[A2k] New York Times: Spying by N.S.A. Ally Entangled U.S. Law Firm
thiru at keionline.org
Sun Feb 16 01:16:05 PST 2014
U.S. <http://www.nytimes.com/pages/national/index.html>Spying by N.S.A.
Ally Entangled U.S. Law Firm
By JAMES RISEN<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/james_risen/index.html>
and LAURA POITRASFEB. 15, 2014
The list of those caught up in the global surveillance net cast by the
National Security Agency and its overseas partners, from social media users
to foreign heads of state, now includes another entry: American lawyers.
The government of Indonesia had retained the law firm for help in trade
talks, according to the February 2013 document. It reports that the
N.S.A.'s Australian counterpart, the Australian Signals
notified the agency that it was conducting surveillance of the talks,
including communications between Indonesian officials and the American law
firm, and offered to share the information.
The Australians told officials at an N.S.A. liaison office in Canberra,
Australia, that "information covered by attorney-client privilege may be
included" in the intelligence gathering, according to the document, a
monthly bulletin from the Canberra office. The law firm was not identified,
but Mayer Brown, a Chicago-based firm with a global practice, was then
advising the Indonesian government on trade issues.
Duane Layton, a Mayer Brown lawyer involved in the trade talks, said he did
not have any evidence that he or his firm had been under scrutiny by
Australian or American intelligence agencies. "I always wonder if someone
is listening, because you would have to be an idiot not to wonder in this
day and age," he said in an interview. "But I've never really thought I was
being spied on."
The 2013 N.S.A. bulletin did not identify which trade case was being
monitored by Australian intelligence, but Indonesia has been embroiled in
several disputes with the United States in recent years. One involves clove
an Indonesian export. The Indonesian government has protested to the World
Trade Organization a United States ban on their sale, arguing that similar
menthol cigarettes have not been subject to the same
American antismoking laws. The trade organization, ruling that the United
States prohibition violated international trade laws,referred the case to
determine potential remedies for Indonesia.
Another dispute involved Indonesia's exports of shrimp, which the United
States claimed were being sold at below-market prices.
The Indonesian government retained Mayer Brown to help in the cases
concerning cigarettes and shrimp, said Ni Made Ayu Marthini, attaché for
trade and industry at the Indonesian Embassy in Washington. She said no
American law firm had been formally retained yet to help in a third case,
involving horticultural and animal products.
Mr. Layton, a lawyer in the Washington office of Mayer Brown, said that
since 2010 he had led a team from the firm in the clove cigarette dispute.
He said Matthew McConkey, another lawyer in the firm's Washington office,
had taken the lead on the shrimp issue until the United States dropped its
claims in August. Both cases were underway a year ago when the Australians
reported that their surveillance included an American law firm.
Mr. Layton said that if his emails and calls with Indonesian officials had
been monitored, the spies would have been bored. "None of this stuff is
very sexy," he said. "It's just run of the mill."
He and the other Mayer Brown lawyers do most of their work on the trade
issues from Washington, he said. They also make occasional trips to
Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, and Geneva, where the World Trade
Organization is based. Mr. Layton said most of his communications with
officials in Jakarta had been done through email, while he also talked by
phone with officials at the Indonesian Embassy in Washington.
In addition to its work on trade issues with the United States, Mr. Layton
said, Mayer Brown was representing Indonesia in a dispute with Australia.
He said Indonesia had been arguing that Australia's requirements for plain
packaging for tobacco products under its antismoking rules were excessive.
Even though the Indonesian issues were relatively modest for the United
States -- about $40 million in annual trade is related to the clove
cigarette dispute and $1 billion annually to shrimp -- the Australian
surveillance of talks underscores the extent to which the N.S.A. and its
close partners engage in economic espionage.
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