Over the weekend, the German weekly Der Spiegel said the NSA bugged European Union offices in Washington, Brussels, and at the U.N. in New York, and infiltrated EU computers to monitor telephone conversations, e-mails, and other documents.
EU officials aren’t happy.
The president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, said Sunday that if the reports are true ‘it would have a severe impact on EU-U.S. relations,’ according to voanews.
Germany’s justice minister accused the U.S. of using Cold War spying tactics against allies. Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said it is ‘beyond comprehension that our friends in the U.S. see Europeans as enemies.’
Some have called for a suspension of talks on the trans-Atlantic free trade agreement.
Will other areas of legal cooperation be damaged?
Two weeks ago, Mythili Raman, the acting head of the DOJ’s criminal division, trumpeted growing U.S.-European cooperation in anti-bribery enforcement.
During her keynote at the Global Anti-Corruption Congress, she said recent enforcement against French oil and gas company Total highlighted ‘the continuing and encouraging rise in cross-border cooperation,’ which she described as an ‘important shift in the anti-corruption realm.’
On the same day that Total paid $398 million to settle criminal and civil FCPA charges, she said, French authorities requested that Total, its chairman and CEO, and two others ‘be referred to the French Criminal Court for violations of French law, including France’s foreign bribery law.’
The Total case represents the first ever coordinated action by U.S. and French law enforcement in a foreign bribery case; and because of that close collaboration, Total now faces criminal consequences across two continents. This unprecedented, joint action by U.S. and French authorities reflects our renewed commitment to work as closely as we can with our foreign counterparts to stamp out bribery across the globe.
The DOJ also worked with German authorities in the Siemens enforcement action in late 2008, the first major example of cross-border anti-bribery cooperation.
In its weekend story, Der Spiegel reported that the NSA typically monitored about 20 million German phone connections and 10 million Internet data sets a day, and up to 60 million phone connections on busy days.
The magazine said in France the U.S. taps about two million data connections per day.
A 2010 NSA document indicated that only four countries are exempt from monitoring — Britain, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand — because of their close friendship with the U.S.