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Date: 2000-03-04

UK: "I'm proud we're spying on Europe"

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Gleichwohl nicht mehr so ganz taufrisch, muss dieses Stück
konservativen britischen Selbverständnisses dringend zur
Lektüre emfohlen werden: Warum man eher zu einer
anderen, uniformen Welt gehört, als zu jener, in der
verschiedene Sprachen sind.

Unter dem Aspekt des Jämmerlichen gesehen, kommt dies
in etwa dem ehedem stark grassierenden
Deutschnationalismus des armen kleinen AT-Lands gleich.
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"I'm proud we're spying on Europe"

Daniel Hannan was pleased to hear that Britain and America
are keeping tabs on the EU

IT WAS the way he said "our communications" that made
me so uncomfortable. There we all were, the members of the
European Parliament's civil liberties committee, gathered to
investigate a case of Anglo-Saxon espionage against Europe.
And if we were surprised to find that the man giving evidence
was himself a British journalist, Duncan Campbell, we were
too discreet to show it.

Instead, we tut-tutted at his revelations. America, explained
Mr Campbell, working in league with Brittain and her old
dominions, had developed a surveillance network capable of
tapping into telephone calls all over the world. The
Americans could intercept e-mails, listen in to satellite calls,
and were even modifying one of their submarines to
eavesdrop on undersea cables.

We could not know for certain at whom this was directed,
said Mr Campbell. But since the majority of electronic
messages came from this part of the world, it was likely that
the submarine would be aimed primarily "at our
communications in Europe." My colleagues assumed
suitably horrified expressions. But I simply could not get into
the spirit of things. Deep down, I felt pleased that the cousins
were keeping their guard up, and proud that we were doing
our little hit to help them.

That Mr Campbell should be lecturing us about how "we" had
to develop "our own" software systems, so as to break "our"
reliance on American products struck me as -- well, as
letting the side down.

Mr Campbell has doubtless done some very thorough work,
and his conclusions have serious implications. He has
uncovered a surveillance network called Echelon, with
listening posts all over the world.

The US National Security Agency has apparently linked up
with Britain's GGHQ and with the equivalent services in
Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Under an intelligence
accord called UKUSA, dating back to 1947, the five agencies
pool the information picked up from their various sites.

The challenge for our boys, apparently, is not tapping into
calls, but knowing how to sift through the information. With
millions of messages being intercepted every hour, computer
programs called "dictionaries" are employed to recognise key
words. They can even pick out the voices of well-known
politicians. And, of course, the whole thing is unofficial, and
therefore unregulated.

There are plainly issues of privacy and data protection here --
although the European Parliament is noticeably less
exercised about these when discussing, say, pornography on
the internet. But what really bothers MEPs is the suggestion
that the information picked up by these spy stations is being
used to favour American businesses over their European

The evidence is thin, but Boeing is said to have beaten Airbus to a contract after revealing that Airbus had bribed Saudi officials. And a French company was apparently nudged aside by an American firm in its bid to suppl
y Brazil with a new radar system, in a case again involving kickbacks.

Thank heavens for Echelon, I thought, guiltily. If these Continentals can win contracts only by cheating, it's just as well that they sometimes get caught out And anyway, the French and Germans are running a joint listen
ing post in French Guyana. I simply couldn't get into the "them and us" mentality. Or, more accurately, I saw "us" as the community of free English-speaking nations, not the EU.

The French are having all their complexes confirmed. Simply to list the countries involved -- America, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand -- is to wave a red rag at them. Le Monde devoted three pages and an edittori
al to the dangers of this "Anglo-Saxon network". A cartoon on its front page showed Britain-- now habitually depicted in that newspaper as a mad cow -- taking telephone instructions from Uncle Sam while attending a Euurop
ean summit.

In a sense, of course, they are right. When truly vital matters are at stake, the blood of the English-speaking peoples is thicker than the water of the Channel. We don't mind sharing our military secrets with Her Majes
ty's Canadian subjects; but ; how many of us could honestly
claim to feel the same about the Belgians?

It is true that we Anglo-Saxons often seem to be acting in
concert. But this is not, as the French believe, because we
are subservient to the United States. It is rather that our
shared constitutional heritage Often makes us react to things
in tile same way.

We are keen on personal liberty, for instance, and thus on
free trade. We like the rule of law, and dislike bullies, which
makes us especially ready to deploy troops against the likes
of Saddam:

The Echelon affair has implications that go well beyond
security. It reminds us of just how much the EU, like any
aspirant state, depends on a shared sense of identity among
its citizens. Some Europeans have that sense. We don't.

The author is a Conservative MEP for the South-East region.

Views about articles on this page can be sent to .uk
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relayed by
Robert Henderson <>
Matthew Gaylor <>

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Connectivity statt Isolierung
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published on: 2000-03-04
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