Tuesday 4 March 2003

Tight lips over buggers' tricks

The United States Government has so far not responded to claims that their electronic spying organisation is bugging delegations at the United Nations Security Council as part of the Bush Administration's efforts to win a second resolution on Iraq.

But an intelligence expert on the National Security Agency said yesterday that a memo leaked to Britain's Observer newspaper about the alleged operation looked "authentic".

James Bamford, author of two books on the NSA, also believed that the agency would have sent the memo to Australia's electronic spying agency, DSD. The memo outlines an aggressive effort to target six UN Security Council members - Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria, Guinea and Pakistan - all non-permanent members who joined the Security Council in January. It appears to be written to the NSA's allied agencies overseas but the "recipients" have been deleted.

Mr Bamford says the agency had a long history of spying on the UN. He said the memo, if it is authentic, looks as if it was sent to the British electronic spy agency, GCHQ, which works with the NSA, and was probably copied to its Australian counterpart, DSD. "Australia would have been a recipient of it, but the main focus would have been directed at the UK with their access to Africa. Plus they're trying to get the same result as the US."

The memo, dated January 31, notes that the recipients could hear more about the request "in formal channels", implying either agency heads or government channels would take up the issue.

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