NSA spied on 2010 G8, G20 summits in Toronto with Canadian help


November 28, 2013

The National Security Agency conducted widespread surveillance during the 2010 G8 and G20 summits with the blessing of host country Canada’s government.

Documents supplied by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show the US converted its Ottawa embassy into a security command for six days in June 2010 as world leaders met in Toronto. The covert operation was known to Canadian authorities, CBC News reported.

The documents do not reveal targets of the espionage by the NSA – and possibly by its counterpart, the Communications Security Establishment of Canada (CSEC). The NSA briefing notes say the operation was “closely co-ordinated with the Canadian partner.”

Ultimately, the documents obtained by the CBC do not give exact specifications of CSEC’s role, if any, in the Toronto spying. Former Guardian reporter and Snowden’s chosen journalist to receive the NSA documents, Glenn Greenwald, co-wrote the story for CBC.

But the documents do spell out that CSEC’s cooperation in the venture was crucial to ensuring access to telecommunications systems needed to spy on targets during the summits.

Both NSA and CSEC were implicated, along with British counterpart GCHQ, for monitoring phone calls and email of foreign leaders and diplomats at the 2009 G20 summit in London. In addition, it was recently reported that CSEC hacked into phones and computers at the Brazilian government’s department of mines. These revelations also came via documents from Snowden, who has received asylum in Russia.

The revelations also contradict a statement made by an NSA spokesman to The Washington Post on August 30, which said that the US Department of Defense – of which the NSA is is part of – “does not engage in economic espionage in any domain, including cyber.”

The NSA briefing document says the operational plan at the 2010 summit included “providing support to policymakers.

The Toronto summit was chocked full of major economic issues following the 2008 recession. Measures like the eventually-nixed global bank tax were strongly opposed by the US and Canadian governments. Further banking reform, international development, countering trade protectionism and other issues were on the docket – and on NSA’s list of main agenda items in the aim of supporting “US policy goals.”

The partnerships by some Western spying arms at the Toronto and London summits, not to mention other stories that have come out based on the Snowden documents, call attention once again to the “Five Eyes” surveillance coalition among Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US.


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NSA Dragnet: Snowden Leak Reveals Mass Spying During G8, G20 Summits

US may have illegally monitored foreign dignitaries as well as wider population

Steve Watson
Nov 28, 2013

The latest revelation to come from the Edward Snowden leaks highlights how the NSA conducted a mass spying exercise with the co-operation of Canadian authorities during international meetings in order to further certain policy goals.

In a report by The Canadian Broadcasting Company, it is revealed that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government colluded with the NSA during the 2010 G8 and G20 summits in Toronto.

Documents marked “Top Secret,” highlight how the US embassy in Ottawa was transformed into a spy centre compound for a week as president Obama met with 25 foreign dignitaries and leaders.

The NSA was aided by its Canadian counterpart, the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC).

While the documents do not specifically state who the target of the huge operation was, it is thought that the exercise is most likely a repeat of what occurred in Britain just a few months earlier during the 2009 G20 summit in London. There, as other NSA leaks have revealed, the U.S. and Canadian intelligence agencies, along with Britain’s GCHQ are said to have hacked the phone calls and emails of multiple foreign politicians and diplomats.

The document pertaining to the Toronto summit states that the NSA’s goal was, at least in part, “providing support to policymakers” at the meetings, namely providing what would have been private information to the Canadian and US leaders in order to give them an advantage during negotiations and debates.

The documents once again highlight how the NSA surveillance dragnet extends beyond simply protecting against security threats, and has become a commonplace tool for the US government and its allies, The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The so called “Five Eyes” have had a surveillance agreement dating back to the 1950s, it was only revealed to have existed in 2005.

If true, the latest revelations would once again show how the NSA and its partner spy agencies are routinely breaking the law. Under Canadian law, a warrant must be issued in order for the government to conduct covert surveillance on anyone, including foreign visitors. Foreign spy agencies also do not have jurisdiction on Canadian soil.

“If CSEC tasked NSA to conduct spying activities on Canadians within Canada that CSEC itself was not authorized to take, then I am comfortable saying that would be an unlawful undertaking by CSEC,” says Craig Forcese, an expert in national security at University of Ottawa’s faculty of law.

“[The CSEC is] undermining democracy here at home, while deeply damaging Canada’s international reputation as a fair and honest partner,” said Steve Anderson, executive director of OpenMedia.ca, a Canadian civil liberties group.

The US government has refused to comment. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office has also refused to comment, citing national security.

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