High-level talks in NSA spy row


Tribune Staff Reporter


FOREIGN Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell yesterday defended his handling of the situation surrounding the recording of all cellphone calls in the Bahamas saying that meetings are being held at the “highest levels” to get to the bottom of it. 

Mr Mitchell was criticised after he flew to Guyana on Tuesday afternoon for an international conference despite mounting concerns of Bahamian cellphones being tapped by the US National Security Agency (NSA). 

On Wednesday, former Foreign Affairs Minister Brent Symonette said if he were still in the seat as head of foreign affairs, he would have already flown to the US to deal with the matter. 

Mr Mitchell said several diplomatic meetings have been held in the US, including the most recent when the head of the Bahamas’ foreign service met the US deputy assistant Secretary of State in Washington. 

“That is the appropriate level,” he said. “I am in constant communication with American officials on a daily basis.”

According to Mr Mitchell US representatives have vowed to investigate the accuracy of information posted in an article on The Intercept, obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. 

The US House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday, the USA Freedom Act, that would eventually see to it that the NSA destroy all call detail records that do not contain foreign intelligence information. 

Although the bill has been described by some as “diluted” and “watered down”, it has also been credited for its potential to better protect the privacy of Americans.

As far as the same deletion of Bahamian phone calls is concerned, Mr Mitchell refused to comment saying, “I will not engage in any speculation.”

The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) has since denied having any knowledge of phone tapping going on in the Bahamas. 

According to Mr Mitchell there is another high level political meeting planned at the Organisation of American States (OAS) meeting in Paraguay early next month. 

Yesterday, WikiLeaks, an online publication that releases secret government information, reiterated their promise to identify the second country whose phonecalls are being monitored by the NSA, despite warnings that the release of that name could result in deaths. 

Most recently China became embroiled in a dispute with the US over cyber spying after five of their countrymen were charged with the crime. The Tribune has contacted the Chinese Embassy in the Bahamas for comment; however, they refused and directed the newspaper to their government’s website.  


GrassRoot 8 years, 4 months ago

Talking is good. Talking is what we are good at. Talking on the "highest level". Apparently not if the Minister in charge is not present in the talks.


GrassRoot 8 years, 4 months ago

but we have to give him that, he is talking - somewhere about something.


carlh57 8 years, 4 months ago

"highest level" which means to Mitchell "me, myself and I".....haha


Kalypso 8 years, 4 months ago

Talk??? Time to do something!


Cobalt 8 years, 4 months ago

Something like what??? Threaten the U.S.??? They've got cutting edge technology for crying out loud. We don't have the technology to contend with the United States. We're "small fish" on the global scale. The only thing the Bahamas can do in this matter is complain. Maybe if the Bahamas produced physicists, chemist, and mathematical engineers, we would be able to engineer our own technology to protect ourselves. But the last time I checked, engineering took "brains and smarts." And unfortunately for the Bahamas, the national GPA for the past three decades has been an F. Which means that we're pretty much a nation of "dummies."The undeniable, unavoidable truth is... It's time for the Bahamas to reap the seeds that it has sown!


Purcell 8 years, 4 months ago

"The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) has since denied having any knowledge of phone tapping going on in the Bahamas. "

Impossible. Without BTC cooperation they would not have been able to do it. The documents clearly explain that the government gave DEA (through instructing BTC) access to the network layer of cell phone communications.


Cobalt 8 years, 4 months ago

Listen.... the U.S. has sophisticated weaponry, and technology that can by pass any security system in the world. How do you think that they've been able to dominated the most powerful of countries??? They use this technology to infiltrate the most advance of civilization. It would only take about two scientist from NASA to produce a system capable of spying on the entire Western Hemisphere! They don't need approval from BTC or anyone else! Once the CIA gives the go-ahead, then they act. Seizing control of a county's telecommunications network is an easy task for their scientific engineers. They've perfected this skill a long time ago. People in the Bahamas better wake up. I'm not saying that the FNM didn't give them permission; but I am saying that they would be spying on us whether permission was granted or not. The U.S. has been spying on us ever since Sir Lynden Pindling and his PLP allowed Joe Leadher to operate a cocaine hub in Normans Cay Exuma. Wake up people!!


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Reality_Check 8 years, 4 months ago

U.S. foreign policy as regards the Bahamas is to destabilize its economic and financial condition as quickly as possible through the international lending agencies that it still controls (e.g., IMF, World Bank, International Development Bank, etc.) in order to thwart as much as possible the establishment by the Chinese of a strong hold base of operations just off the coast of Florida. The U.S. cringes at the very thought of the Bahamas granting China's military apparatus deep water naval bases and access to the Tongue of the Ocean trench for the upcoming latest generation of very stealthy Chinese warships and submarines armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons. The U.S. has to some extent brought this nightmare upon themselves by allowing our traditional democratic processes, welfare safety net and health care and educational systems to be seriously comprised by decades of illegal immigration from Haiti. We needed foreign aid from the U.S. and not burdensome foreign loans the various international lending agencies controlled by the U.S. The U.S. is going to pay a dear price for its short sighted and unfriendly attitude towards the Bahamas unless it quickly makes the necessary policy changes to right the wrongs of its current failed policies towards us as a nation on its doorstep.


Reality_Check 8 years, 4 months ago

It's not too difficult to imagine a new Chinese-Russian world order that has a friendly strong foothold in places like the Bahamas and Cuba for decades to come.


TheMadHatter 8 years, 4 months ago

An overview of the situation :


Let me note also, that there is NOTHING that can be done about it. I encourage anyone to check the shipping manifests of the ships that bring FOOD into this country and determine the origin of our FOOD. Lest you did not know, it is the USA. Hand over your data or starve to death - it's that simple.



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