Recent Items

EU Demands Explanations for US Spying, Threatens Data Pacts and Trade Deal

Posted on by

Oh, this is getting to be fun!

The lead story at the Financial Times tonight is about how the European Union is threatening to suspend two data sharing agreements with the US. The pink paper also adds that this row has the potential to undermine the EU-US trade negotiations which are set to start next week (we speculated a few days ago that this might come to pass). On our side of the pond, so far only the Wall Street Journal has weighted in, with a cheery headline U.S.-EU Trade Talks on Track Despite Spy Fears which is narrowly accurate since the trade negotiations have not been rescheduled but seems to understate the degree of unhappiness and ire.

The interesting question is how and why has this row escalated now? Mind you, the Eurocrats do have a lot to be angry about. Remember, the US was caught spying on EU officials. Der Speigel released information from Edward Snowden that charged that the NSA had bugged the European Union’s offices in Washington and the UN and hacked into their computers (which enabled them to monitor meetings) and targeted other missions.

If you remember, this story broke shortly before a G8 meeting in Dublin. Obama got the cold shoulder. The European officials appear to have cornered the Americans. This AFP story ran June 14, while the summit was underway:

The United States has agreed to share information with the European Union about its huge Internet and phone surveillance programme, a senior EU official said today.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom and Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding secured the agreement from US Attorney General Eric Holder after talks with the American official in Dublin, Malmstrom said.

“Agreed with the US in Dublin to set up a transatlantic expert group to receive more info on PRISM and look at the safeguards,” Malmstrom said on Twitter, without elaborating…

The EU and US officials were meeting as part of already scheduled ministerial talks in the Irish capital.

The move comes days after the EU demanded answers from Holder and warned of a “grave” threat to the rights of European citizens from the intelligence programme.

As I am reading between the lines of the two FT stories tonight, US agrees to talks with EU on surveillance, and Brussels threatens to suspend data sharing with US in spying row, the Administration may be even more on the back foot that it appears. (I welcome input from readers of the European press, particularly those who have a good handle for how the EU deals with the governments of member states over jurisdictional issues).

On July 1, TechWeekEurope reported that (hat tip Lambert):

Free trade talks are due to start next week between the US and Europe, and Brussels officials have been hinting that the snooping allegations will throw a spanner in the works….

Even before the revelations of spying on the European authorities, the European Commission was already very concerned about US activities, according to a statement sent to TechWeekeurope: “We have seen the media reports and we are of course concerned for possible consequences on EU citizens’ privacy. For the moment it is too early to draw any conclusion or to comment further,” said home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

So if EU official were fulminating to the media, they had almost certainly been making unhappy noises through official channels too.

On Wednesday July 3, the EU threw a bomb. Notice the timing; they had to know this was before a major US holiday, but must have been completely frustrated by the lack of responsiveness of the US in light of the pending trade negotiations (as in they were not about to give up a huge bargaining chip, but the US was apparently going to try to keep the negotiations on schedule). I’m providing this speech in full because I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen a reprimand like this between allies (emphasis theirs):

Screen shot 2013-07-05 at 12.12.04 AM

Plenary Session of the European Parliament/Strasbourg

3 July 2013

MAIN MESSAGES

1/ On the NSA spying allegations:

It is a matter of mutual trust and good practices in relations between friends and allies. It is clear that for negotiations on the trade agreement with the US to succeed, there needs to be confidence, transparency and clarity among the negotiating partners. This excludes spying on EU institutions.

2/ On the US PRISM programme:

The purpose [of the transatlantic working group] is to establish the facts and for the Commission to be able to assess the proportionality of the programmes with regard to the data protection of EU citizens.

The US appears to take our concerns regarding PRISM seriously. Attorney General Eric Holder committed, in a letter to me yesterday, to set up the expert group. We spoke yesterday evening on the phone and we agreed that the group will have its first meeting this month, and a second one in Washington in September. The Commission will report about the findings of the group to Parliament and Council in October.

3/ On the UK’s TEMPORA programme:

The message is clear: the fact that the programmes are said to relate to national security does not mean that anything goes. A balance needs to be struck between the policy objective pursued and the impact on fundamental rights, in particular the right to privacy. It is a question of proportionality.

As regards next steps, we will continue the discussion with the UK on the Tempora project.

4/ On the EU’s data protection reform:

PRISM and Tempora are a wake-up call for us to advance on our data protection reform for both the private and the public sector. A strong framework for data protection is neither a constraint nor a luxury but a necessity.

Various elements of the reform are of particular relevance. It will clarify the territorial application of the law, including to companies operating in the EU. It will have a broad definition of personal data. It will clarify regime for international transfers. It will impose obligations and responsibilities on processors as well as controllers of data.

[I]t has become urgent to proceed on a solid piece of legislation. Any delay in the data protection reform only plays in the hands of those who do not share the objective of a high level of data protection.

SPEECH

The news over the past weeks and days has been deeply disturbing. Revelations, claims and counter-claims have been made at a dizzying speed. This debate is a useful opportunity to explain the different strands of the issue and to make sense of what the EU can do to address the situation.

I believe that we should carefully distinguish between two aspects to the problem. The first concerns international diplomatic relations. The second concerns the rights of EU citizens.

As regards the first matter of alleged spying on EU and EU Member States’ diplomatic premises, the Commission has raised its serious concerns with the US. Yesterday, the President made a statement to this House in the context of the debate on the European Council Conclusions. The issue was also discussed by Vice-President Ashton directly with State Secretary Kerry. It is a matter of mutual trust and good practices in relations between friends and allies.

It is clear that for negotiations on the trade agreement with the US to succeed, there needs to be confidence, transparency and clarity among the negotiating partners. This excludes spying on EU institutions.

The second issue, related to the right of EU citizens, was debated here one month ago. I am happy to update you on latest developments.

In relation to the revelations on the PRISM programme and the Verizon case, I asked a series of questions in a letter to my US counterpart, Attorney-General Eric Holder, on 10 June. I have also spoken with him at the EU-US Justice Ministerial on 14 June in Dublin.

I raised our concerns regarding the impact of Verizon and PRISM on the fundamental rights of EU citizens. I asked for clarifications on the different levels of protection that apply to US and EU citizens. And I asked about the conflict companies can find themselves in when they are faced with competing obligations under US and EU law.

Some explanations for which I am awaiting written confirmation were given. But all questions have not been answered so far. This is why after the Ministerial I have written again, together with my colleague Cecilia Malmström, to our US counterpart asking for answers in particular on the volume of the data collected, the scope of the programmes and the judicial oversight for Europeans.

At the Ministerial in Dublin, we agreed with the US to set up a transatlantic group of experts to establish the facts surrounding these programmes. The purpose is to establish the facts and for the Commission to be able to assess the proportionality of the programmes with regard to the data protection of EU citizens.

The US appears to take our concerns regarding PRISM seriously. Attorney General Eric Holder committed, in a letter to me yesterday, to set up the expert group. We spoke yesterday evening on the phone and we agreed that the group will have its first meeting this month, and a second one in Washington in September. The Commission will report about the findings of the group to Parliament and Council in October.

At the EU-US Ministerial, I called once again for the conclusion of the negotiations for an EU-US Umbrella Agreement on data transfer for law enforcement purposes. An agreement that would guarantee equal treatment of EU and US citizens when their data is processed for law enforcement purposes. I urged my US counterpart to take the necessary steps to ensure real progress.

In response to media reports about the UK Tempora Programme, I have addressed a letter to Foreign Secretary William Hague and asked to clarify the scope of the programme, its proportionality and the extent of judicial oversight that applies.

The message is clear: the fact that the programmes are said to relate to national security does not mean that anything goes. A balance needs to be struck between the policy objective pursued and the impact on fundamental rights, in particular the right to privacy. It is a question of proportionality.

As many of you said in our last debate in June, programmes such as PRISM and Tempora are a wake-up call for us to advance on our data protection reform for both the private and the public sector.

A strong framework for data protection is neither a constraint nor a luxury but a necessity. It will help reverse the trend of falling trust in the way in which data is handled by companies to which it is entrusted.

That’s why our proposed reform is an important part of the answer. It will maintain the current high level of data protection in the EU by updating citizens’ rights, guaranteeing they know when their privacy has been violated and making sure that when their consent is required, the consent is real.

Various elements of the reform are of particular relevance. It will clarify the territorial application of the law, including to companies operating in the EU. It will have a broad definition of personal data. It will clarify regime for international transfers. It will impose obligations and responsibilities on processors as well as controllers of data.

Only a strong data protection regime can bring this trust both for EU citizens and for businesses and contribute to stability and growth of the digital economy. And trust is also the basis for EU-US cooperation in the field of law enforcement.

As many of you said in June, it has become urgent to proceed on a solid piece of legislation. Any delay in the data protection reform only plays in the hands of those who do not share the objective of a high level of data protection.

The whole world is watching us on this. And the debate on PRISM and similar programmes only reinforces that we have a chance to set a gold standard for data protection.

As regards next steps, we will continue the discussion with the UK on the Tempora project.

Together with the Presidency, we have started the discussion on the transatlantic expert group which will include experts from Member States. Based on the information gathered, the Commission will report back to the European Parliament and to the Council in October.

To underscore the seriousness of this speech, the EU Parliament voted on July 4 supporting the European Commission should it “wish” to suspend the data sharing agreements at issue with the US (see here for details) From ZDNet (h/t furzy mouse via DSWright).

This as a defacto pre-authorization. And the consequences would not be trivial:

Should the Commission decide it necessary to suspend the data sharing agreement of passenger details — including personal and sensitive individual data — it could ultimately lead to the grounding of flights between the EU and the U.S.

The Parliament also approved launching investigations into the surveillance of Europeans by the NSA.

Now let’s read the FT articles with this in the back of our minds. First, it provides some tidbits as to why the EU is even more ripshit than it otherwise might be. The EU approved the data sharing provisions only with reluctance and after top level arm-twisting (and one assumes reassurances):

Access to such information was considered so vital to the US that three years ago Joseph Biden, the vice-president, and Hillary Clinton, then-secretary of state, made a rare visit to Brussels to persuade EU lawmakers to back the deal.

And indeed, Obama prior to the July 3 dressing down did not seem to be taking the EU upset very seriously:

Earlier in the week, Mr Obama sought to play down the allegations by suggesting that most countries conducted similar forms of espionage, including on allies and partners.

“Every intelligence service, not just ours, but every European intelligence service, every Asian intelligence service, wherever there’s an intelligence service, there’s one thing they’re going to be doing: they’re going to be trying to understand the world better and what’s going on in capitals around the world from sources that aren’t available through the New York Times or NBC News,” he said.

So what happens after the EU escalates the row? He calls Merkel, who, remember, is not an EU official and offer mere “parallel” discussions of security matters. Why don’t we call it “dual tracking” instead? Or as Lambert said, it’s like being the boyfriend presented with evidence of cheating but wanting to pretend everything is fine so he can buy that nice big house with his girlfriend. More from the FT:

The Obama administration has offered “parallel discussions” on its spying operations on Europeans alongside high-profile trade talks due to start on Monday, according to the president of Lithuania, holder of the EU’s rotating presidency.

Dalia Grybauskaite said the EU was sent a letter by Eric Holder, the US attorney-general, detailing the offer “targeting” a start date of Monday, the same day the first round of EU-US trade talks are due to begin. Ms Grybauskaite said she was given a copy of the letter by José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission.

She said it followed a phone call between President Barack Obama and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, on Wednesday in which the offer was discussed….

In Wednesday’s phone call with Ms Merkel, president Obama said that he “takes seriously the concerns of our European allies and partners”, according to the White House.

If I were at the EU, I’d be even angrier. Obama calls Merkel apparently in the hope she can muscle the EU. And they’ve only sent the EU, the party with the dog in this fight, a letter?

Germany exercises tons of sway on matters related to bailouts of periphery countries due to their checkbook, but I doubt they have the same clout on this issue. And the EU is on the austerity bandwagon, so they and Germany are largely on the same page on that front. Here, Merkel has been suspiciously quiet even though the Der Speigel disclosures have Germany in an uproar. You’d think Merkel would want to get on or at least fake being on the bandwagon until the September elections were past; her “say as little as possible and hope this blows over” posture suggests she is either awfully keen to curry favor with the US or feels she is at risk. (The FT points out that even the key pro-US German politicians are making harsh public statements).

Oh, and France’s Hollande, who called the US spying “unacceptable” hasn’t gotten a phone call from Obama. But he might now be busy with his own little spying scandal. The Guardian reports on Le Monde’s bombshell:

France runs a vast electronic surveillance operation, intercepting and stocking data from citizens’ phone and internet activity, using similar methods to the US National Security Agency’s Prism programme…

An investigation by the French daily found that the DGSE, France’s external intelligence agency, had spied on the French public’s phone calls, emails and internet activity. The agency intercepted signals from computers and phones in France as well as between France and other countries, looking not so much at content but to create a map of “who is talking to whom”, the paper said.

Le Monde said data from emails, text messages, phone records, accessing of Facebook and Twitter, and internet activity going through sites such as Google, Microsoft or Yahoo! was stocked for years on vast servers on three different floors in the basement of the DGSE headquarters.

The paper described the vast spying programme as secret, “outside any serious control” and illegal.

The metadata from phone and internet use was stocked in a “gigantic database” which could be consulted by six French intelligence and security agencies as well as the police.

The paper said Bernard Barbier, technical director of the DGSE, had previously described the system as “probably the biggest information centre in Europe after the English”.

Referring to the system as a “French Big Brother”, Le Monde said the French state was able to use the surveillance “to spy on anybody at any time”. The paper wrote: “All of our communications are spied on.”

Le Monde said that after Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s Prism surveillance programme prompted indignation in Europe, France “only weakly protested, for two excellent reasons: Paris already knew about it, and it was doing the same thing”.

When revelations about the Prism programme harvesting citizens’ data emerged, the French government did not immediately comment. But after fresh allegations about the US spying on the European Union and foreign embassies, including the French embassy in Washington, the president, François Hollande, said these practices must “cease immediately”. France demanded the suspension of talks on the EU-US free trade pact until it had received full explanations about surveillance.

If France can be believed, it may hold the moral high ground in one small respect: it says it didn’t spy on the US embassy in Paris.

But back to Obama. He’s in trouble with the EU and he calls only Merkel? If you have someone upset with you (particularly an institutional someone), you go and make a gesture of calming ruffled feathers, even if the resulting conversation is remarkably devoid of substance. You make a ritual acknowledgment that they are upset and they matter enough that you will do something about it (that “something” to be determined). That does not mean it needs to be Obama but it needs to be somebody pretty senior just from a protocol standpoint and then you turn it over to the juniors to schedule meetings. Does Obama believe he’s in charge of the biggest superpower and no one is gonna dare look too hard at the security state apparatus? Does he assume he can just treat this as a mere problem of optics? He seems to think he can ramrod his pet trade deal through over the EU’s dead body, which is a completely bizarre given that this is not a multilateral deal, but an EU-US pact. François Heisbourg of the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique noted in the FT right before the July 3 EU dressing down that this deal was on the rocks:

As a consequence, the prospects for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership may be irreparably damaged. The timing is perfect for a debacle of great economic and political proportions. Discussions on TTIP are supposed to begin this week. Politically, the EU-US symbolism of the deal is now harder to sell. In substantive terms, TTIP would necessarily include data exchange and protection regimes – a difficult issue made potentially intractable given what we now know of America’s wholesale approach to data acquisition. Finally, there is a legitimate EU concern that its negotiators would be spied upon by the NSA without the US delegates suffering the same disadvantage.

The best that can be hoped for at this stage is that TTIP will be used by the Europeans as leverage for securing tangible assurances from the US regarding the downscaling of elements of NSA activities directed against Europe. All in all, one must wonder who in Washington decided that it was in the US interest to risk compromising such an enterprise for the dubious joys of eavesdropping on the palavers of the eurocracy.

For the sake of completeness, we need to give you the Journal’s chipper reading:

In recent days, European officials had expressed concerns about the spying issue but said the trade talks shouldn’t be affected. The overall tone in Europe appeared calmer than early in the week, just after German weekly magazine Der Spiegel reported that the U.S. placed listening devices in EU offices in Washington, infiltrated computers there and electronically spied on EU bodies elsewhere.

I’m hoping savvy European readers will help calibrate. but the EU speech was hardly calm. And I don’t see the remarks from EU officials (as opposed to those of national leaders) as quite as comforting. The EU president said she “hoped” to separate the trade from the surveillance issues. Barroso, the head of the European Commission, tried to sound conciliatory without backing down on the data issues:

“We are committed to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, but we expect that in parallel we have work in the EU-U.S. working groups that will analyze the oversight of the intelligence activities, intelligence collection and also the question of privacy and data protection,” Mr. Barroso said in Berlin on Wednesday.

I suspect that factions within the EU are having a big slugfest, and the outcome is still in play.
As we’ve said earlier (see here and here) the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the TTIP would be terrible for ordinary Americans; they’s allow most regulations to be gutted as anti-competitive and are designed to produce a race to the bottom in terms of environmental, financial and labor market standards. So if the NSA disclosures wreck one of these deals, that alone would be cause for considerable cheer. Perhaps readers can find an 11th dimensional chess play here, but it looks from this remove that Obama is simply overplaying his hand and revealing himself to be a rube on the international front. The Europeans have caught out the Obama Administration in a Big Lie, and unlike ordinary Americans, they are in a position to retaliate. Whether they do remains to be seen, but if so, I hope we get to see some of the knifework.

Print Friendly
Twitter21DiggReddit0StumbleUpon0Facebook94LinkedIn1Google+0bufferEmail

59 comments

  1. Aussie F

    Washington expects the usual subordination from its EU vassal. However, national Parliaments and populations in Europe aren’t so enamoured of the sycophantic fawning. See below:

    http://21stcenturywire.com/2013/06/28/irish-mp-outs-obama-as-a-war-criminal-for-sending-arms-to-syria/

    This will probably evolve into a power struggle between the commission and the EU Parliament. A tactical defeat of the Parliament is the usual outcome, but it really depends on how much mobilsation occurs at the national level.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Going forward, I don’t think one can be pro-U.S. and win an election. Look at the UK, this is primary reason Labour lost, and Cameron’s majority is largely dependent on a party composed of the beneficiaries of a protest vote who are shocked to be there.

      The anti-U.S. element may not be able to put together a coalition on its own, but a coalition can’t be assembled without providing lip service.

    2. RBHoughton

      According to the article, the EU parliament has given the Commission a pre-advice of its support for whatever the Commission may decide on data sharing.

  2. nonclassical

    AmeriKan translation of European concern: “Americans appear (uneducated, in comparison) “unconcerned” with ramifications of Snowden revealed spying revelations…soooo, let’s reveal to the world how U.S. “capitalism” operates….

    1. Egmont Ouerveture

      Americans are only concerned if it can dance, sing, or father a baby with Kim Kardashian.

      Americans will have to fall MUCH farther apparently, before they become politically active as a population.

      My country is populated not with citizens, but merely with CONSUMERS.

  3. MIWill

    “The US appears to take our concerns regarding PRISM seriously. Attorney General Eric Holder committed, in a letter to me yesterday, to set up the expert group. We spoke yesterday evening on the phone and we agreed that the group will have its first meeting this month, and a second one in Washington in September. The Commission will report about the findings of the group to Parliament and Council in October.”

    Eric Holder commitment. A group. Experts. Report later.

    Heh

  4. Dino Reno

    Gotta love this kerfuffle. Technocrats everywhere are forced to look concerned while Goldman Sachs is in the background telling them all this too shall pass. Amerika gets an A for arrogance. Man of the People, Obama, reveals he has the world’s biggest tin ear but he still listens to everything said in private. No doubt he has a nice little blackmail file handy to quell many critics.

    1. nonclassical

      “blackmail file”-one involves Cheney I.T. operative Michael Connel, deposed one day prior to bushbama election.. was the operatchik who invented “vote shunting”, whereby Ohio, 2004, voting precinct votes were transferred to Tennessee repubLIEcon basement, “tabulated”, sent back to confirm bushit Ohio victory-Connel to summarily disappear in small aircraft flames (no body found)
      soon after:

      http://www.freeforall.tv/

      http://www.bradblog.com/?cat=403

      http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/02/15/bush-cheney-cyber-mans-air-crash-gets-spookier/

      http://www.democracynow.org/2008/12/22/republican_it_specialist_dies_in_plane

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

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kxtm5RF_6Ow
      …………………..

      important to know where the bodies lie…

  5. rob

    If only….

    It would be a rare kind of luck,good luck;if the snowden releases stopped something that for everyones good should be stopped.Any monkeywrench in the gears,is a good monkeywrench.It is not as if the american people are going to wake up any time soon.
    All the american people see is the smear job against snowden,and these trade deals don’t even exist in their eyes.

    If such a scenerio were to play out.Snowden would be a hero.
    literally

    I’m not holding my breath..but I can dream.

    1. RBHoughton

      I’m with you Rob. I think these purported trade deals may collapse if no satisfactory explanations and agreements can be reached.

      I’m not surprised to see all the imperial powers are up to no good.

      This would be a good chance to have some sort of global ‘truth and reconciliation’ congress, remind ourselves of how much we have to be thankful for and that all our wealth comes from the land which we presently value as zip in our economies.

  6. middle seaman

    As disgusting, useless and stupid as the US spying is, the EU reaction isn’t much better. It’s yet another one of those “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” The EU knows that spying is commonplace and the German, French and Brits do it too.

    The difference here are the scale and methods.

    1. Jackrabbit

      Wrong. The difference is intent.

      The Europeans are questioning whether they are partners or b*tches. I think they have already surmised the answer from Obama-Kerry-Rice’s attitude.

      As Yves all-but-said: pass the popcorn.

      1. Jim Haygood

        There is one and only one action that Europe could take to consolidate its sovereignty. That would be to expel the U.S. occupation troops which have remained on its soil for 68 years now. But of course, Europe isn’t going to jettison its U.S. defense subsidy.

        Given the unpleasant durability of the ossified status quo, Europe is indeed Obama’s bitch, and will be rudely bitch-slapped whenever and however he or his handlers think appropriate.

        1. minh

          What defense subsidy do you mean ? By any standard of independence, what Europe have now in relation to the US is kind of what Hongkongers have in relation to China. When Poland was part of Zwiazek Radziecki or the USSR, it wasn’t worst than that, the Polish troops were also in Czech to supress independent movement, and then later, after ’90, express regret about it, yeah, we weren’t independent, it was a Russian crime.

          In 1999 Poland joined NATO, in 2001 and 2003 they invaded Afghanistan and Iraq (in Iraq, not NATO) Aleksander Kwasniewski, Polish president during those fiasco, said in May, 2004 that we (the Poles) were midlead. That was short but public statement that most Western and Eastern media corporation cover in full.

          So now the NATO nations are afraid for the fate of its former leaders, as they may be called in to trials of war criminals, to be proven as fools and pimps for the US Big lie.

          If somehow because of Snowden access to the files of Pentagon or NSA, some footage of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon can be replayed on youtube, or some dossiers involve anthrax or nanothermite can be Wikileaked, a bunch of war criminals and high crime domestic criminal will see their day in court much sooner.

          That suspicion is why I guess China and Russia don’t wan’t to facilitate Snowden in his doing, and why the NATO nation have to violate international treaty to make sure no Snowden onboard that Morales flight.

      2. John

        Agree. When the users find out they are also the used they don’t like it one little bit.

        Who is Ed Snowdon?

        I don’t buy that he is a spook/patsie the US is using for some nefarous means to an evil end. Well, not since 1 month ago. Could they really convince him to take this world shocking revelation public and assure him he wouldn’t end up in a prison cell for the rest of his life? He doesn’t seem that stupid. And hat advantage does the US get from his spyinh revelations? Again, not buying that it’s a way to force Obama into a middle eastern war. But then again, there is always brainwashing isn’t there. And there are many forces that would do anything to get a reason to pass a patriot act on the internet.

        1. Kunst

          Snowden is that Chinese guy standing in front of the line of tanks in Tianamen Square. Wonder what ever happened to him.

  7. cth

    My bet is on American supremacy and exceptionalism prevailing and that this spying affair will pass with  little ripples. The fact is today, USA could walk over or thumb its nose at any country except may be Russia and China.

    1. tongorad

      Agreed. We’re living in a dark age of global unaccountable elites. Appreciate the effort Mr Snowden, but nothing will change. Hey, look over there – gay marriage, yay!

    2. H. Alexander Ivey

      I’ll take that bet. I think Snowden’s revelations will be this generation’s Watergate, the point when many people admit their gov’t and big businesses are working without contraints. So, no, your this-too-will-pass is wrong. Change takes time but the change point is Snowden.

      1. Cth

        Doesn’t look like any change is on the horizon.

        I just read 

        “The forced landing of the Bolivian president’s plane in Vienna has exposed European governments’ protests against massive surveillance by the US intelligence agency NSA as a sham…..

        Behind this attitude is more than simple servility and cowardice towards US imperialism. What connects the European governments with Washington is their common class interests….”

    3. Howard Beale IV

      They may: but only to the point that EU nations provide key information/resources to the MIC-at which point, fscking corporate interests because EU/US flights are grounded would prompt howls on both sides of the Atlantic, forcing both the US and their EU pawns to open the kimono just enough to placate the wolf at the door.

  8. Paul Walker

    The EU stand up to the USA? LOL

    Welcome to more hurrumphing on a grand scale for all the reality TV fans out there

  9. MIWill

    “We have seen the media reports and we are of course concerned for possible consequences on EU citizens’ privacy.”

    also:
    ‘Employees are our most valuable asset.’

  10. Synopticist

    I think it’s too early to tell what effect this will have, but the resistance to furthering trade talks will come from specifically EU bodies, rather than national governments. There all in the same boat after all, and likely have similar capabilities. There’s barely a major political party in Europe who’s senior members won’t have a very good idea about the extent and breadth of internet surveilance. Most of them have been in power in the last 10 years. It’s not like the Spanish socialists, or French conservatives, or Brit Labour party guys, can seriously claim they had no idea. Concievably the Italian left and Grillo’s lot could claim the moral high ground, but otherwise it’s a pretty small number of fringe parties.

    In the long term it will effect 2 different interest groups. It will be an extra argument for people opposed to the treaty, groups of which will be springing up as people slowly start to become aware of it’s implications.

    And secondly it will put off owners and investors of smaller companies who might otherwise be vaguely supportive, but get reminded again that benefits of free trade aren’t for the like of them, they’re only for the big boys. They get taxed and regulated, while mega corporations read their e-mails and operate tax free.

    It’s going to be a long process, and I don’t think this will be enough to stop it in it’s tracks, but it might slow it down a bit, and make it’s eventual defeat marginally more likely.

  11. sadness

    do they think that we’re all fools – they harp on about spying this and pacts that and then they go and stop Morales plane – huh? –

    oh they’re right, we are all fools… and they’re all Obamas, whoopee join the club, we’re loving it

  12. Jackrabbit

    What some seem to be missing here is this:

    Pervasive spying enables much more than a tactical advantage in negotiations or investigations. It allows for fundamentally compromising social structures over time as you can surreptitiously help advance those that have view that is sympathetic with your interests.

    The Europeans are not dumb and will most certainly understand that if they were to allow this to continue, they (further!) jeopardize their independence and sovereignty. Hey, why not just adopt the dollar?

    1. nonclassical

      ….yup-the dollar-euro battle for basis of international monetary system…

  13. b2020

    This is all kabuki. The European governments have known for decades (Echelon) that the NSA has used UK-based facilities for plain industrial espionage against NATO “allies”, and hae done nothing. Merkel is playing by the same book of domestic BS that Obama uses. Everybody involved knows that international agreements are needed to protect citizens from foreign data dragnets by nations that have physical access to Internet backbones and/or provide integrated technology for communication satellites. Everybody knows that international agreements are worthless if certain indispensable nations will not adhere to them, and there is no enforcement.

    Jakob Augstein – an intellectual holdover from the original SPIEGEL of the Starfighter scandal (another US-German co-production) and an anachronism for today’s rag – observed rightly that, de facto, there is only one sovereign nation on the planet. While the US erodes the very concept of the nation state in places like Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Syria, now the EU, and thus threatens the foundation of the “Peace” defined starting in Westphalia (and persisting, with major setback, to today), the Germans will look strenuously in the opposite direction.

    In 2002/2003, Germany was on the UN Security Council by rotation, and, under UN Resolution 377, was in the position to unilaterally call for a General Assembly session on the – illegal – invasion of Iraq. Schroeder campaigned himself to election success on the pretense to opposing the Iraq war and working to prevent it, but Germany in fact did nothing.

    If you would like a prediction as to how this kabuki will play out, ask the president of Bolivia. The very same EU “leadership” that is forced by Snowden’s disclosures to acknowledge that they acquiesce to systemic surveillance at every level of their “representative” democracies fell all over themselves to assist the US in their attempts to get a hold of Snowden. Given that the same leaderships co-operated not only in aggressive war, but also in rendition, torture, and indefinite detention, it is pretty clear – to everybody outside so-called “Western civilization” – that this is a Northern hemisphere confederacy of dunces and hypocrites. You will not see the EU tackle the UK either.

    If you think that the threat to the very ideas and institutions of a sustainable open society that has developed since Reagan and reached unprecedented peaks in Clinton, Bush and Obama factors anywhere in the thinking of the plutocracy that governs the EU, shouldn’t the austerity project convince you otherwise? This is what inbred wealth is – retainers and rentiers that are themselves governed by a self-destructive need to make their point – we rule – and a global ruling class that has become nothing but a disconnected, diffuse hunger to collect made-up measures of wealth.

  14. charles sereno

    “But back to Obama. He’s in trouble with the EU and he calls only Merkel? If you have someone upset with you (particularly an institutional someone), you go and make a gesture of calming ruffled feathers, even if the resulting conversation is remarkably devoid of substance. You make a ritual acknowledgment that they are upset and they matter enough that you will do something about it (that “something” to be determined).” (Yves Smith)

    It’s inconceivable that a decision made at this high level was not deliberate. It’s a cold assertion of power devoid of arrogance. Arrogance is for faded has-beens. France, eg. Remember how just yesterday it was straining at the leash to get at Syria, only to be left hanging on the line? The US strategy is 2 steps forward and 1 backwards (if necessary). The Obama Doctrine is presently being forged. Augustan in character (he hopes).

    1. nonclassical

      having lived Europe-Berlin, let’s remind all that Britain is NOT considered a part of Europe..”City of London” (Wall $treet parallel) anyone? (Shaxton-”Treasure Islands”)

      1. psychohistorian

        That is why Obama didn’t need to make nice with England over this escapade……the real plutocrats know what is going on, they are controlling it.

  15. Anarcissie

    ‘Given that the same leaderships co-operated not only in aggressive war, but also in rendition, torture, and indefinite detention, it is pretty clear – to everybody outside so-called “Western civilization” – that this is a Northern hemisphere confederacy of dunces and hypocrites.’

    And given its many serious problems, one has to wonder how long it will last before there is some kind of significant collapse.

  16. Uwe Ohse

    > Here, Merkel has been suspiciously quiet even though the Der Speigel disclosures have Germany in an uproar.
    > You’d think Merkel would want to get on or at least fake being on the bandwagon until the September elections were past;

    Angela Merkel usually waits a long time before committing to anything. She sometimes acts surprisingly fast, but only if she is very sure which way the wind blows. Right now there seems to be an uproar – but it’s slow news time, and it’s hard to tell how long the uproar will last.

    And then there is the fact that she or her subordinates got spied upon.
    She should be enraged about that, and possibly is. But it may well be that she must not show it for she knows what the spies know.
    Her party, the CDU/CSU leads by a wide margin, she herself leads by a wide margin – so right now she can only lose, if either surveillance state (britain or the USA, i mean) leaks some information.

    The other large party is completely screwed up. Steinbrück in his time as finance minister told us on thursday (2008-09-25) that the german banks are sound, and started to rescue the HRE on 2008-09-26. I can’t imagine that the conservative german media will no use that against him just before the anniversary. The election is 2013-09-22 (the timing is just too perfect to be accidental).
    And the more privacy minded germans will likely not vote for the SPD anyway. There is almost no difference between CDU/CSU and SPD with regards to privacy or civic rights.

    I think Angela Merkels calculation is quite easy: to wait a few weeks may cost her a few percent, but those votes will not go to the SPD. A major scandal might cost here some minister and more than a few percent, which may go to the SPD.

    Really, i cannot imagine that she will commit soon.

    1. Synopticist

      I agree on Merkel. She’ll play for time tactically, see which way the wind is blowing, and if the story rumbles on and the German mood turns angry, she’ll put herself at the head of it.
      If it dies down, then the whole story will be ignored.

      She’s a very astute politician is Angie. And remember, she was a former Komsommol GDR activist back in the day, so it’s not like she has any aversion to this sort of thing.

      1. nonclassical

        ..it does appear to some that Merkel is not running the show-pulling the strings…likely anymore than is bushbama…

  17. barrisj

    And the whole tawdry business about denying Bolivian President Morales’ plane “airspace access” because of “suspicions” that Edward Snowden was boxed up in the cargo hold or whatever…all these posturing “US allies” and their fooking “rule of law”. And where was this stand on “rule of law” when US using EU airspace to fly “renditioned” captives in and out of black sites? Filthy hypocrites, they deserve to be spied upon by Big Brother Amerika.

    1. barrisj

      From openDemocracy:

      The EU won’t stand up to the USA or protect our rights against ‘the eyes’
      For all their purported shock and outrage, the inconvenient truth for many European leaders is that their own intelligence services are up to their necks in unregulated surveillance and/or cooperation with the global USA-UK spying infrastructure.

      As the fallout from the PRISM, TEMPORA, DROPMIRE and the other blithely acronymed surveillance programmes continues to reverberate across Europe, it is worth remembering what happened last time there was a comparable surveillance scandal: not much. The year was 2000 and the investigative journalist Duncan Campbell had just produced a report on the ECHELON system for the European Parliament, laying bare the way in which the “five eyes” – USA, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – intercepted global satellite traffic and other communications systems.

      The European Parliament was particularly concerned that this system may have been used for industrial espionage, to the detriment of Europe’s economies. But the ‘scandal’ ultimately came and went with little more than a mild rebuke and this extraordinary rebuttal from the former head of the CIA:

      [M]y continental friends, we have spied on you because you bribe. Your companies’ products are often more costly, less technically advanced or both, than your American competitors’. As a result you bribe a lot… Stop blaming us and reform your own statist economic policies. Then your companies can become more efficient and innovative, and they won’t need to resort to bribery to compete. And then we won’t need to spy on you.

      The excuse was as implausible then as now. But after a decade of neoliberal EU reform the only response now is, “so what, you do it too”. For all their purported shock and outrage, the inconvenient truth for many European leaders was that their own intelligence services are up to their necks in unregulated surveillance and/or cooperation with the global USA-UK spying infrastructure.
      [more...]

      http://www.opendemocracy.net/ben-hayes/eu-won%E2%80%99t-stand-up-to-usa-or-protect-our-rights-against-%E2%80%98-eyes%E2%80%99

      Interesting point about Germany being intensively scrutinised by US intelligence as part of massive “industrial espionage” data-gathering attacks. So, will die Krauts show some spine and push back hard? One wonders.

  18. robnume

    I don’t believe ANY EU official is concerned about United Stasi of Amerika spying on the EU citizenry. After all, the EU is spying on its own sheeple, too. The EU is every bit as fascist as The US. This is all window dressing to get the sheeple of the EU as kowtowed to their enslavement as US citizens, aka “the enemy”, are.

  19. TC

    Shocking! Europe’s bankrupt oligarchs are playing along with the Anglo-American intelligence community’s psy-op. And what’s Putin got to say? Why he demands Snowden shut up! Wouldn’t you think he’d rather love Snowden keep spilling the beans, that Russia’s relations with Western Europe be enhanced, particularly per the much objected U.S. BMD defense seen targeting Russia? Does Vlad understand the U.S. president’s resistance to aggrevating military conflict in Asia is the true matter little Ed has been loosed to accomplish?

  20. ian

    Isn’t it possible that the EU isn’t really _that_ upset – that this is just a bargaining chip in trade talks and a way for local politicians to play to their electorates by standing up to the US?

    1. nonclassical

      E.U. takes BIDNESS quite seriously…it is BIDNESS advantage-SPYING this is all about…

  21. barrisj

    Last three attempts to post vanished into the aether – fourth try at this:

    From openDemocracy:

    The EU won’t stand up to the USA or protect our rights against ‘the eyes’
    For all their purported shock and outrage, the inconvenient truth for many European leaders is that their own intelligence services are up to their necks in unregulated surveillance and/or cooperation with the global USA-UK spying infrastructure.

    As the fallout from the PRISM, TEMPORA, DROPMIRE and the other blithely acronymed surveillance programmes continues to reverberate across Europe, it is worth remembering what happened last time there was a comparable surveillance scandal: not much. The year was 2000 and the investigative journalist Duncan Campbell had just produced a report on the ECHELON system for the European Parliament, laying bare the way in which the “five eyes” – USA, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – intercepted global satellite traffic and other communications systems.

    The European Parliament was particularly concerned that this system may have been used for industrial espionage, to the detriment of Europe’s economies. But the ‘scandal’ ultimately came and went with little more than a mild rebuke and this extraordinary rebuttal from the former head of the CIA:

    [M]y continental friends, we have spied on you because you bribe. Your companies’ products are often more costly, less technically advanced or both, than your American competitors’. As a result you bribe a lot… Stop blaming us and reform your own statist economic policies. Then your companies can become more efficient and innovative, and they won’t need to resort to bribery to compete. And then we won’t need to spy on you.

    The excuse was as implausible then as now. But after a decade of neoliberal EU reform the only response now is, “so what, you do it too”. For all their purported shock and outrage, the inconvenient truth for many European leaders was that their own intelligence services are up to their necks in unregulated surveillance and/or cooperation with the global USA-UK spying infrastructure.

    The current scandal is already much more significant in political terms than ECHELON ever was, but when the dust settles will the outcome be any different? The European Justice Commissioner wants answers. France, Germany and Italy want answers. EU foreign officials want clarity. Members of the European Parliament want an inquiry. Digital rights advocates want stronger data protection standards. Many of us want what all of these things and more but – unless Germany takes a stand – we haven’t much chance of getting them.
    [...more...]

    http://www.opendemocracy.net/ben-hayes/eu-won%E2%80%99t-stand-up-to-usa-or-protect-our-rights-against-%E2%80%98-eyes%E2%80%99

    Many of us want what all of these things and more but – unless Germany takes a stand – we haven’t much chance of getting them.
    Interesting point about Germany being particularly heavily targeted by US intelligence agencies in furtherance of “industrial espionage”.

  22. barrisj

    After repeated attempts at registering a comment – both on Firefox and IE10, I keeping receiving a “duplicate post” WordPress error message, yet the posting doesn’t appear in the Comments section. Quite confused and confusing indeed.

  23. barrisj

    From openDemocracy:

    The EU won’t stand up to the USA or protect our rights against ‘the eyes’
    For all their purported shock and outrage, the inconvenient truth for many European leaders is that their own intelligence services are up to their necks in unregulated surveillance and/or cooperation with the global USA-UK spying infrastructure.

    As the fallout from the PRISM, TEMPORA, DROPMIRE and the other blithely acronymed surveillance programmes continues to reverberate across Europe, it is worth remembering what happened last time there was a comparable surveillance scandal: not much. The year was 2000 and the investigative journalist Duncan Campbell had just produced a report on the ECHELON system for the European Parliament, laying bare the way in which the “five eyes” – USA, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – intercepted global satellite traffic and other communications systems.

    The European Parliament was particularly concerned that this system may have been used for industrial espionage, to the detriment of Europe’s economies. But the ‘scandal’ ultimately came and went with little more than a mild rebuke and this extraordinary rebuttal from the former head of the CIA:

    [M]y continental friends, we have spied on you because you bribe. Your companies’ products are often more costly, less technically advanced or both, than your American competitors’. As a result you bribe a lot… Stop blaming us and reform your own statist economic policies. Then your companies can become more efficient and innovative, and they won’t need to resort to bribery to compete. And then we won’t need to spy on you.

    The excuse was as implausible then as now. But after a decade of neoliberal EU reform the only response now is, “so what, you do it too”. For all their purported shock and outrage, the inconvenient truth for many European leaders was that their own intelligence services are up to their necks in unregulated surveillance and/or cooperation with the global USA-UK spying infrastructure.

    The current scandal is already much more significant in political terms than ECHELON ever was, but when the dust settles will the outcome be any different? The European Justice Commissioner wants answers. France, Germany and Italy want answers. EU foreign officials want clarity. Members of the European Parliament want an inquiry. Digital rights advocates want stronger data protection standards. Many of us want what all of these things and more but – unless Germany takes a stand – we haven’t much chance of getting them.
    [...]

    Right now the best hope for Europeans who want their governments to stand up to the USA and stop showing contempt for their rights is Germany, the country said to be the most spied upon by the USA (surely proof enough of industrial espionage on a grand scale).
    [...]

    [more…}

    http://www.opendemocracy.net/ben-hayes/eu-won%E2%80%99t-stand-up-to-usa-or-protect-our-rights-against-%E2%80%98-eyes%E2%80%99

    “…unless Germany takes a stand…”.

    Interesting point about Germany being heavily targeted by US intelligence in furtherance of a massive “industrial espionage” campaign. But then, a minor dustup amongst friends – we’re all Atlanticists, aren’t we?

  24. jfleni

    Re: Holder negotiations with EU officials:
    The EU types had better count their fingers after they shake hands with Holder!

    He is the very same “law enforcement” chief who tells the plutocrats: “Don’t you worry none there bubba, just pay this little bitty fine and go on home and sin no more”. He is slimy and completely untrustworthy; Barry comes close, but so far has kept his own counsel.

  25. allcoppedout

    I would recommend a trip back to the post-Roman world to understand the ‘old as the hills’ aspect of this squabble -
    http://www.historytoday.com/michael-antonucci/war-other-means-legacy-byzantium
    Much more important than what these systems may hold on you and me is what they may hold on the banksters that is not being revealed.
    In the UK it is now obvious that our cops (let alone SIS) targeted human rights groups most of us would see as an essential component of democracy and slept their way through the ranks by deception. Whilst this vile practice went on, the cops were not investigating paedophile activity, street grooming and so on.
    The key question is whether intelligence has been used to infiltrate and manipulate – as say with Ames and the Cambridge spies by the Soviets. One has to suspect it is easier to do this with ‘friends’ than declared enemies.

  26. Susan the other

    I’m getting here late today and sleepy. My first observation is that if the EU is going to make a strong stand (which their wording indicates) for privacy, then they should also take a strong stand for sovereignty and rules governing environmental protection and other vital social sovereign concerns. If the Trans Atlantic-Pacific Pacts are inntended to undermine the rights of citizens, both privacy concerns (now with all the telecom concerns), and environmental concerns should hold equally against any and all foreseen trade and capital transgressions. So this is a good thing because it validates social concerns across the board. Go EU Parlement!

    1. psychohistorian

      While I would like to agree with you, I think the plutocrats holding EU debt are aligned with the plutocrats holding US debt and in control of most of our government representatives.

  27. David

    As Hillary Clinton came under increasing scrutiny for her story about facing sniper fire in Bosnia, one question that arose was whether she has engaged in ‘a pattern of lying’.

    The now-retired general counsel and chief of staff of the House Judiciary Committee, who supervised Hillary when she worked on the Watergate investigation, says Hillary’s history of lies and unethical behavior goes back farther – and goes much deeper – than anyone realizes.

    Jerry Zeifman, a lifelong Democrat, supervised the work of 27-year-old Hillary Rodham on the committee. Hillary got a job working on the investigation at the behest of her former law professor, Burke Marshall, who was also Sen. Ted Kennedy’s chief counsel in the Chappaquiddick affair. When the investigation was over, Zeifman fired Hillary from the committee staff and refused to give her a letter of recommendation – one of only three people who earned that dubious distinction in Zeifman’s 17-year career.

    Why?

    “Because she was a liar,” Zeifman said in an interview last week. “She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer. She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality.”

    How could a 27-year-old House staff member do all that? She couldn’t do it by herself, but Zeifman said she was one of several individuals – including Marshall, special counsel John Doar and senior associate special counsel (and future Clinton White House Counsel) Bernard Nussbaum – who engaged in a seemingly implausible scheme to deny Richard Nixon the right to counsel during the investigation.

    Why would they want to do that? Because, according to Zeifman, they feared putting Watergate break-in mastermind E. Howard Hunt on the stand to be cross-examined by counsel to the president. Hunt, Zeifman said, had the goods on nefarious activities in the Kennedy Administration that would have made Watergate look like a day at the beach – including Kennedy’s purported complicity in the attempted assassination of Fidel Castro.

    The actions of Hillary and her cohorts went directly against the judgment of top Democrats, up to and including then-House Majority Leader Tip O’Neill, that Nixon clearly had the right to counsel. Zeifman says that Hillary, along with Marshall, Nussbaum and Doar, was determined to gain enough votes on the Judiciary Committee to change House rules and deny counsel to Nixon. And in order to pull this off, Zeifman says Hillary wrote a fraudulent legal brief, and confiscated public documents to hide her deception.

    The brief involved precedent for representation by counsel during an impeachment proceeding. When Hillary endeavored to write a legal brief arguing there is no right to representation by counsel during an impeachment proceeding, Zeifman says, he told Hillary about the case of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who faced an impeachment attempt in 1970.

    “As soon as the impeachment resolutions were introduced by (then-House Minority Leader Gerald) Ford, and they were referred to the House Judiciary Committee, the first thing Douglas did was hire himself a lawyer,” Zeifman said.

    The Judiciary Committee allowed Douglas to keep counsel, thus establishing the precedent. Zeifman says he told Hillary that all the documents establishing this fact were in the Judiciary Committee’s public files. So what did Hillary do?

    “Hillary then removed all the Douglas files to the offices where she was located, which at that time was secured and inaccessible to the public,” Zeifman said. Hillary then proceeded to write a legal brief arguing there was no precedent for the right to representation by counsel during an impeachment proceeding – as if the Douglas case had never occurred.

    The brief was so fraudulent and ridiculous, Zeifman believes Hillary would have been disbarred if she had submitted it to a judge.

    Zeifman says that if Hillary, Marshall, Nussbaum and Doar had succeeded, members of the House Judiciary Committee would have also been denied the right to cross-examine witnesses, and denied the opportunity to even participate in the drafting of articles of impeachment against Nixon.

    Of course, Nixon’s resignation rendered the entire issue moot, ending Hillary’s career on the Judiciary Committee staff in a most undistinguished manner. Zeifman says he was urged by top committee members to keep a diary of everything that was happening. He did so, and still has the diary if anyone wants to check the veracity of his story. Certainly, he could not have known in 1974 that diary entries about a young lawyer named Hillary Rodham would be of interest to anyone 34 years later.

    But they show that the pattern of lies, deceit, fabrications and unethical behavior was established long ago – long before the Bosnia lie, and indeed, even before cattle futures, Travelgate and Whitewater – for the woman who is still asking us to make her president of the United States.

    Franklin Polk, who served at the time as chief Republican counsel on the committee, confirmed many of these details in two interviews he granted me this past Friday, although his analysis of events is not always identical to Zeifman’s. Polk specifically confirmed that Hillary wrote the memo in question, and confirmed that Hillary ignored the Douglas case. (He said he couldn’t confirm or dispel the part about Hillary taking the Douglas files.)

    To Polk, Hillary’s memo was dishonest in the sense that she tried to pretend the Douglas precedent didn’t exist. But unlike Zeifman, Polk considered the memo dishonest in a way that was more stupid than sinister.

    “Hillary should have mentioned that (the Douglas case), and then tried to argue whether that was a change of policy or not instead of just ignoring it and taking the precedent out of the opinion,” Polk said.

    Polk recalled that the attempt to deny counsel to Nixon upset a great many members of the committee, including just about all the Republicans, but many Democrats as well.

    “The argument sort of broke like a firestorm on the committee, and I remember Congressman Don Edwards was very upset,” Polk said. “He was the chairman of the subcommittee on constitutional rights. But in truth, the impeachment precedents are not clear. Let’s put it this way. In the old days, from the beginning of the country through the 1800s and early 1900s, there were precedents that the target or accused did not have the right to counsel.”

    That’s why Polk believes Hillary’s approach in writing the memorandum was foolish. He says she could have argued that the Douglas case was an isolated example, and that other historical precedents could apply.

    But Zeifman says the memo and removal of the Douglas files was only part the effort by Hillary, Doar, Nussbaum and Marshall to pursue their own agenda during the investigation.

    After my first column, some readers wrote in claiming Zeifman was motivated by jealousy because he was not appointed as the chief counsel in the investigation, with that title going to Doar instead.

    Zeifman’s account is that he supported the appointment of Doar because he, Zeifman, a) did not want the public notoriety that would come with such a high-profile role; and b) didn’t have much prosecutorial experience. When he started to have a problem with Doar and his allies was when Zeifman and others, including House Majority Leader Tip O’Neill and Democratic committee member Jack Brooks of Texas, began to perceive Doar’s group as acting outside the directives and knowledge of the committee and its chairman, Peter Rodino.

    (O’Neill died in 1994. Brooks is still living and I tried unsuccessfully to reach him. I’d still like to.)

    This culminated in a project to research past presidential abuses of power, which committee members felt was crucial in aiding the decisions they would make in deciding how to handle Nixon’s alleged offenses.

    According to Zeifman and other documents, Doar directed Hillary to work with a group of Yale law professors on this project. But the report they generated was never given to the committee. Zeifman believes the reason was that the report was little more than a whitewash of the Kennedy years – a part of the Burke Marshall-led agenda of avoiding revelations during the Watergate investigation that would have embarrassed the Kennedys.

    The fact that the report was kept under wraps upset Republican committee member Charles Wiggins of California, who wrote a memo to his colleagues on the committee that read in part:

    Within the past few days, some disturbing information has come to my attention. It is requested that the facts concerning the matter be investigated and a report be made to the full committee as it concerns us all.

    Early last spring when it became obvious that the committee was considering presidential “abuse of power” as a possible ground of impeachment, I raised the question before the full committee that research should be undertaken so as to furnish a standard against which to test the alleged abusive conduct of Richard Nixon.

    As I recall, several other members joined with me in this request. I recall as well repeating this request from time to time during the course of our investigation. The staff, as I recall, was noncommittal, but it is certain that no such staff study was made available to the members at any time for their use.

    Wiggins believed the report was purposely hidden from committee members. Chairman Rodino denied this, and said the reason Hillary’s report was not given to committee members was that it contained no value. It’s worth noting, of course, that the staff member who made this judgment was John Doar.

    In a four-page reply to Wiggins, Rodino wrote in part:

    Hillary Rodham of the impeachment inquiry staff coordinated the work. . . . After the staff received the report it was reviewed by Ms. Rodham, briefly by Mr. Labovitz and Mr. Sack, and by Doar. The staff did not think the manuscript was useful in its present form. . . .

    In your letter you suggest that members of the staff may have intentionally suppressed the report during the course of its investigation. That was not the case.

    As a matter of fact, Mr. Doar was more concerned that any highlight of the project might prejudice the case against President Nixon. The fact is that the staff did not think the material was usable by the committee in its existing form and had not had time to modify it so it would have practical utility for the members of the committee. I was informed and agreed with the judgment.

    Mr. Labovitz, by the way, was John Labovitz, another member of the Democratic staff. I spoke with Labovitz this past Friday as well, and he is no fan of Jerry Zeifman.

    “If it’s according to Zeifman, it’s inaccurate from my perspective,” Labovitz said. He bases that statement on a recollection that Zeifman did not actually work on the impeachment inquiry staff, although that is contradicted not only by Zeifman but Polk as well.

    Labovitz said he has no knowledge of Hillary having taken any files, and defended her no-right-to-counsel memo on the grounds that, if she was assigned to write a memo arguing a point of view, she was merely following orders.

    But as both Zeifman and Polk point out, that doesn’t mean ignoring background of which you are aware, or worse, as Zeifman alleges, confiscating documents that disprove your argument.

    All told, Polk recalls the actions of Hillary, Doar and Nussbaum as more amateurish than anything else.

    “Of course the Republicans went nuts,” Polk said. “But so did some of the Democrats – some of the most liberal Democrats. It was more like these guys – Doar and company – were trying to manage the members of Congress, and it was like, ‘Who’s in charge here?’ If you want to convict a president, you want to give him all the rights possible. If you’re going to give him a trial, for him to say, ‘My rights were denied,’ – it was a stupid effort by people who were just politically tone deaf. So this was a big deal to people in the proceedings on the committee, no question about it. And Jerry Zeifman went nuts, and rightfully so. But my reaction wasn’t so much that it was underhanded as it was just stupid.”

    Polk recalls Zeifman sharing with him at the time that he believed Hillary’s primary role was to report back to Burke Marshall any time the investigation was taking a turn that was not to the liking of the Kennedys.

    “Jerry used to give the chapter and verse as to how Hillary was the mole into the committee works as to how things were going,” Polk said. “And she’d be feeding information back to Burke Marshall, who, at least according to Jerry, was talking to the Kennedys. And when something was off track in the view of the Kennedys, Burke Marshall would call John Doar or something, and there would be a reconsideration of what they were talking about. Jerry used to tell me that this was Hillary’s primary function.”

    Zeifman says he had another staff member get him Hillary’s phone records, which showed that she was calling Burke Marshall at least once a day, and often several times a day.

    A final note about all this: I wrote my first column on this subject because, in the aftermath of Hillary being caught in her Bosnia fib, I came in contact with Jerry Zeifman and found his story compelling. Zeifman has been trying to tell his story for many years, and the mainstream media have ignored him. I thought it deserved an airing as a demonstration of how early in her career Hillary began engaging in self-serving, disingenuous conduct.

    Disingenuously arguing a position? Vanishing documents? Selling out members of her own party to advance a personal agenda? Classic Hillary. Neither my first column on the subject nor this one were designed to show that Hillary is dishonest. I don’t really think that’s in dispute. Rather, they were designed to show that she has been this way for a very long time – a fact worth considering for anyone contemplating voting for her for president of the United States.

    By the way, there’s something else that started a long time ago.

    “She would go around saying, ‘I’m dating a person who will some day be president,’” Polk said. “It was like a Babe Ruth call. And because of that comment she made, I watched Bill Clinton’s political efforts as governor of Arkansas, and I never counted him out because she had made that forecast.”

    Bill knew what he wanted a long time ago. Clearly, so did Hillary, and her tactics for trying to achieve it were established even in those early days.

    Vote wisely.
    Hillary’s Crocodile Tears in Connecticut

    Jerry Zeifman — February 5, 2008
    I have just seen Hillary Clinton and her former Yale law professor both in tears at a campaign rally here in my home state of Connecticut. Her tearful professor said how proud he was that his former student was likely to become our next President. Hillary responded in tears.
    My own reaction was of regret that, when I terminated her employment on the Nixon impeachment staff, I had not reported her unethical practices to the appropriate bar associations.

    Hillary as I knew her in 1974

    At the time of Watergate I had overall supervisory authority over the House Judiciary Committee’s Impeachment Inquiry staff that included Hillary Rodham-who was later to become First Lady in the Clinton White House.

    During that period I kept a private diary of the behind the scenes congressional activities. My original tape recordings of the diary and other materials related to the Nixon impeachment provided the basis for my prior book Without Honor and are now available for inspection in the George Washington University Library.

    Jerry Zeifman
    http://www.eohistory.info/2013/hillaryHistory.htm

Comments are closed.