WASHINGTON, June 24 (Sputnik) — Reports that the US National Security Agency (NSA) spied on three French presidents and that Britain’s General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) monitored two human rights groups reveal a US-led intelligence alliance out of control, experts told Sputnik.
“This kind of thing happens routinely,” retired US Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor said on Tuesday. “It reflects a general attitude among senior officials in the major US intelligence agencies.”
The National Security Council denied later on Tuesday that President Hollande has been spied on.
In another revelation, GCHQ spied on South African Legal Resources Centre and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Britain’s official Investigatory Powers Tribunal revealed.
Another expert noted that the involvement of GCHQ reflected the longstanding secret cooperation between the United States other intelligence services.
“As the Edward Snowden documents made clear, the combined ‘Five Eyes’ group of spy agencies (US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) are totally out of control and acting outside the law,” Executive Intelligence Review Senior Editor Jeff Steinberg said.
Steinberg said he was not surprise that GCHQ had spied on human rights organizations.
“If the NSA can be spying on [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel and different French leaders, then why presume that anyone is outside the bounds of targeted spying,” Steinberg asked.
Macgregor added that when US President Barack Obama entered office in January 2009, he did not try to replace most senior intelligence officials, and allowed the ones he inherited to continue the practices of the George W. Bush administration.
“When Barack Obama became president he never purged the senior politically-appointed executive ranks of the intelligence community,” he said.
Many neoconservatives and other hawks appointed by Bush’s Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his team, or by their counterparts in the intelligence community, remained in their old jobs, Macgregor noted.
“So although we had a change of administration, the same people from the Bush administration remained in their old key positions and they continued to shape the perceptions of senior officials on national security, surveillance and defense issues,” he continued.
The consensus among US intelligence community senior officials “is always to hype up the threat levels,” Macgregor added.
Steinberg described the “Five Eyes” agreement as “particularly odious, because under secret treaty agreements, the five Sigint [signal intelligence] spy agencies work in tandem, and use their special cooperation to evade the laws [of their own countries] with reckless abandon.”
The expert noted if the NSA wants to target some individual or agency that is outside the scope of US law, and they fear getting caught, they will ask GCHQ or the other allied agencies to do the spying for them and share the information.