If there is one thing we can take for granted, then it is that secret intelligence services use the most devious practitioners at law they can find.
Witness the “foreigner clause” oft cited in discussions concerning the legality of snooping activities recently made public by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
By the time the legal counsel employed by the intelligence services had finished their fisematente the official interpretation of that clause had become: „We can use any information not obtained by *directly* spying on our own citizens“. Ergo, information that was obtained from foreign intelligence partners, to whom the requesting country’s citizens are "foreigners", had become fair game.
Under this interpretation prominent politicians’ claims of "we don’t spy on our citizens" are *technically* the truth. They are also proof that the most clever lies always contain as much truth as possible.
In view of the latest revelations about the UK’s electronic surveillance agency GCHQ, and in light of the common knowledge about "partnerships" between intelligence services, we can now safely assume that the "foreigner clause" provides exactly ZERO protection of civil rights in any country. And the EU’s current posturing vis-a-vis the NSA‘s PRISM program can only be seen as a Privacy Circus.
Don’t forget: We all are foreigners somewhere and the intelligence services’ main objective is the preservation of the status quo of the power structures that assure their excessive budgets and privileges. An objective for which they will also share information with enemies, if necessary.