NSA and Canadian spooks illegally spied on diplomats at Toronto G20 summit

A new Snowden leak reveals that the NSA worked with the Canadian spy agency CSEC to illegally spy on diplomats attending the G20 summit in Toronto in 2010 (an earlier leak revealed that the NSA also spied on the 2009 G20 summit in London).

The leak is significant for many reasons, but especially because it adds to the evidence that the NSA's's bulk surveillance capabilities are an instrument of US trade policy, used to spy on diplomats from friendly countries in order to cheat on trade negotiations, winning tactical advantages through unethical and illegal means. It's the sort of state-sponsored industrial espionage that the US and Canada frequently accuse China of — takes one to know one, I suppose.

Also noteworthy is the fact that CSEC is not allowed to spy on Canadians, nor on visitors to Canada. It may be that they circumvented the law by assisting the NSA to spy in Canada. Similar allegations have been made about the NSA and the British spy agency GCHQ; they are rumored to have an established process of asking one-another to spy on their own citizens in order to stay in technical compliance with the rules that prohibit domestic spying: "We didn't spy on our own people; we asked these foreign spooks to spy on them and give the information to us. It's totally different."

The NSA and its Canadian "partner," the Communications Security Establishment Canada, gather foreign intelligence for their respective governments by covertly intercepting phone calls and hacking into computer systems around the world.

The secret documents do not reveal the precise targets of so much espionage by the NSA — and possibly its Canadian partner — during the Toronto summit.

But both the U.S. and Canadian intelligence agencies have been implicated with their British counterpart in hacking the phone calls and emails of foreign politicians and diplomats attending the G20 summit in London in 2009 — a scant few months before the Toronto gathering of the same world leaders.

Notably, the secret NSA briefing document describes part of the U.S. eavesdropping agency's mandate at the Toronto summit as "providing support to policymakers."

New Snowden docs show U.S. spied during G20 in Toronto [Greg Weston, Glenn Greenwald, Ryan Gallagher/CBC News]