NSA: ECONOMIC ESPIONAGE, THE DIRTY AMERICAN GAMEBy Emmanuel Fanstan with Julian Assange
** In collaboration with WikiLeaks, Libération and Mediapart reveal how the NSA has spied on French commercial interests from 2002 on.
June 29, 2015
After political surveillance, economic espionage. The new documents published by WikiLeaks, in partnership with Libération and Mediapart, reveal the magnitude of the operations conducted by American intelligence agencies against French interests. Five summary reports by the National Security Agency (NSA) show that officials and diplomats were spied on between 2004 and 2012, notably Pierre Moscovici and François Baroin when they headed the ministry of the economy. That it was a strategic offensive appears in one secret document that states what goals the U.S. prioritizes in the economic realm. Dubbed "France: Economic Developments" and dated 2012, the note lays out NSA doctrine in this area. It aims to collect all pertinent information about French commercial practices, relations between Paris and international financial institutions, the approach to questions linked to the G8 or G20, and any big foreign contracts in which France is involved. This last point, one of the most sensitive, is detailed in a subsection entitled "Foreign Contracts -- Feasibility Studies -- Negotiations." It's about gathering all possible information about sizable contracts involving French companies, particularly those exceeding $200 million. These revelations risk casting a pall on the negotiations over TAFTA, the free-trade treaty betwen Europe and the United States, whose next round is planned for mid-July in Brussels. Most of the strategic sectors are targeted by the NSA: information technology, electricity, natural gas, oil, nuclear, transport, biotechnology, etc. All the information gathered is then shared with the principal government units: Homeland Security, Commerce, Energy, Defense, the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, and even the command of American forces in Europe. Never has proof of massive economic espionage on France, orchestrated at the highest level of the American government, been so clearly established.
PRIVATE AND PUBLIC SECTORS
This is what Julian Assange was referring to when speaking on the TF1 8:00 p.m. news broadcast after the first salvo of revelations. "Unemployment is particularly high, but there is a reason for that," the founder of WikiLeaks said, cryptically. "It's because the United States has been playing dirty." How far does the NSA's spying on French companies go? According to the Agence nationale de sécurité des systèmes d'information (ANSSI ['National Agency for the Security of Information Systems'], about one hundred French businesses fit the criteria set forth by the NSA, including virtually every member of the CAC 40. Most of them are classed "OVI" (Operators of Vital Importance), since their activity is considered strategic for the nation. The list of these businesses, which is classified, covers both the public and the private sector, and includes energy, water management, health, and telecommunications. According to ANSSI, the OVIs are the target of at least one major attack a week. Since the Russians, the Chinese, and the Israelis are equally agressive in this area, where intrusions are coming from is often hard to determine. But in recent years, American fingerprints have been formally identified several times. Last year the documents revealed by Edward Snowden thus proved that several European businesses, including Airbus, had been spied on by the NSA with the help of the BND, the German intelligence agency. At the time, Paris said nothing. Airbus, on the other hand, has just initiated a lawsuit 'against X' charging espionage.
In highly strategic sectors, this spying can range from the simple theft of studies to stealing confidential technological data. But intelligence on contract bids involving American companies is what interests the NSA above all. This can represent a competitive advantage that is potentially disastrous for French companies. All the more so in that part of the information collected by the Americans is also shared with its closest allies: Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Since the beginning of the Cold War these "Five Eyes" support each other, using the "Echelon" program, a global interception network erected under the aegis of the United States whose existence was only revealed in 1998. After the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the satellite antennas that were no longer used to spy on the Russians were mobilized to win the economic war. An entity was even specially created to support American companies seeking to win big international contracts: the Advocacy Center, charged with linking the private sector with state agencies. This strategic offensive took on an obsessive, industrial character after the September 11 attacks. From 2002 on (date of the first "expression of need"), the American administration realized that the colossal means of interception and surveillance deployed in the struggle against terrorism were vastly larger than their targets. Under cover of counter-terrorism, the NSA then became the U.S.'s weapon in the economic war. A war in which France appears to be entirely outmatched. "The Americans' strength is to put all their agencies in the loop, whereas in France, economic espionage is taboo," explains Alain Juillet, former intelligence director at the DGSE. "Today, our intelligence services only do counter-intelligence. As for offensive spying, we are light-years behind the Americans." A doctrinal difference that seems to be under review. In France, the new law on surveillance grants new powers to intelligence services, and agents will now be authorized to act for the "promotion of economic and industrial interests" of the nation. Will they be allowed to spy on American businesses?
Translated by Mark K. Jensen
Associate Professor of French
Department of Languages and Literatures
Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, WA 98447-0003
Home page: www.plu.edu/~jensenmk/