America also Spied on South Korean Politicians

As the phone tapping scandal of European leaders continues to grow, politicians and media in South Korea are alarmed by stories of American spying within their own government. Glen Greenwald, the reporter who has released evidence of NSA phone surveillance of foreign leaders passed to him by Edward Snowden, mentioned in an interview with South Korean media that Korea was also subject to similar surveillance and he will soon be releasing the evidence.

South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been criticized for their subdued reaction to the alleged spying. So far, America’s only message to the South Korean government has been a nonspecific, “we understand your position.” Netizens were not very surprised by the allegations, with progressive voices saying that current and previous conservative Korean governments would have been happy to send over their phone records as long as America was interested.

An unhappy Merkel suspects that the U.S. listened in on her phone calls.

An unhappy Merkel suspects that the U.S. listened in on her phone calls.

Was Park Geun-hye subject to the same treatment?

Was Park Geun-hye subject to the same treatment?

Article from Chosun Ilbo:

CNN reports, ‘America’s NSA also eavesdropping on South Korea’

As evidence emerges of America’s eavesdropping program on the phones of 35 heads of state around the world, CNN reported on October 26th that the NSA is also eavesdropping on South Korea.

CNN confirmed that America’s National Security Agency, (NSA) has been eavesdropping on South Korea, citing a former intelligence agent who said that America has been conducting ‘economic spying activities’ on South Korea, France, Israel, and a number of other allied nations.

Newstapa, an independent news outlet, recently spoke with Glen Greenwald, the famous former reporter for England’s The Guardian newspaper, and asked about any Korean connection to the NSA spying issue. In an October 25th exclusive report, Greenwald announced that he would soon organize and release documents describing eavesdropping in South Korea.

Working from secret documents provided by former CIA employee Edward Snowden, Greenwald has exposed the eavesdropping and surveillance activities of the world’s foremost intelligence agency against at least 34 world leaders, including their personal phones and email. Newstapa met and interviewed Greenwald at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Rio, Brazil, which ran from Ocober 12th to the 15th.

Concerns about NSA eavesdropping on Korean leaders emerged after October 23rd reports on America monitoring of German Prime Minister Angela Merkel’s cell phone. While America immediately offered excuses, it did not deny the existence of past eavesdropping and has been subject to intense criticism from European nations.

The German weekly magazine, Der Spiegel, reported that the CIA had monitored Merkel’s phone for more than ten years, starting in 2002.

Meanwhile, there was recently a protest of hundreds in front of the White House against the NSA’s surveillance programs.

Comments from Daum:

블랙키:

so then America must have known about the recent tampered election [the 2012 South Korea presidential election]

gjjjjj:

So what if they did it, can we find out any details?

하얀바다:

If Moon Jae-in had been elected president we would protest American eavesdropping, but with Chicken-brain [Park Geun Hye] and Rat-brain [Lee Myung-bak] in power, we won’t dare say a peep… idiots…

JH:

Why would they need to eavesdrop? bastards like Kim Moo-sung or Kwan Young-se would have been happy to print out transcripts for them. [Kim and Kwan are two conservative politicians extremely unpopular with progressive Koreans]

해웅:

This reminds me of that phrase, “America’s sheep” [종미], why does our country always kneel before the Americans

하늘아래모두:

Did they even need to monitor the phones? Rat-brain and Her Highness… they would snap a salute and obey anything they are told…

사랑하자:

Germany did it, of course our country did it as well. You’ve got to have power. Koreans are weird like that, we don’t have power, but we always fight. When are we going to put our strength together? We try to take care of the country, but we are always fighting among ourselves. But that’s the way it’s got to be so we can make money. We’ve got to sell weapons, give jobs to our citizens, when are we going to come to our senses

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson Han Hye-jin states in a press conference that her ministry is talking with the U.S. about the spying allegations and will take "appropriate measures".

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson Han Hye-jin states in a press conference that her ministry is talking with the U.S. about the spying allegations and will take “appropriate measures”.

human:

As long as America still has a tight hold on Wartime Operational Control, it would be strange if they didn’t eavesdrop

Comments from Twitter:

조국:

Korea asks, “Did you eavesdrop?” America answers, “we understand your position.” I understand that America is trying everything it can to avoid the question. And there are still many Koreans who want to let this issue go.

이석현:

America’s NSA has been eavesdropping on 34 heads of state, including South Korea’s, Germany is in an uproar, and yet our country stands silent? Greenwald says he will soon publish the Korean eavesdropping records, we will have to take a look! We have to strengthen our nation in order for others to respect us!

서주호:

America’s indiscriminate surveillance is shaking the world. Obama is more of a reformer than the Republicans, but he is being criticized around the world for his apparent knowledge of the eavesdropping program. He is just out to support America’s role as a hegemony.

Comments from Ilbe:

(unknown):

Isn’t this a pretty serious issue? Enough to completely flip the opinion of EU countries about America? I don’t see anybody talking about [the eavesdropping issue]. I would look to hear from one of you gays who is an expert on this.

현자무현:

Well.. honestly don’t all government do dirty things to each other? The EU must also have all different kinds of intelligence agencies running around ke ke ke

보빨러OUT트:

Go to Today’s Humor, the empire of anti-Americanism, and you will find a lot of posts about this issue

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  • commander

    No wonder the world’s most powerful country with the most sophisticated information technology succumbed to the temptation of knowing what leaders of allies are thinking in their minds by snooping on phones and emails, official and personal.

    What is regretful for the South Korean government over the latest global eavesdroppibg scandal is the passivity of Seoul’s foreign affairs.

    Seoul should have inquired Washington of any bugging attempts against it in public, instead of making responses in the wake of the revelation that was made.

    Why did South Korea not confront the United States more confidently in the American surveillance allegations against Seoul?

    Seoul should not be subservient to Washington just because the latter provide nuclear deterrence against North Korea and defense aid of an armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

    Seoul should take a more confident stance in bilateral ties with Washington, meaning that it should raise its voices against what it see wrong acts by the United States while streghtening security and economic cooperation.

    After all, the presence of American troops in South Korea is in the American interests. The so called alliance forged by blood–referring to the KORUS alliance established in the wake of the 1950-53 Korean War–is nothing more than a result of the convergence of national interest of two countries.

    Seoul should put aside anxiety over possible strained ties with Washington if it make rightful protests against American illegal surveillance against its ally.

    We want a more active governement on equal footing with the United States.

    • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

      No, everyone spies on everyone. France spied on the U.S during the ‘War of Terror’. Russia even today still has spies in the U.S. Point being, the NSA was caught with their hand in the cookie jar, U.S will have to apologize for their misbehavior, most likely have an inquiry into the bureaucracy of the NSA, and then everyone will go back to spying on each other.

      • commander

        It is well known that covert spying is conducted routinely among countries.

        But the gap technologies used in surveillance, and forced cooperation from giant tech and SNS firms are worrisome enough.

        All the more when Internet-based interconnectedworld makes it easier for a country to encroach on publix privacy and heavily guarded government secrets.

        The latest revelations will surely force many governements to step up cyber security features in the belief that the newest disclosure might be the tip of an iceberg in American colossal intelligence machinery.

        • David

          Well, that will be one positive effect of this scandal.

    • Ami

      “on equal footing with the United States”

      I’m an extremely optimistic person and even I can tell you thats not going to happen.
      Don’t worry, S.Koreas not alone. Most countries (esp ones that aren’t superpowers) aren’t going to see eye to eye with the USA on everything anytime soon. Maybe one day though?

      • commander

        Realistically speaking, S. Korea will not sit with United States for talks on equal terms. In this sense, you hit the bull’s eye.

        But the growing controversy over Amercian massive unlawful surveillance operations may provide US allies with an opprotunity to form an international pressure with vociferous protests for the United States to rein in a seemingly unchecked and sprawling surveillance programs.

        That’s what I expect from urging the government to be more vocal against the illicit spying activities by Washington.

        • David

          Personally I am in favor of a unchecked and sprawling surveillance program. It helps us again the unchecked and sprawling surveillance program of other nations. But that is just me.

  • Webster

    At this point, I’d be more relieved to know that the administration and Congress knew about these activities. The adverse is deeply disturbing. However, mounting evidence is indicating they didn’t know [the full extent of] the NSA’s activities.

    I’m just wondering how long it’s going to take the administration to admit this.
    The longer they wait, the bigger the field day the GOP is going to have with this. Either way, we lose and the remainder of these last two years are going to be even more useless.

    At this point, though, the only major thing they could do to signal goodwill is publicly investigate the activities and prosecute (and give Snowden and Manning a stayed sentence). Though, that’s probably politically suicidal.

    • bigmamat

      Since the GOP put this massive spying machine in place crying foul now just makes them look like they fell down an bumped their heads. It’s a matter of record that the GOP pushed the policies that brought about all of these so called NSA scandals. They were warned that giving unfettered power to the executive could backfire on them. All these things were fine as long as the president was a republican and a white guy. Anybody that gets outraged now is not playing with a full deck.

      • Webster

        That’s a valid point (and why I think The Guardian and Snowden did more harm than good in the way they went about releasing the information as it’s made it difficult to have a realistic conversation about it). In other words, it goes back to The Patriot Act, the NSA is a symptom, so to speak.

        However, a lot of the recent allegations about Merkel is that Obama knew. I, however, doubt that (from various incidents such as making such a vocal campaign about IP Theft in China). However, the overarching reality is that it will be bad for the administration either way: if he knew, he’s a “tyrant” and screwed, if he didn’t, he’s “incompetent.”

        That’s why they’ve so muted and why The Guardian keeps releasing this information (from what I can gather). It’s like a game of chicken. What will most likely happen is that we’ll find out some other agency has been doing this to American officials/the President.

        • JoeChicago

          What would have been an more productive way for the Guardian and Snowden to release the information about spying?

          • Webster

            I didn’t say they did the wrong thing. I just said the way they went about it has had negative side effects. I don’t know what would have worked better…though, I guess not releasing things in such a piece meal manner. I get they have to review all of the materials, but it would have been better to do that first then blow the lid off with a thorough account of everything they know.

            They may have been able to uncover a lot more or have found more informants if they sat on it a while longer(?).

          • bigmamat

            It had negative side effects for Obama. It was just another scandal that the GOP could seize to discredit his administration. Nobody who listens to the GOP cares that most of the policies they have called him out on were started during the previous administration. Of course most of the time the GOP is only preaching to the choir anyway, After all he’s a Kenyan muslim and a fascist dictator. So anything they say will be all over my facebook feed in a matter of minutes. Oh the outrage! It’s really strange living in the southern U.S. and possessing a brain at the same time.

          • David

            Either you really do not understand the politics in America or you are deliberately misrepresenting them, I suspect the former. However, since this is not the issue I will not waste the time to educate you. Whomever you blame for this scandal, the point of the article is the reaction of Koreans to the news.

          • Webster

            Here’s my major gripe in a nutshell: all of these people who are complaining about incursions into their privacy? They care, no doubt, but why on Earth aren’t they seizing upon the mounting evidence that we’ve been – I don’t know if we should use the term “spying” as the pejorative connotations muddy the conversation – monitoring these leaders’ personal communications.

            One would think these people who are so up in arms would be pointing out that, yes, if we’re doing it (especially if it was able to fly under the radar of our own administration and Legislature, which evidence is beginning to demonstrate), others likely can, are, or definitely will.

            The fallout is diplomatic, and we’ve done a huge part in making it less stable if all of these allegations are true. How on Earth can you have bilateral relations when you fear the other party is secretly monitoring yours?

            So yes, I think much of the initial reaction has to do with who is in the White House (it would have been the same, just less venomous, if Bush were in office when this was uncovered).

            THAT’S why Snowden and The Guardian should have held off until they’d thought everything through, vetted all the documents, and had an opportunity to find additional sources and leakers. We could have gained a lot more, and the initial blow would have done more to move the discourse along because it would have what’s been sorely lacking as to date: clarity.

          • bigmamat

            I think our 4th estate has held off on things long enough don’t you? Especially the American and British media. I can’t even call most of these people journalists anymore.

  • chucky3176

    Nations spy on each other all the time. Nothing new here. The US is not a military or economic danger to S.Korea, so who cares. I’d be more worried if this was China.

    • dffd

      so who cares you say, i think alot of people do, you wanna give up your rights, but i dont

      • chris

        but i think what chucky’s trying to point out is that yes, it does violate privacy, but no, it does not pose a threat to the country so why make such a big deal out of it? obviously no one wants sensitive and important info being exposed by spying but its not as if the U.S. is going to use that to put S. Korea at an disadvantage. its not like its N. Korea listening on classified information between S. Korea and a different country!

    • takasar1

      lol. it this type of hypocritical stupidity that really makes me lose confidence in the world we live in.

  • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

    I doubt even a quarter of the tapped messages are even looked at. Even if the NSA had an army of people working round the clock on the most advanced computers, that is still petabytes of data to sift through, to find the one call they want to know about.

    So not only did these people spy on everyone, but they did it without any thought to effiiency. That’s what’s ‘protecting the country’…

    • Asian Male Insecurity

      Yes, this is what a myopic fixation on irrelevant things will get you, knowing the US Government they were probably more concerned with who was sending racist messages on discussion sections like this one than actual existential and internal threats to US security.

    • David

      Oh, I think you would be surprised at how efficient they can be when they put their minds to it.

      • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

        What have a team of a hundred toadies hit ctrl+f and search for ‘bomb’? Yeah. That’ll get you about a million emails a day. And 2 billion more left unchecked.

        • David

          Actually, recordings are digital run through computers that do the word searches and the algorithms they design to do this today are very sophisticated (these flagged conversations/data searches are then checked by a human). They have been doing that for a very long time.. However, if you go to the trouble of listening in on a world leader’s phone, THAT tape is listed to by a live person.

  • Ami

    I think the NSA causes more trouble than its worth.

    • chris

      but thats also because you dont know how much of the NSA has accomplished because that is all classified information. the U.S. has been able to eliminate a lot of extremist leaders through the Middle East and Africa – and yes, these threats extend out to European/other allied countries as well. so whether their accomplishments outweighs the negatives/violation of privacy – we do not know

      • JoeChicago

        So you say that we don’t know about the successes of the NSA but then you claim that the NSA has eliminated terror threats throughout the world. Because it is classified how do you know that? Without more transparency in the system there is no way to trust the NSA. Plus from what has been leaked, it seems their data collections are way out of hand.

        • chris

          i never said that the NSA has eliminated terror threats. i said the U.S. has. – assuming that the U.S. uses their resources including spy technology, they probably carried out those missions through the use of intelligence gathering organisations, such as NSA, CIA, DoD, etc. maybe other countries are harboring classified info to prevent U.S. from further foreign intervention such as Russia and other EU countries. this is all speculation of course, but i am simply suggesting that we do not know much about NSA other than the negatives.

      • Ami

        Where does it stop? – extremists are one thing, but why are we spying on Brazil’s leaders? when has Brazil ever posed a threat to the States? What if China did the same thing? Are we really that afraid of terrorists? The NSA is hypocritical and an abuse of power on America’s part.

        • chris

          South American drugs – Mexico gets a bad rep but you do realize a lot of drugs other than marijuana come from Latin American countries. i would not be surprised if NSA spied Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, and other countries as well. and we probably do spy on China already! Russians were already caught spying on the U.S. a few years ago. they even had spies LIVING in the state of MA. organisations like NSA exist everywhere. its counterintelligence. its just the only one that gets the most media attention.

          • Ami

            …So the usa spied on Brazil’s PRESIDENT because of drug cartels?? Cartels don’t pose a real threat to the USA’s security, they rely on americans for money. I think you should leave this Devil’s advocate thing alone, you’re not very good at it lmao.

          • chris

            1. the example might be far-fetched but the point is that there are security matters that YOU are not aware of. my point is that YOUR opinion is based on very limited information that the media is aware of. how do you come to a conclusion when you don’t know two sides to a story? doesnt that make you biased? 2. do you think the Brazilian gov’t is transparent? do you think that they don’t spy on their neighboring countries for intelligence? obviously the U.S. is snooping around because they suspect something, and whether you agree with it does not matter. 3. goes off track but cartels not posing a “real” threat. are you not aware of the mass graves they dig up within the borders? isnt that of concern? how is the flow of not marijuana but hardcore drugs not a threat to society when that feeds street violence and other forms of criminal activity?

            its not playing devil’s advocate. its pointing out the flaw in how you come to your conclusion. your conclusion is PRIMARILY based on assumption.

        • chris

          wait Ami, what?? Australia was just exposed by Snowden’s leaked info about how they tried to acquire Indonesian official’s phone numbers to spy on them!! GASP!! its intel gathering. this happens EVERYWHERE.

  • I love how they give a dam now, they did not care that the ordinary people were being spied upon , but now it is politicians it is suddenly more important.

    • commander

      As a result, the European public’s displeasure over the nosy American intelligence gathering is swaying the trans-Atlantic free trade negotiations to step up privacy rules for American firms.

      For the rank and file people, the best way to cope with meddlesome state intelligence apparatus may try to put less personal information on the Interent.

  • Rez

    I think the notion of good guys that we have portrayed in movies and tv programs give us a false sense of what our governments do is right or in our interest (some are but I would say most aren’t). There are no good guys. The fact this surprises anyone is surprising. We, civilians, should be up in arms with the initial news that we were spied on for no reason. The fact that now politicians were spied on and made it to the news shows that really that politicians care more about their own secrets than the safety of the people who elected them.

    • commander

      We will give passionate support to Americans if they press their lawmakers to put a brake on illegitimate, unlawful monitorings of phones and emails of other nationals as well as Amercians.

      Now is the time for people in state to show people’s power to intelligence officials who feel priviledged just because they work for the nebulous cause of national security.

    • YellowMagic

      Actually most people outside the US are like “Wow, the US is spying on other countries? No sh*t.”
      But politicians are taking this opportunity to use this incident as a political tool, nothing more.

  • Ryan Kim

    America’s bitch S. Korea won’t even lift a finger.

    • Jarl Balgruff

      koreans are all weak one day japan or China will wipe u off the world

      • chucky3176

        They’ve been trying to do that for centuries.

        But Koreans are still here and still thriving. So don’t you worry about that.

      • commander

        As chucky rightly point out, though sandwiched between awakening Dragon and Samurai wit its sword hidden inside its chest, South Korea has made its presence on the global stage more visible.

        China and Japan would do well to tackle a mountain of pending critical issues that could sap their vitality before plotting any maneuvers against Seoul.

    • commander

      I am now wondering whether the US has bugged leaders in Japan, and if so, I am eagerly curious about what reactions Japan will show.

      • dffd

        japan wont do shit, any country that has an american military base in its backyard is americas bitch,, if you dont know now you know nigga

      • David

        I think it is safe to assume we did. In fact I would only be insulted if it came out that America did not listen into the conversations of my countries leaders. I am sure citizens of Lichtenstein are all asking themselves “What is wrong with us? Don’t you like us?”

    • David

      What a ridiculous statement. The ROK and the U.S. have had a mutually beneficial partnership for almost 60 years. To reduce all the good that has come of that (economic aid, preferential trading status, availability of cheap goods for Americans and the ROK as a stalwart against the spread of communism in Eastern Asia) to a five letter word shows a tremendous amount of ignorance on the subject and disrespect for the people of both countries who have worked together all these years.

  • Asian Male Insecurity

    As much as Kyopo retards piss me off, I feel damn sorry for S. Korea sometimes. Sandwiched between an unpredictable North, an increasingly assertive Japan, having to balance its relationship with America with China’s increasingly aggressive tone towards its neighbors etc.

    • ChuckRamone

      You’re the same guy who posted under all those aliases like “Gook filth” and whatever else. I can tell by your prose style, and your hang-ups about Asian men.

    • Alice S

      Would you still say CH is ‘ag’ if CH’s demographics was 12.5% mestizo/mixed Chi?

  • zachary T

    Hey world and Obama voters, how are you? hey remember in 2008 when a very under-qualified guy apologized to the world and promised he would “fundamentally transform” America? You like what he has done? You’re angry? welcome to the American conservative movement from six years ago. Yes Bush II put a lot of the structure in place, but he wasn’t really conservative, and Obama has run with it. I really hope NSA didn’t illegally wiretap any Korean officials. I hope one day our countries can have a better and more real relationship not overshadowed by security issues.

    • takasar1

      its okay, obama’s black. he has a right to be incompetent without us criticizing him thank you very much!

  • commander

    For peoples in many parts of the world, one of the biggest contradictions for American foriegn policy is that the United States has hatched and executed many illicit activities against foreign governments while it proclaims itself as a beacon of hope in democracy and freedom for others to emulate in the name of American exceptionalism.

    The latest high profile scandal reveals such a contradictory aspect: the US goes to every length to keep its power even if it means breaking democratic principles that it has vigoriously championed.

    • dffd

      they like bombing countries into democracies

    • David

      Every country in the world has a counter-intelligence department, because somebody is always trying to spy on them (yes, even the Vatican has one). I do not think any foreign leader is so naive to think other countries are not trying to listen in. The public outrage is because the U.S. 1) was successful and 2) got sloppy and let that traitor make it safely to Russia, thus embarrassing everybody involved (and compromising a great intelligence gathering apparatus). I do not think intelligence gathering is either illicit (we have never signed a treaty saying we would not spy on people, and if we do it will be a perfect cover for spying on people so don’t believe it) evil or undemocratic. You think Korea, Germany, Russia, China, Japan and England don’t spy on the U.S.(yes, Brazil probably tries also)? Have you seen their new F-35 imitation fighter plane? The difference is we do not use our military to steal corporate secrets and many other countries (I am trying not to look at China) do.

      • commander

        Three points are worth to note when discussing legitimacy of US electronic espionage.

        First, state soverignty with external surpremacy proscribes any intrusive wire or wireless tapping in its territory or realms under its jurisdiction by other states, as is recognized by international law.

        And the surveillance of an foreign embassy in its territory by a state is also prohibited by Vienna Convetion on Diplomatic Relations, to which the United States is the signatory.

        Second, As for the legitimacy of electronic infilteration and bugging , the fact that other contries conduct similar operations does not vindicate wrongful actions.

        If this case constitutes the basis for justification, the absence of unlawful actions will be viewed as the lack of capabilities to carry out cloack and dagger activities–a result that we can’t accept.

        Third, the absence of central authority which can enforce law and punish rule breakers will force countries arouns the world to continue ita furtive intelligence gathering activities.

        Cynics would say that the only lesson from the phone tapping scandal is to keep more clandestine and shadowy not to be caught under qny circumstances.

        • Guest

          These are good points. However, I would answer with this. Common law (as in the laws of a country), whether voted on directly (as in direct democratic rule), indirectly, such as when people elect others to vote in their place (i.e. representative democracies, that most countries have) or laws imposed by a totalitarian government (actively or passively allowed by the citizens) are all laws that are one way or another created by the people of a sovereign nation. In fact sovereignty is defined by the ability to pass and enforce this laws with legitimate use of force. If I think drug laws in the U.S. are old and antiquated, I am not just free to openly use drugs and then argue this in court when I am arrested. “International law” as it is practiced today has no overriding central authority empowered to enforce compliance. They are simply a collection of formal and informal agreements and treaties (some of which are very important and others are not) which are often ignored by countries when they desire. an example is out extradition tries with many countries. We have one with Russia and so technically, according to international law Edward Snowden should be handed over to the FBI for extradition back to the United States to stand trial for treason. However, because Russia likes what he did, they refuse to honor this request legitimate by the United States. Criminals often do this to escape punishment for their crimes. When these laws are broken the only recourse is either diplomatic talks/compromises (several years ago we exchanged captured spies with Russia, even though both parties were guilty of breaking international treaties nobody was held responsible, or how we constantly complain about the Chinese military hacking U.S. companies), sanctions (such as those against Iran and North Korea right now for their nuclear programs) or war (like the kind we threaten if N. Korea breaks the ceasefire and launches a huge attack on South Korea, apparently only small attacks are allowed). I guess this is my long winded way of saying that a country has always had the right to defend itself and this will include spying activities by any government that has the technological ability to do so (there are many things which governments are allowed to do that private citizens are not). So people can complain and pretend like they are shocked but while you are correct that “everybody does it” does not excuse illegal activity, when it comes to International law, what “everybody does” is really the law much more than what they sign a paper saying they are doing (the Kyoto protocols are a perfect example, almost no country who signed that has lived up to it).

        • David

          Typed this stream of consciousness and hit send without looking for typing errors. Hopefully I can gt the copy erased (when I hit deleted it only deleted my name not the actual text. So here we go again after looking for typos.

          These are good points. However, I would answer with this. Common law
          (as in the laws of a country), whether voted on directly (as in direct
          democratic rule), indirectly, such as when people elect others to vote
          in their place (i.e. representative democracies, that most countries
          have) or laws imposed by a totalitarian government (actively or
          passively allowed by the citizens) are all laws that are one way or
          another created by the people of a sovereign nation. In fact,
          sovereignty is defined by the ability to pass and enforce these laws with
          legitimate use of force. If I think drug laws in the U.S. are old and
          antiquated, I am not just free to openly use drugs and then argue this
          in court when I am arrested. “International law” as it is practiced
          today has no overriding central authority empowered to enforce
          compliance. They are simply a collection of formal and informal
          agreements and treaties (some of which are very important and others are
          not) which are often ignored by countries when they desire.

          An example
          is our extradition treaties with many countries. We have one with Russia
          and so technically, according to international law Edward Snowden should
          be handed over to the FBI for extradition back to the United States to
          stand trial for treason. However, because Russia likes what he did,
          they refuse to honor this legitimate request by the United States.
          Criminals often do this to escape punishment for their crimes.

          When
          these laws are broken the only recourse is either diplomatic
          talks/compromises/complaints (several years ago we exchanged captured spies with
          Russia, even though both parties were guilty of breaking international
          treaties nobody was held responsible, or how we constantly complain
          about the Chinese military hacking U.S. companies), sanctions (such as
          those against Iran and North Korea right now for their nuclear programs)
          or war (like the kind we threaten if N. Korea breaks the ceasefire and
          launches a huge attack on South Korea, apparently only small attacks are
          allowed). I guess this is my long winded way of saying that a country
          has always had the right to defend itself and this will include spying
          activities by any government that has the technological ability to do so
          (there are many things which governments are allowed to do that private
          citizens are not). So people can complain and pretend like they are
          shocked but while you are correct that “everybody does it” does not
          excuse illegal activity, when it comes to International law, what
          “everybody does” is really the law much more than what they sign a paper
          saying they are doing (the Kyoto protocols are a perfect example,
          almost no country who signed that has lived up to it).

          • commander

            For your information, whether a state hand over a criminal wanted by another country on the latter’s request based a bilateral extradition treaty falls on the judgement of tye requeated country in consideration of the accord’s articles.

            Number two, while many power-oriented realists often discount international law’s importance in keeping international stability, international law contributes to a stable international community.

            Number three, the American rejection of the Kyoto Protocol’s ratification is completely consistent with international law, though the US is slammed for its refusal, which was also made against the parlimentary approval of the CTBT, a nuclear test ban treaty adopted in the 1990s.

            Number four, should your case is acknowledged China’s alleged espionage against American frims for corporate secrets will not be subject condemnations.

          • David

            Well, I think you miss my point so I will try once more (more simply) than let it go. International law is a mild stabilizing force in that it informs countries what is expected of them on the international spotlight. However, for large countries (the U.S., Russia, Germany, China, Japan etc…) more often than not it is ignored when thy find it in their best best interests to do so. And if your a smaller country you simply find a bigger country to ally with and play off against its enemy (the way N. Korea is protected by China and the way Iran is protected by Russia from more serious sanctions for breaking international law with their nuclear programs). Usually a country will make some flimsy excuse for doing so as opposed to just saying “screw you” to the rest of the world but whatever diplomatic charade they use, has the same results. In this way the term “law” is a misnomer. It does not represent something that can not be broken (like the second law of thermodynamics) or something which can be enforce easily with no effect on the rest of the country (like arresting a criminal as opposed to going to war to enforce something). So the idea of another government being upset that the United States spies on other countries (including its allies) seems very disingenuous to me. I do understand PEOPLE being unhappy but government officials (especially those involved in the intelligence field) are directly or indirectly doing the same thing. When we catch spying being done in the U.S. and it is reported in the news we may be pissed off about it but more likely we are mad at our own counter-intelligence service for failing. One of the biggest spy scandals carried out against the U.S. in recent decades was by an American (Johnathan Pollard) working for Israel not the Soviet Union (not to mention a man named Franklin which is much more recent). Anyway, that is my take on it. I don’t expect everybody to agree with me.

          • commander

            There seems to be misunderstanding on international law.

            Compared with domestic law, international law from customs and treaties, is primitive and has much weaker enforcent systems.

            But the existence of such a norm prevents states, strong and weak, from commiting serious harmful conduct.

            And in economic areas international law is not a push over. Take the WTO for example.

            Can the United States disregard WTO rules just because some restraints are not in the American interests? A big No.

            Even the United States sought to find basis for justifying its invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan with the aim of detecting and destorying WMDs there in the wake of Sept. 11 terrorists attacks, illustrating that international law breach and subsequent mounting international criticism can constrain the leeway of the world’s most powerful country.

            The realist theory in international politics where the powerful prevails over the weak and dictates the latter to do what they dont want to do is not always tenable.

            And the dominant countries which benefit the most from maintaining the status quo feel the necessity of seeking rules-based order in a bid to head off the weakening of its power that is caused if at every turn it is required to use force to keep ita vital interests.

            And such a order , lowering its order maintaining costa, occasionally restrain the latitude by atrong powers–a important role that international law plays as a stabilizer of international order though not always successful.

          • David

            I actually agree with a lot of what you just said. In economic matters, in particular, international law is very effective. However, on a micro-economic level more so than a macro-economic level., However, I think it has more to do with the fact that these are mostly agreements carried out by private corporations with each other (who, in most cases, can be held accountable by their own countries legal systems) and which WANT things to work. I am really not a Might-Makes-Right kind of guy. I think you get a lot further with cooperation then bullying and I find a stable world a much nicer place to live than an unstable one. However, I don’t think my morals jive with that of most governments, who tend to be amoral.

  • Abubu Khan

    Can you imagine the vital information per speech act contained in Park Geunhye’s phone calls? That’s some tedious shit.

  • commander

    Media reports of NSA infiltration into Yahoo and Google data centers for collecting information for national security appear to nudge the phone bugging scandal back toward raising the problem of unbridled privacy invasion in the United States by the intelligence organization, dealing a setback to Obama’s presidential leadership, along with the malfunctioning website that was supposed to carry out the president’s signature healthcare legislation.

  • takasar1

    this backlash is quite confusing to me. maybe people in korea (and the world) seem to believe/believed that america was this great nation that stood for righteousness and was force for the greater good. now i’m guessing that they have realised that the US is no different from china or any other country for that matter and are deciding to throw a hissy fit because their assumptions were wrong. all countries spy on each other! its a shame that people who told you this before were denounced as conspiracy theorists, while now it only takes one american whistle-blower to remind you that the world you live in isnt a utopia.

  • Sunkyo

    Mixed feelings about the issue…. Surveillance to monitor terrorist cells is necessary, but surveillance on friendly nations seems quite disconcerting….. But, as for South Korea, there really was no reason to eavesdrop on things like our election because it was already rigged so that the conservatives (abominable remnants of the old, pestering dictatorship) can again keep their power.. Well after 9/11, American intelligence communities did get oversized and, i guess, got paranoid…

  • mark656

    I Greet B. Marek Biały http://youtu.be/jRZxF68wJ3s

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