Spies Do Not Distinguish Between Friend and Foe

      April 11, 2023 13:45

      Confidential U.S. documents that were leaked on social media last week raise strong suspicions that the CIA wiretapped South Korea and other allies. The cache includes sensitive conversations between high-ranking officials at the Office of National Security about the indirect supply of munitions to Ukraine. The presidential office was tight-lipped about the breach, saying the first priority is to assess the veracity of the latest revelations and raised suspicions that certain forces could be attempting to drive a rift between the U.S. and its allies. The government could check the veracity of the revelations simply by asking former presidential security chief Kim Sung-han, who is mentioned in the leaked documents and stepped down just a couple of weeks ago, if the conversations happened. If electronic eavesdropping did occur, then the government must take proper diplomatic steps to address the situation.
      But it must remember that spying makes no distinction between friend and foe. That is an open secret in the intelligence community, and the U.S. is not alone when it comes to electronic eavesdropping. The so-called Five Eyes intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S. habitually spy on their allies, and South Korea also spies on other nations. This is a national security matter and has nothing to do with spying on individual citizens.
      This is not the first time that the U.S. has been accused of widespread wiretapping. Edward Snowden, a former American computer intelligence consultant revealed in 2013 that the U.S. eavesdropped on the e-mails and phone calls of South Korea, Germany and other allies. Even then German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone was bugged. This practice will continue as long as nations exist, and it would be foolish of a government to make too much of it.
      The main opposition Minjoo Party's calls to summon the U.S. ambassador or blame the wiretaps on President Yoon Suk-yeol's decision to relocate the presidential office are silly and politically motivated. China, Russia and the U.S. probably eavesdropped on the government when the president came from the Minjoo Party. South Korea is an intelligence hotspot due to its proximity to North Korea and other powers. The practice will continue to exist, and it is unfortunately up to the government to try and avoid being wiretapped and strengthen its own intelligence capacities.

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