Unnamed U.S. officials cited in a Wall Street Journal report on Tuesday have claimed that the NSA did not make records of millions of French and Spanish people’s phone calls, as recently reported – they suggested this information was in fact recorded by the intelligence agencies of those countries themselves, then passed on to the NSA.
The WSJ‘s sources also claimed that – in the case of the French spying – the targets were not located in France at the time of the recording, but were instead in “war zones and other areas outside their borders.”
The sources gleaned this from analysis of the Snowden-leaked documents published in Le Monde. They had not seen the Spain-related documents that formed the basis of El Mundo‘s story on Monday, but suggested that it was likely to be a similar situation.
Le Monde had previously exposed a PRISM-like surveillance program that has been carried out by French intelligence, targeting the metadata of French citizens. Spain, too, has a certain amount of domestic surveillance going on.
I suspect we will see a lot more furious off-the-record briefing by various countries’ intelligence officials in the coming weeks. When it comes to the Snowden revelations, the diplomatic fallout from the tapping of Merkel’s phone has triggered the biggest real political uproar yet, and everyone is now trying to cover their own posteriors. We may not know who’s doing the talking, which is a problem, but these tidbits may at least get us closer to the truth.