joe Schmo Medium Business has now just had his foriegn relationships strained a little more. Why should you do business with Americans, when it invites your company to espionage?

    Imagine if tomorrow France nationalized every American owned property on French soil. It's absurd, but no more than your example. What would you say then? "It's their law, they can do what they want."?
  • No, the world's not such a nice place, but this is not what I pay my taxes for. This is THEFT. Industrial Espionage. There is no pretty word for it. And it is NOT the job of the American (or any other) Government.
    It is in the nation's best interests to make sure that foreign money goes into buying American dollars, particularly of the billion dollar range. Said protection of national interests includes industrial espionage. Consider it something like the NSA paying for itself, indirectly. Look at incentives here.

    There is normative and positive; the normative here is that this exists and it cannot be any other way in this system. Positively it would be different, but that's an impossibility right now. Incentives are not in making the most people happy.

  • And Europe was settled from Africa. So what. If you want to draw a line in history and say this is where it all started you'd better realize that the line can be draw at 1776 just as easily as it can be drawn at 1000 BC.
  • Why is it that every time I see something on Echelon its by Duncan Cambell? Is he really the only journalist interested in this?

    I would have thought that these remarks are important enough to have been reported by someone else. There are supposed to have been enough journalists at the press conference.

    Can anyone find anything on this subject which is not written by or based entirely upon the writings of Duncan Cambell?

    Paul.

  • Mills. Enhanced agriculture. Printing press (ok, ok, but the Chinese kept it to themselves). Law. Rationalism. The nation state. Cars. Flight. Rockets.

    You forgot: Clones, IP over Power Grid, audio casettes, museums, the telescope, democracy, and metal knives.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • This post used to contain a lot of information about bribery to get higher moderation points on slashdot comments, but since the american gouvernement definitly has nothing better to do, it has just removed all the bribery information that was contained in this message. Here below is what is left after the original message was stripped :

    Gosh ... I'm ... proud ... to be ... an ... americans !
  • I submitted an article (declined) a while ago regarding a French intelligence report that National Security Agency agents had installed monitoring software, "secret programs," in Microsoft software. Another good reason to keep stuff open-source, turn a blind eye for this to ever happen with Linux...

    Chris Hagar
  • Believing that an "American" corporation's interests are the same as your interests, or the interests of American taxpayers is even more naive and delusional than believing that the American government's interests are the same as the interests of the American taxpayers.
  • (BTW, I wonder why US doesn't just elect companies for Congress and President -- they are "persons" under american laws that have "rights".)

    Either you aren't a US citizen, or you slept through your Civics classes. A corporation is a "legal person", but they do not have all the "rights" a real person has. In the law, a corporation can sign contracts, own property, and perform a few other acts that only a "person" can perform, but a corporation cannot receive Social Security when it turns 65, it cannot vote, it cannot run for office (nor can it donate money directly to canditate ("hard money") in excess of $1000), etc.


    This is an often misquoted part of American law, and I would suggest that you actually do some research before publicly expressing an opinion.

  • I'm so damn tired of this "if you dont like it move somewhere else" attitude. What if you find something you really dont like with your country? Would you shut up and just move without a word? Or would you complain about it?
    This is a dead-accurate rebuttal to the "leave it" crowd, and I wish I could claim credit for it:

    My country, right or wrong.
    When right, to keep it right.
    When wrong, to make it right.
    --

  • You can be as smart as you want to but if I still have the bombs I can take out your country any time I like and all the Shakespeare and math will not save you.
    More to the point I do not completely think that the Europeans don't do a little espionage on our turf. Considering that the NSA uses people in Britian to spy on us I would think that they use a little of that "data" to aid themselves whenever they can.
  • If you think about it if say a groups can conduct communications in a secure method that means that a country can quite easily force another to use brute force and grisly methods to get what they want when they could have just as easily decrypted the message.
  • Why would the people that the French shifted not say do a little revenge move and make them pay? Perhaps sanctions?
  • Well let's look at this in detail.
    I am a government contractor working on a weapons system or perhaps something that I want to do for another country. Now suppose that for some reason say the Chinese or the Germans seem to be absolutely much better (read giving a little something under the table to the people involved to make the outcome better). Now this costs my company billions and so I get mad and have a little talk with the State Department and a few other people. Now magnify this several times and you understand why the US has wanted to take decisive action against this. Personally if my standard of living and my ability to be secure in the world is made better than I don't really mind too much. You can call me biased if you want but I am sure if you talk to the French, English, Spanish, Germans, Finns, (insert European country here) you will find that and the end of the say what really matters is being comfortable.
  • Oh please you mean that ecconomic prosperity in the United States is a direct result of the fact that there is some high level spying going on? Last I checked there wasn't a public web page that listed various secret information from other countries and allows each and every business in the USA to get it when and if they please.
    Furthermore how do you plan to have a group of European nations beat up and bully the US? Strategically that would never work.
  • :) Actually I agree wholeheartedly, in fact, I've noticed an even more irritating trend (and this is coming from someone who actually *does* moderate, and I'd like to think I do it concientiously) which I've exploited here half-intentionally:

    Any time someone bitches about how their post is going to be marked down as flamebait/troll, it (almost instantly) garners two or three additional +1's. I mean, I'm all for being counter culture, but moderators, c'mon. No we shouldn't kill stories that knock linux (for example) just on principle, but we should also not boost up crap for no reason other than to prove the poster wrong.

  • I think the point is to know about these things before the deal is closed and it's all over the newspapers.

    Also, I believe the US intelligence community has many people who are assigned to a particular region or country and come to work every day to read all the newpapers from there, listen to TV and Radio news, educate themselves tecjhnically on the major economic industries, and otherwise be Johnny-know-it-all for every that has anything to do with that area.
  • More info here: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/archive/1995/950 109/950109.intelligence.html Any wonder why he has it in for his old agency?
  • French state intelligence bugged the headrests of Air France airliners (and sunk the Rainbow Warrior, the flagship of GreenPeace in the South Pacific, killing two anti-nuclear activists). The UK and Germany, as well as Canada, Australia, Japan, South Africa, and India have all had members of their foreign intelligence services 'invited to leave' the United States after their efforts to suborn US high tech
    workers and government bureaucrats have been compromised by the FBI, and CIA counter-intelligence.

    We are only returning the favors done to us by our erstwhile 'allies!'

  • Spying is a form of agressive politics, like war is. We don't just accept the fact that a country with bigger guns can wage a war against smaller countries. We should not accept espionage by the superpower as inevitable.

    Espionage like war sometimes happens, and sometimes some people feel it is the right thing to do. But we should try to set up means and rules for freedom and privacy, as much as is possible.

    Luckily spying is relatively easy to prevent with modern cryptographic methods. We just need to keep them free. I hope these news make the rest of EU countries understand this. Governments here in Scandinavia already take it for granted that everybody has the right to use/buy/sell whatever privacy tools they want to.

    A court of law may try to force a suspect to open up secret data in a criminal case, but only after a legal process.

  • Well... simple interception of data and decryption
    is a fairly passive act...very hard to catch an
    easedropper sitting on the wire (unless you use
    physical fiber and quantum encryption...but thats
    fairly impractical)

    If they can't decrypt it...then any other
    techniques become increasingly more invasive and
    likely to be caught.

    Course...there is always simple bribary. Not much
    in the way of secrets you couldn't get...all ya
    have to do is throw enough money at the problem.
    (of course...they have plenty of that)

  • It is in the nation's best interests to make sure that foreign money goes into buying American dollars

    Wasn't the US based upon the concept of a free market and capitalism? I fail to see how a government interfering in companies' affairs contributes to a free market.

    IIRC, it is the government's responsibility to ensure the market is *FAIR* for all interested, and not favouring to the "home boys".

    Although I hesitate to use it, I have to resort to an age-old cliché: "If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would yout too?" It is irrelevant whether other countries practice government-sponsored industrial espionage, it is against what the United States was created for.

    It's hypocritical to the maximus :)

    P.S. Glad I'm not American. :)

  • That's right! What's more, is CNN and MSNBC have yet to say word *one* regarding the nefarious deeds of the Trilateral Commission!! (to say nothing of the Rosicrucians!) Astounding, isn't it?
  • IIRC one of the factors that led the young lad in "The Falcon & the Snowman" US spy case to sell on US secrets to the Russians was reading the CIA material on how they were helping to subvert the then Govt. in Australia, then, as now, one of the US's "erstwhile 'allies'".
  • Another reason why the US opposes strong encryption exports. It's not in the best interest of economic espionage to make it easy to have routine trade secret information encrypted -- it would make it too hard to steal.
  • okay
    1. only a few days ago.. everyone on here was up in arms about the US government possibly invading the rights of its citzens, the second its done to overseas companies in the name of 'competition' there are far to many people on here who suddenly think its a great idea. do you really think US companies play by a different set of rules?

    2. to americans who dislike europeans, just remeber where your ancestral lines spread from.. a large percentage of you will descend from europe. perhaps you should consider your family history back more than 2 generations before making rash sterotypical arguments.

    3. if you still belive your government has your rights and opinons in mind when it makes it decisions, if you still belive that multinational companies actually care about what you think, perhaps you should have taken the red pill? hmm? next time your government makes a decisionor awards a contract,look a little closer.. who provides the funding for your senators campaigns?

    the world sucks.. get used to it

    dms0

    -= we need to redifne the enemy =-

  • "So you are advocating another World War and millions of casualties because some French company no longer has a secret anymore and loses a few hundred thousand francs in profit?"

    No, I'm advocating a show of force. The US as a political entity may be childish and aggressive, but it is neither as blind nor as stupid as it looks.

    "Many have pointed this out before, and I'll point it out again. European agencies routinely spy on American companies, especially the French, who do it quite blantantly."

    While that may be so, France is not the most powerful nation in the world, and hasn't been ever since a certain dimminutive Emperor was defeated.

    The U.S., on the other hand, is the most powerful nation in the world. We've got power, but also the duty to use that power responsibly.

    We could be setting a shining example of ethical government that the world could look up to, but instead we have, in essence, chosen to tell the world that anything goes, as long as you can get away with it.

    The idea of banding together for protection against a powerful bully is neither "sensationalistic" nor "ridiculous". It's what any self-respecting nation would do.

    --

  • Sorry, but we have some very firm laws on government procurement in the UK. Socialism does NOT equal corruption - if it did, then right wing dictatorships would be totally above board wouldn't they? When will Americans learn that there are more ways of running a country than being a right-wing republic, and governments are not intrinsically evil just because they are different.

    They're different from us, so they're evil. Lets kill them. Is this truly the message of America? I hope not.

  • There will always be somebody trying to screw us. We should always do whatever we can to screw others before they screw us.

    Well, this is yet another incidence of the prisoners dilemma isn't it. (For those who aren't familiar with this, its explained here [vub.ac.be])

    The most succesful solution to the iterated version has been shown to be tit-for-tat. i.e cooperate first, and then if you lose, do what the other player did last time. So if a country can agree with its allies that they shouldn't spy on each other, and they can each prove that they aren't, both countries win. The worst case is that the one that cooperated will be disadvantaged once. Unfortunately the stakes are a lot higher in this case, and nobody wants to risk losing the first time.
  • Last time I was in the USA people still prefered a European car over both american and asian cars, esp. Volvo

    Volvo is owned by Ford you bonehead.

  • Why would the people that the French shifted not say do a little revenge move and make them pay?

    Because we all know we're all spying on each other, but we're simply hush about it.

    This is why the Russians don't raise too big of a stink when they catch an American spy in Moscow, and vice-versa in the United States - both sides know they are spying on each other, so making a big fuss over it typically doesn't happen.

  • "On a more serious note, I think it's high time that people realized once and for all that U.S. spying is NOT to combat "terrorism" or whatnot, and realize that the privacy of hundreds of millions of people is being routinely violated."

    I don't care how much you try to make these agencies seem like faceless and evil entities, real people work hard to try and make the US safe from terrorism. Obviously not all of their activities are used to track terrorism, but your statement is still a ludicrous exaggeration.

    "Frankly, if I ran any of these European countries, you'd bet your ass that I'd immediately condemn this spying as a hostile act of aggression, and work out treaties with other nations explicitly naming any further spying as an act of war, and military alliances to give the treaties TEETH."

    So you are advocating another World War and millions of casualties because some French company no longer has a secret anymore and loses a few hundred thousand francs in profit?

    Many have pointed this out before, and I'll point it out again. European agencies routinely spy on American companies, especially the French, who do it quite blantantly.

    Your post is totally sensationalistic and completely ridiculous.
  • This is actually a very interesting point, because it brings up a third type of intelligence (which, as we shall see, isn't really intelligence at all).

    First, there's economic intelligence. The U.S. intelligence community is permitted to collect economic intelligence, which includes broad economic data (labor productivit, interest rates, national debt, economic growth, trade imbalance, etc.) some of which is considered secret. This can help the U.S. prepare for economic troubles on the horizon, like a meltdown of the peso or the Asian currency crash. The U.S. government can try to avert the crisis, or use our intelligence to at least minimize the damage. Also, economic data is important in understanding other countries' political status; knowing about North Korea requires knowing that country's financial straits. Or knowing about a country's history of bribery.

    Then there is industrial intelligence. This is illegal - meaning, U.S. intelligence agencies are not allowed to perform this activity. If they do, they should be prosecuted. Industrial intelligence involves finding out secrets about companies and trade negotiations and passing those secrets on to U.S. companies. This (for reasons I've addressed above) does not happen - or at least there has been no concrete evidence that it happens, and that is a reasonable standard of doubt.

    The third kind, though, is the idea you raise here. Business intelligence, is information collected by spies hired by private companies. This happens lots of times - businesses hire people to go undercover and work for a competitor and report back. Supposedly, this costs companies billions of dollars each year. (But, presumably, it therefore makes billions of dollars each year for other companies.)

    Since a key part of the definition of intelligence (used by the intelligence community in the U.S.) is that is must be collected and given to policymakers, neither industrial or business intelligence technically counts as "intelligence." And the CIA does neither. I'll begin to suspect them when I hear credible evidence from a company that believes its secrets have been stolen by a U.S. spy and given to a U.S. company. But we must not base our suspicions on the tenuous threads we have seen so far.

    A. Keiper

  • If 5% of my belongings were stolen, I wouldn't feel very good about myself.

    And you should be commended for that - it shows that you have moral standards above those of the occasional thief.

    But we're not talking about belongings kept in an apartment or house, of course. We're talking about secrets which affect the lives of millions of Americans and billions of others around the globe. Some of the information the U.S. intelligence community gathers secretly includes:

    • The location and number of Chinese nuclear missiles, more than a dozen of which could already hit U.S. targets.

      The status of the nuclear weapons programs in Iraq.

      The health of North Korea's economy, which is an important indicator of that country's stability - and therefore, of the entire region's safety.

      The software piracy market in Hong Kong.

      The relationship between Moscow corporate heads and the Kremlin leadership.

    These are just a few examples of important intelligence collected secretly (or "stolen," as you say). I'm glad there are people finding these things out.

    A. Keiper

  • The goverments of most other countrys are corrupt beyond even the wildest imagination [...]

    How naive... you think the US government is less corrupt? Even after all this recent bs about DMCA and UCITA and allllll that? Sorry, now, I'll be back in a few days when I've finished laughing.

  • Nobody's holding you in this country...Find the first flight out if you want out so bad.

    <SARCASM>YAY! Let's all stop trying to make things better or critizise what's wrong, let's just all move somewhere else!</SARCASM>

    Oh now please! Really... I'm so damn tired of this "if you dont like it move somewhere else" attitude. What if you find something you really dont like with your country? Would you shut up and just move without a word? Or would you complain about it? Maybe you have something keeping you in your country? Family? Friends? Come on... if we all just shuffle around like bees each time something is wrong and keep our mouths shut to not voice our oppinions and annoy people who cant take someone with a different oppinion in their country, how do you expect anything to be good in the end?

  • Normally thought, spying was done on political grounds. economical ground was typically limited to industrial spying and not commandited by government themselves. And frankly the US is pretty arrogant to tell other countries what to do, especially when they show imaturity to handle their own problem. A frenchie living in the US.
  • WOW, here we go again, the US as THE moralistic nation thinks it has the obligation to punish other nations for their sins, and I would bet that the people that made the decision to for example sell Comanche (how ironic) helicopters to Turkey to help those guys kill some Kurs are exactly as ignorant as you are! Where did you get those infos? Rape not being a crime in Europe. What the hell are you talking about? I like the US very much, but it is those ignorant people as you that people in foreign countries hate so much and that I am so sick of. But I guess one of those guys will become president in November... Cheers George W Bush!
  • by Alex Belits ( 437 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @04:36PM (#1207174) Homepage

    If this weren't happening, the taxpayers should complain. How would it look if the director of the CIA had to tell a congressional commitee "Yes, we had the information that would have saved Boeing/General Motors/Lockheed but we couldn't pass it on because it was commercial"?

    It's against taxpayers' interest to support Boeing, General Motors or Lockheed -- every case where those companies lost their share in their markts increases the competition there thus making economy more healthy (or, less sick). US is not in war with any of the countries involved, they actually are allies in NATO, so there is no defense-related justification either

  • by Alex Belits ( 437 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @05:35PM (#1207175) Homepage

    Oh. And this really stopped the US's NATO allies from spying on it during the Cold War for the same reasons, didn't it?

    "it" -- what? US? NATO? Allies? job?

    Face it, the US is playing by the exact same set of rules as everyone else, and happens to be no better or no worse, and speaks from no higher and no lower a moral standpoint. If the US wasn't doing this, US companies would be torn to pieces by companies from countries that did do this, and vice versa.

    Other governments do industrial espionage for "their" companies? That's news to me. Governments constantly do military espionage and extend it to military-meaningful technologies for themselves (say, nuclear technology that is usually controlled by government, not companies), and they do industrial espionage when subjected to embargo for some kinds of non-military technology (this can be justified because they can't just buy products from abroad), but providing this kind of "service" to companies is something where civilized countries draw the line.

    (BTW, I wonder why US doesn't just elect companies for Congress and President -- they are "persons" under american laws that have "rights".)

    So unless there's an ENFORCABLE end put to this for everyone SIMULTANEOUSLY, I don't see this stopping anytime soon.

    Loss of credibility is enough to replace "enforcement" -- and it looks like just that can happen if US won't revise its "we rule the world, and our companies are above everything" policy. Fear, uncertainty and doubt work both ways.

  • by Sanity ( 1431 ) on Monday March 13, 2000 @01:54AM (#1207176) Homepage Journal
    The point here (at least the point for me) is that the UK has been collaborating with the US in this against its European neighbours. Although those on the right in the UK might hope to be closer to the US than to the more left-wing EU, this does not excuse this Judas behaviour.

    --

  • by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Monday March 13, 2000 @01:31AM (#1207177) Homepage
    This is THEFT. Industrial Espionage.

    I have to disagree. If someone broadcasts sensitive information and it gets intercepted, I wouldn't call that theft. If the information is sensitive, it should be encrypted and/or routed over hard line. Although the cellular telephone and satellite TV industries would disagree with me, I believe that everyone has the right to receive, demodulate and decrypt any radio frequency signal that passes through their airspace. All digital phones (GSM, TDMA, CDMA) should be using strong encryption to protect the privacy of the user.

  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @05:30PM (#1207178)
    How would the US be created if the european wouldn't have discovered it?

    Give me a fscking break. America had been settled for 15,000 years by Asians before the Europeans arrived.

    The first thing the Europeans did on arriving is export genocide, and wipe out native civilizations. Their explorers (DeSoto, Pizarro, etc.) were in fact just a bunch of butchering theives.

  • by McFarlane ( 23995 ) on Monday March 13, 2000 @07:48AM (#1207179)
    British/Canadian incursions?!?

    Ummm, I believe you're referring to the war of 1812.
    If you will check any reliable source you'd quickly discover that it was America that invaded the Canadian colonies at that time. That was our "war of independence". Independence from America. If the white house got burned down it was hardly an "incursion" if the burning-down-type-people were trying to stop their homeland being wiped off the map by said Americans.

    Also, re: French-speakers in the southern U.S. - They are the remnants of French settlement and (forced re-settlement (of the Acadians)) long pre-dating the United States. Nothing to do with French fighting a (as yet non-existent U.S.) America later acquired that territory through the Louisiana Purchase. (hint: no fighting French people involved)

  • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @05:39PM (#1207180) Homepage Journal
    Oh, so because the world isn't a nice place, we should violate our own rules? I suppose I should be able to steal secrets from a corporate competitor, because it's in my company's best interests. I mean, why should we obey the law, be it our law, foreign law, or international law, when our government can break it, and claim moral superiority for doing it?

    I suppose you think the people who steal American secrets for foriegn interests have the moral high ground too. They're acting in the best interests of their chosen nation.
  • by garver ( 30881 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @07:09PM (#1207181)

    we should violate our own rules?

    Are you implying that the laws the US government sets for its citizens apply when dealing with foreign countries? What color is the sky in your world?

    The laws of a country apply only on that country's soil. If you break them, that country prosecutes you by their laws. Simple. And who says a country shouldn't be able to break laws if it is willing to accept the penalties when caught? I break the law every day, speeding to work, and am willing to pay the ticket when caught.

    Espionage is a part of the world we live in, unless every country suddenly and voluntarily gives it up. Otherwise, if you want to compete, you gotta do it. Imagine if around 1960, the US had given up all of its nukes, leaving the USSR with the nuclear advantage, simply because nukes were bad.

  • by Malcontent ( 40834 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @08:35PM (#1207182)
    Using taxpayers money to spy and then passing that informations on to private corporations is wrong.

    Multinational companies owe no alliegance to the US they have shown over and over that they are willing to screw over the american citizens and go chase cheaper slave labor overseas. They have their own money to spend. Hell most multinationals have a greater GNP then a lot of nations.
  • by rambone ( 135825 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @04:02PM (#1207183)
    This type of espionage has been going on for years, starting with the passing of secrets to military contractors on both sides of the iron curtain.

    The French in particular are notorious for carrying on these types of operations.

  • by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @04:30PM (#1207184) Homepage
    Of course American corporations would never stoop to bribery, or buying politicians and of course due to their high code of ethics and morals, the government needs to help these good people out.
  • by LizardKing ( 5245 ) on Monday March 13, 2000 @01:29AM (#1207185)
    France has fought against the US - remember that in certain parts of the Southern United States people still speak a dialect based on French. French troops also fought against the US in the disputed regions of Mexico and Texas.

    French Canadians may also have fought against the US. My knowledge of the history of Canada is hazier than that of the US, so I can only recall the Canadian/British incursions into the US (which famously resulted in the burning of the Whitehouse).

    Regardless, your inference that CIA spying is acceptable simply because the US has been at war with those countries in the distant past - what kind of justification is that? You sound like a George Bush Jr voter to me. This kind of xenophobic bullshit is redolent of the 1920's when the US retreated into isolationaism, leaving the League of Nations without a very important member state ...

    This narrow view that US interests both economically and politically should take precedence over all else is dangerous. The often partisan nature of US foreign policy has resulted in tragedies like the bombing of US embassies by Islamic extremists. Unless the US adopts a more ethical worldview it is going to become a pariah nation. An economy based on espionage (and you want to look at US national debt before making assumptions about how strong it currently is) will not result in long term security. The globalisation of economics, and incredible amount of US econimic concerns that are foreign owned means that the US is only viable as long as it doesn't alienate foreign capital. Upsetting entities like the European Union, India and Russia will not help.

    Many in the US like to scoff at the notion that countries like India and Russia are threats to US economic security - but in the long term these countries have more economic potential than the US. They may be 'late starters', but they can avoid the teething troubles of older high-tech economies like those in the US and UK. If they begin to realise their economic potential then the US is going to become marginalised ... something that regularily threatens to happen in the UK as well. The xenophobic jingoism of US politicians is readily apparent in the right wing of UK politics - and it's clear that nationalist bullshit ("save the pound", "no to Europe") is just short-term attempts to win political power at the expense of long-term economic stability.


    Chris Wareham
  • by philg ( 8939 ) on Monday March 13, 2000 @05:06AM (#1207186)

    "A corporation is not a human being, I'm not trying to hold it to an ethical standard, I just have no respect for that kind of business"

    Corporations are held to be equivalent to human beings in the eyes of the law -- why can't we hold them to an ethical standard?

    There are two corrupt entities at work here -- the government that did this (yay, American democracy) and the companies who have received this intelligence willingly (yay, capitalism). Moreover, consider that the companies, having received this intelligence, reward the politicians who administer government with huge campaign contributions.

    IMO, anyone who really wants to see this stopped has a few things they really, really need to do:

    • Show your displeasure with the stranglehold big business has on us. Buy locally, even if it is more expensive (assuming you can afford it). We can't boycott large corporations -- they're too pervasive. We can make holes in their profitability, though.
    • Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote.
    • Seriously re-evaluate the political parties and politicians most in bed with these people. That means considering casting your vote for third parties. Only kooks inhabit third parties? Consider that more reasonable candidates will come along if non-traditional parties seem more viable. (Besides, have you noticed how many kooks there are in the two major parties?)

    The parties in power have shown that their contributors are more important to them than angry constituents, unless the angry constituents compose a voting block they can't neutralize with money. We can change that, but only by performing our duties as citizens to keep government honest.

    phil

  • by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Monday March 13, 2000 @08:19AM (#1207187) Homepage
    So, by analogy, if you're so lax as to leave your bike unsecured, I should be entitled to steal it?

    No, the bicycle is a physical object and stealing it would deprive you of its use.

    What if you live on top of a hill overlooking a town. Phone service being too expensive, you use semaphore flags [lancs.ac.uk] to communicate with your friend who lives in the town. Should it be illegal for other townspeople to look at the top of the hill? Or maybe we should ban telescopes and binoculars?

  • by costas ( 38724 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @07:21PM (#1207188) Homepage
    I am not surprised by the fact that the US intelligence agencies perform industrial espionage. What appals me is the self-congratulating excuse that the US has to do it because European companies are not good enough to win contracts on their own merits, so they have to stoop to bribery.

    I am European... I've worked and lived in the US. I've also lived and worked in Europe. I've been close enough to billion-dollar contracts to have an idea what's going on. For anyone to claim that somehow US corporations are the keepers of corporate morality in the international marketplace is ridiculous...

    So, does anybody out there remember what the term "Banana Republic" actually meant before it became a clothing store? Does anyone remember what the greatful Saudis did after the end of the Gulf War? Mayhaps they went ahead and bought a buncha F-15s? didn't they also let Boeing have a huge contract of airliners for the state-owned airline?

    Now, I ain't saying that somehow American companies are better or worse than British, French or Dutch ones; but to claim that they are indeed so much so more moral as to justify these actions (regardless of the fact that really everybody does it) is absurd.


    engineers never lie; we just approximate the truth.
  • by ATKeiper ( 141486 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @04:09PM (#1207189) Homepage
    This is being blown all out of proportion! I can't stand all the irrational spy-bashing that's been going on lately. Intelligence collection is not evil, but America's anti-secret, anti-disagreement attitude (combined with, of course, the real history of abuses by the intelligence community) has made us all lose sight of the incredible importance of intelligence collection.

    Collecting economic intelligence is completely understandable - after all, economic crises are an incredible threat to the U.S. Collecting economic intelligence makes perfect sense; it can help us prepare for and manage economic catastrophe long before it happens.

    Keep in mind that most of the information is OSINT (open source intelligence), and not intelligence obtained by spying. To quote the article: "Whether economic or military, most US intelligence data came from open sources, [Woolsey] said. But 'five percent is essentially secrets that we steal. We steal secrets with espionage, with communications, with reconnaissance satellites.'

    The five percent he's talking about is the five percent of intelligence collected overall.

    Let's get this straight: industrial espionage is illegal, and it does not happen. A huge part of the reason it is forbidden is that since business is international now, half the time you think you're helping an "American" business, you're actually helping a business abroad.

    Illegal industrial espionage is produced for private businesses, but legal economic espionage is for policymakers. There are reasons of practice and politics and law and ethics that prohibit the U.S. from committing industrial espionge.

    Meanwhile industrial espionage is committed by other countries - including Russia, China, France and Japan.

    And, in case you're wondering, the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 makes industrial espionage against U.S. companies illegal. It used to be illegal in some states, but now the theft of trade secrets is illegal throughout the U.S.

    A. Keiper
    The Center for the Study of Technology and Society [tecsoc.org]

  • by chazR ( 41002 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @04:03PM (#1207190) Homepage
    In most nations, intelligence organisations see it as their duty to act in the best interests of their nation.

    So if the NSA/CIA/whoever use intelligence information to help US corporations, why does everybody get self-righteous? If the successor to the KGB was doing this nobody would be surprised. I am sure that MOSSAD pass commercial information on to Israeli companies. The French make no secret of their intelligence forces doing it. I would be surprised if information from GCHQ never makes it's way into British company's hands.

    If this weren't happening, the taxpayers should complain. How would it look if the director of the CIA had to tell a congressional commitee "Yes, we had the information that would have saved Boeing/General Motors/Lockheed but we couldn't pass it on because it was commercial"?

    Stop believing that the world is a nice place, and grow up.
  • Moderators: My apologies, I'm not trying to start a flame war, but the fact that I get irate about this might influence my writing style. Try not to damage me too thoroughly. :)

    It's charming, it really is, that whenever a story like this comes out, dozens of self-proclaimed realists will fire off these "It happens, grow up people" posts, as though they are the grizzled old men in Heinlein books and CIA Movies that have seen all the corruption of the world and absorbed it all into their overpowering intellect.

    My take, and I openly acknowledge that it may be mine alone, is that looking for ethical behaviour in government is not utterly naive. Or moreover, that if it truly is, then our situation is a sad one, because I do not want to be represented by these people. Still, let's say for a moment that this corruption in government is inevitable, and that furthermore, the democratic process as it now stands has so much inertia that it will just plow on ahead, despite transgressions, I have another question:

    Why do the companies accept this? Is that what American business is about? Are these companies so hopelessly unoriginal that they need to profit from the spoils of the intelligence war? A corporation is not a human being, I'm not trying to hold it to an ethical standard, I just have no respect for that kind of business. And it saddens me to see how pathetic american industry has become.

    My apologies for the rant. It's cathartic for me, I guess. :)

    Johnath

  • by hypergeek ( 125182 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @04:05PM (#1207192)
    I find it disturbing however, that all this electronic espionage is being used for the sole benefit of the upper, shall we say, Echelon of society...

    On a more serious note, I think it's high time that people realized once and for all that U.S. spying is NOT to combat "terrorism" or whatnot, and realize that the privacy of hundreds of millions of people is being routinely violated.

    Millions of people, both in the US and abroad, should be screaming for universal encryption, instead of complacently fearing "terrorism", or whatever flavor of the week the mainstream media shove down their throats.

    Frankly, if I ran any of these European countries, you'd bet your ass that I'd immediately condemn this spying as a hostile act of aggression, and work out treaties with other nations explicitly naming any further spying as an act of war, and military alliances to give the treaties TEETH.

    But then again, the US is the BAMF of all nations, so it'll probably have its way, just like it always does.

    It's only a matter of time till the US stops being the policeman of the world, and starts being the police state of the world.

    --

  • by ATKeiper ( 141486 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @07:01PM (#1207193) Homepage
    The X-Files are over, so I can get back to Slashdot. Ah, how I love Sundays.

    First of all, others here on /. have been saying (as you and I both did) that many countries are involved in industrial espionage. This is true, and here's a 1998 report [nacic.gov] from the National Counterintelligence Center that lists some of the countries that perform industrial or economic espionage here in the U.S.

    Second, under U.S. law, no member of the U.S. intelligence community is permitted to pass secrets on to private businesses. That is not allowed. If it is happening, it must (by law) be stopped, and the people doing it must (by law) be punished.

    Now, let's take a moment to consider the sources. First, the person quoted in the article is former DCI James Woolsey. He left the CIA after two years on the job (1993-95), which were remarkable because they demonstrated huge clashes with Congress [time.com] - and the worst spy scandal in recent history, the Aldrich Ames case, which he completely mishandled. I think it would not be too difficult to say he's not the best source for revelations. His time away from the job have probably led him to be imprecise with words, and he likely said things he didn't quite mean.

    Second, who is the other source? The author of the article is Duncan Campbell, the man responsible - almost singlehandedly - for creating the furore over Echelon. He authored a few of the reports about Echelon, and seems to have something against the practice of collecting intelligence. He seems to enjoy fanning the flames of paranoia of the intelligence community, and sowing the seeds of discord between the U.S. and Europe. That is why, when you read the article [heise.de] we're discussing, he conflates and confuses economic and industrial espionage, two things which should be kept separate, and stresses Woolsey's remarks about Europe.

    In fact, the only line in the entire article where Woolsey says anything controversial - that the U.S. commits industrial espionage - is brief and offhand, and it sounds more like a confused ramble than a straightforward, direct admission: "Would [...] somebody do a technological analysis of something from a friendly country, which had no importance, other than a commercial use, and then let it sit on the shelf because it couldn't be given to the American company? I think that would be a misuse of the [intelligence] community's resources. I don't think it would be done."

    Finally, how is the intelligence community supposed to defend itself? They say they don't commit industrial espionage, but their critics will not accept that, nor any other level of assurance.

    A. Keiper

  • by myshka ( 143797 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @04:09PM (#1207194)
    Nothing on CNN, nothing on MSNBC. And so millions of shee^H^H^H^Hvoters will go on with their patriotic lives believing in the high ideals of American benevolence and the free market.

    Quite sad indeed.
  • by Quintus ( 147877 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @06:25PM (#1207195)
    What this comes down to is the clear opinion in the American espionage establishment that might makes right, and if they're not American owned they can roast, friendly or no.

    This is naturally a stance I and many others find offensive. What does it matter open info. vs. espionage, you've still got a bunch of unpleasant gov't intelligence types running around considering ways to aid American companies over British|French|Canadian|Japanese|S'African|Austral ian|Venezualan|etc. ones.

    The idea of this being largely about "bribery" strikes me as the thinnest zenophobic screen, an attempt to post-rationalize cowardly behaviour in the eyes of the public by making unprovable and unfair assertions about the relative merits of other cultures. Even if its true, if bribery went, tomorrow, would they stop spying tomorrow?

    The ultimate intent of the community, as evidenced by the question about a tech. breakthrough, is to aid Americans over the scary "Europeans". This disugusts me. Such a myopic, zenophobic, shallow, argument should disgust everyone.

    BTW, I can't defend France, but can anyone completely defend the actions of the U.S. (or anywhere 100% of the time) in its foreign policy? America is *good*, but not perfect, and probably not that much better than most other democracies. The same goes for bribery, I suppose we're going to ignore the American Tobacco Lobby for the time being, and quite how one of its members got itself involved in Tobacco racketeering in Canada? Or, perhaps our blind eye would be better used on the campaign trail? Or in the officer schools? Or in the plethora of QUANGOs associated w/ defence? Or with the fact that defence bidding, despite being open to at least Cdn companies, was (when Cdn. co.s were big enough to matter) cleverly tilted towards american bussiness, etc etc.

    I could enumerate an even greater number of good things the U.S. has done, but I'm not going too. (This post is too long and too politically dodgy already. ;-)

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