The NSA – the National Agency of Industrial Espionage
You could sense some disappointment and even some ill-disguised grudge against America in the reactions of Polish politicians to the global surveillance hysteria triggered by the revelations leaked by the NSA whistle-blower E. Snowden: How come? We, the proud Polish nation, your ‘strategic partner’, go out of our way to please you (we acknowledged Kuklinski as a hero, purchased F-16, we were there with you in Iraq and Afghanistan), and you wouldn’t even spy on us?!! Is that your allied gratitude?!
We wish to reassure the disappointed politicians and boost their confidence: they did spy on us, they still do and they will continue to do so. Obviously – proportionately to our ‘power status’. Maybe the political America slightly ignores us, or even more than slightly, but the corporate America behaves otherwise. After all, the dates of planned arms purchases approach. We also wish to report what lies in the NSA’s area of interest – although it might upset some. Well the Agency is not that keen on the fact that Schetyna lost the elections, that Macierewicz talks nonsense, they do not quite even care about Tusk and Kaczynski’s mutual feeling of personal aversion. Yet the fact that minister Nowak and other high level government officials may have a tendency to make deals with businesses and accept expensive watches actually does constitute information worth attention. And the recent revelations of corruption in tenders for IT equipment are closely followed by the corporate America.
The NSA and industrial espionage
Is the NSA engaged in industrial espionage? Undoubtedly the answer is yes, although the title is exaggerated on purpose to underline the problem which is still not well understood in Poland. It is certain that the agency conducts not only industrial surveillance since as a state body the NSA performs, in the name of that state, also political and business intelligence. Yet we must remember that the organization is at the service of the political America as much as the state dutifully meets the objectives of the corporate America. The Polish politicians and media as well as the so-called Americanists limit the whole debate on bugging to the political aspect – or, what is worse, to a dispute as to whether Snowden shall be regarded as a hero or a traitor. An aged, honoured former Polish minister for foreign affairs went as far as to state that Snowden does not even deserve to shake hands with. Truly shameful since that is not what it is about, Snowden is a figure least important in all this, although the Americans would prefer for all this discussion to concentrate on his ‘iniquity’.
What is totally unfair against the receivers is the effort of the ‘Americanists’ to try to prove that the United States fight for values such as freedom, democracy, human rights, etc. This country cannot be denied one thing: the care about its own interests and the interests of the corporate world. As a matter of fact, these two things are the same when it comes to USA.
How about a few facts from the near future. Further leaks made by E. Snowden demonstrate that the National Security Agency served the interests of American corporations by keeping under surveillance the internal computer network of the Brazilian oil corporation Petrobas. Although the Agency’s spokesperson defended it with the use of antiterrorist phraseology, there are no doubts that the Brazilian giant with its annual income of USD 120 billion was at the area of interests of US corporations. A secret 24-slides presentation used for training purposes at the Agency dated as of May 22nd, 2012 was disclosed, which instructed how to obtain internal information from computer networks of institutions, companies, banks, etc. The name ‘Petrobas’ was mentioned on several presentation slides. The matter led to a serious estrangement in the Brazilian-American relations.
The second and a more relevant issue is the fact that industrial espionage prohibition clause was introduced in the US-Germany anti-spy deal under construction. The agreement may come into force by the end of the year. According to ‘Der Spiegel’, the provision on corporate espionage ban was added on German initiative, as a result of a two-day visit of the Chancellor’s office and German intelligence delegation at the White House (30-31.10). The signal is more than clear – Germany is aware of the fact that the NSA performed classic industrial espionage and it wants to regulate this issue, at least formally. Not that it believes that such move will stop the spying practices but Germany at least wants to save its face in front of the public opinion.
Industrial espionage in the form it is performed by the NSA or the CIA, directed against corporations with registered seats in America’s allied states is nothing new, the main newspapers wrote about this 20, 15 and 10 years ago. Clinton (‘The economy, stupid!’) made economic spying the priority of its administration, especially when it comes to obtaining information protecting American competitiveness and market advantages, technology and financial security. Industrial espionage was almost equated with the term ‘business intelligence’.
The report of the European Parliament published in February in 2000 demonstrated that due to the Echelon programme, American enterprises took advantage and won lucrative, billions-worth contracts over European companies at least twice. One of its authors, a British intelligence expert Duncan Campbell, did not leave doubts that successes of American corporations against their European and Japanese rivals are a result of Echelon spying.
For example Airbus, large European consortium, lost a contract with Saudi Arabia when the NSA disclosed that Airbus representatives offered bribes to the other party’s representatives. The agency kept under surveillance all facsimile communications and phone calls exchanged between Airbus, Saudi Arabia airlines and the Saudi Arabian government. Whereas Raytheon, an American company, due to information obtained through the NSA, won a contract for the delivery of a radar system to Brazil worth USD 1,4 billion, thereby winning with the French Thomson-CSF. In both cases the American agency, trying to look like a moralizer, acted as a whistle blower. Former CIA director James Woosley admitted openly to ‘Wall Street Journal’ (12.03.2000) that the CIA used to spy on its European partners because they were accepting bribes. You really feel like saying: the pot calling the kettle black.
Recently the Internet tycoons Wanadoo and Alcatel-Lucent have been the French targets of the NSA spying programme, as stated by Le Mond (21.10). Wandaoo, part of France Telecom (now Orange) has been engaged in the provision of Internet services since 1995 and represents 4.5 million users. Alcatel-Lucent, an entity created through a merger of the French group Alcatel and the American Lucent Technologies, operates in sensitive areas of telecommunication networks – among others, it renders services to the navy.
ut France and French corporations were not the ones kept under the largest surveillance by the NSA; they were Germany and German enterprises. Germany played a double role for the NSA – role of ‘a partner and a target’. In light of the information on current American industrial espionage, many German corporations modify their information safety systems. Some decided to introduce bans on the use of Skype and Facebook and other social portals, which – as had been proved – disclosed information to intelligence agencies. Even unrealistic ideas to create the ‘German Internet’ were submitted to Deutsche Telecom.
Taking account of the above facts, some light should be shed on the logics and mechanisms of bugs and spying, since even though there is an open and multi-thread ongoing debate in the Western media on the whole interception, no one in the Polish media has clearly explained it yet. One may easily sum up the debate to conclude that no reasonable person in the Western opinion-making circles believes in the antiterrorist aspect of the global American espionage. Indeed, it is all about the interests and safety of the United States, but terrorism in the traditional sense threatens those interests and safety to a very limited degree. The issue concerns global American objectives such as economic ruling, domination in the area of innovation and cyberspace power in particular is a tool to achieve such objectives. Other tasks, such as fight against terrorism, are secondary and are somewhat performed incidentally.
Let’s start with the political ABC. There are two Americas behind the Atlantic Ocean, within the state called the United States of America: a political one and an industrial one, twin-sisters intertwined in an embrace which is not always warm, but still an embrace. Using the Marxist terminology – the first one is a superstructure, the second one – a basis. The political America reflected by the President’s administration exists within the form and implements politics determined by the wishes of industrial America. When corporate America pressed for a war with Iraq, it was the task of political America to figure out a pretext to proceed.
The problem of relationship of the American state with the corporate world is much wider and grounded in history. It looks quite different than in Western Europe. The influence the American corporations had on the state was reflected not only through simple demonstration of economic power. It was also expressed through a display of will and possibility to directly persuade and put pressure by hiring government officials in corporate structures, participating in various bodies shaping states’ economic policy, subsidizing political parties and handing bribes. Moreover, corporations have actively forced its government to grant them support or protect their interests in poorly developed countries, including with use of the American army. History provides us with numerous examples.
Stephen Kinzer (Overthrow: America`s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, Times Book New York 2006), who examined American politicians’ motives when they decided for direct participation or support for coups abroad, starting with Hawaii in 1893 up to the invasion in Iraq in 2003; noticed that there was a mechanism, carefully thought through, consisting of three stages. First the interests of some multinational corporation with its seat in the US were threatened by the actions of a foreign government, which demanded payment of taxes, compliance with the provisions of local employment or environmental law. Sometimes the corporation was nationalized or it was requested to sale its assets or real estate. During the second stage, the American politicians found out about the corporation’s problems and – under the corporation’s arguments and influence – they started viewing and regarding them as an attack on the US. The economic motives, which are always first, were being transformed into political or geostrategic motives at this stage. A feeling grew among the ruling elites that each and every foreign government bothering or oppressing American corporations is in fact anti-American, repressive and dictatorial and constitutes a tool in the hands of powers hostile to Americans (Guatemala, Iran, Chile and many other examples).
During the last stage, the politicians convince the public opinion that a particular country requires military intervention, which is presented as a benefit for the interests of the USA, as a fight between the good and the evil. In fact, outnumbered elite equates its interests with the needs and interests of the whole country, and sometimes of the whole world.
A similar way of thinking and behaviour is sometimes demonstrated by politicians who once moved from their positions in large corporations to the world of politics. Many known names may serve as very good examples, for instance a few dozen years ago John Foster Dulles, Richard Nixon or later Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. N. Klein, when characterizing relations between the US government and American corporations in the last decade and in particular during the G.W. Bush presidency, raises a thesis that a corporate state has been created. A border between the state and the industrial world is now blurred. The author asserts that there is now a ‘revolving door’ between the government and corporations, through which a free movement of politicians to corporations and corporate people to the political scene takes place. This revolving door has always been there, but – according to N. Klein – during G.W. Bush’s presidency, the speed and frequency of such transfers of politicians between the two worlds as well as the feeling and sense of many politicians that they are entitled to remain simultaneously in both worlds are extraordinary and amazing. This means that they do not have to choose between them. Nixon, Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney or Wolfowitz did not choose either – it was obvious for them that what was good for corporations, was good for the United States. Let us think about such attitude and how many disasters and needless victims it brought forward.
What should NSA spying practices teach us?
Most of all, respect for the means and determination of the USA to care about their own interests. We should learn from them. Polish politicians should finally understand – in particular in light of the upcoming large arms tenders – that the American state ‘does not have eternal allies, its interests are eternal’. The politicians, the media and Americanists must stop astounding the public opinion with ‘American values’. Indeed, if you consider own interests as values, than the US does follow its values. The end justifies the means and the Americans perfectly obey by this rule of which the case of NSA’s spying is just a confirmation.
The somewhat popular thesis that the American business follows the flag may be treated like a fairy tale. Our current example just like many examples from the past justifies the statement that it is the flag that follows the business. There is nothing disreputable and even nothing wilful in the corporate America’s penchant for power. There is also nothing blameworthy in the fact that American corporations, supported by the state, will enter into Polish arms tenders and will win most of them. It just should not be done at the costs of further American platoons (company or battalions) quartering on the Polish soil. It is time to stop dreaming about ‘strategic partnership’, time to push fools away from camcorders and microphones and time to commence serious analyses of, for instance, the F-16 fighters tender and the winning of Lockheed Martin. To avoid similar ‘benefits’ offsets in the future.
Authors: Robert Nogacki, Attorney-at-law – Kancelaria Prawna Skarbiec (Skarbiec Law Firm), Marek Ciecierski, PhD – Profesjonalny Wywiad Gospodarczy Skarbiec Sp. z o.o (Skarbiec Professional Business Intelligence Ltd)
2014 Kancelaria Prawna Skarbiec