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From Antiwar.com:



Report: NSA Tapped Vatican Phones During Papal Conclave
NSA Insists They 'Don't Target the Vatican'
by Jason Ditz, October 30, 2013



A new report from Italian news magazine Panorama is the latest in a growing number of reports on the NSA targeting foreign officials. This time the target was the Vatican, and specifically the Saint Marta Guesthouse where cardinals were staying during the most recent papal conclave.

The eventual Pope Francis that came out of the conclave was reportedly targeted by the NSA as a “person of interest” as far back as 2005, and were tapping assorted targets at the site on the basis of “foreign policy objectives” right through to the selection of the pope, and potentially beyond.

The Vatican said they had no information on such surveillance and “don’t have any concerns about it,” though many other nations have had a much stronger reaction to the revelation of surveillance targeting them.

The NSA shrugged off the report as they have literally every other report on everything else they’ve done, insisting it is “not true” and that the NSA “does not target the Vatican.” Similar blanket denials have been the jumping off point for months of scandals, and usually are followed with more narrow denials and an eventually admission of guilt, along with a claim that the surveillance was legal.
Vox Wrote:OK, so we Yanks are having our tax dollars used to spy on our own Church? Nice.
 
Everybody is spying on everybody. Why should we be surprised?
Contrary to a widely circulated report, the US National Security Agency (NSA) could not have eavesdropped on the conclave that elected Pope Francis, a veteran Vatican journalist has reported.

Andrea Tornielli of La Stampa writes that the Vatican had deployed sophisticated anti-bugging technology in the Sistine Chapel and throughout the apostolic palace in the days leading up to the conclave. The anti-bugging measures were already in place during the general congregations at which cardinals exchanged ideas prior to the opening of the conclave. Reporters who were in the building testified that internet connections were interrupted and cell-phone signals lost when the system was activated.

Vatican security experts take pride in their ability to foil espionage, Tornielli reports. They note, too, that although the hackers’ collective known as “Anonymous” made a concerted attack on the Vatican internet site, they were not able to gain access to the site— although Anonymous has successfully hacked into the sites of many government agencies and multinational corporations.

The Vatican’s anti-bugging measures would not have prevented NSA eavesdropping on the conversations held by prelates outside the apostolic palace, in the days leading up to the conclave. But the NSA insists that the Vatican was not a target, and Vatican officials profess to be unconcerned by the reports of eavesdropping.


http://www.catholicculture.org/news/head...ryid=19546

The claim isn't that they spied on the conclave itself, but before, during, and after it -- they they're spying on the Vatican and on Bishops, etc..
The NSA is a massive bloated unchecked spy network that has been created for "plausible deny ability" no matter what happens .. and BY the way Israel has access to this
via "back door" A backdoor in a computer system (or cryptosystem or algorithm) is a method of bypassing normal authentication, securing illegal remote access to a computer, obtaining access to plaintext, and so on, while attempting to remain undetected. The backdoor may take the form of an installed program (e.g., Back Orifice) or may subvert the system through a rootkit. accessibility .. Basically in the end .. the NSA is a spy tool for Israel
(11-02-2013, 03:30 AM)Poche Wrote: [ -> ]Contrary to a widely circulated report, the US National Security Agency (NSA) could not have eavesdropped on the conclave that elected Pope Francis, a veteran Vatican journalist has reported.

Andrea Tornielli of La Stampa writes that the Vatican had deployed sophisticated anti-bugging technology in the Sistine Chapel and throughout the apostolic palace in the days leading up to the conclave. The anti-bugging measures were already in place during the general congregations at which cardinals exchanged ideas prior to the opening of the conclave. Reporters who were in the building testified that internet connections were interrupted and cell-phone signals lost when the system was activated.

Vatican security experts take pride in their ability to foil espionage, Tornielli reports. They note, too, that although the hackers’ collective known as “Anonymous” made a concerted attack on the Vatican internet site, they were not able to gain access to the site— although Anonymous has successfully hacked into the sites of many government agencies and multinational corporations.

The Vatican’s anti-bugging measures would not have prevented NSA eavesdropping on the conversations held by prelates outside the apostolic palace, in the days leading up to the conclave. But the NSA insists that the Vatican was not a target, and Vatican officials profess to be unconcerned by the reports of eavesdropping.


http://www.catholicculture.org/news/head...ryid=19546

I would not be so sure. The FBI has the capability to turn people's cell phones and thus make them into microphones. It's reasonable to assume the NSA uses this capability as well.
"The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone's microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations.
The technique is called a "roving bug," and was approved by top U.S. Department of Justice officials for use against members of a New York organized crime family who were wary of conventional surveillance techniques such as tailing a suspect or wiretapping him.

Nextel cell phones owned by two alleged mobsters, John Ardito and his attorney Peter Peluso, were used by the FBI to listen in on nearby conversations. The FBI views Ardito as one of the most powerful men in the Genovese family, a major part of the national Mafia.

The surveillance technique came to light in an opinion published this week by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan. He ruled that the "roving bug" was legal because federal wiretapping law is broad enough to permit eavesdropping even of conversations that take place near a suspect's cell phone.

Kaplan's opinion said that the eavesdropping technique "functioned whether the phone was powered on or off." Some handsets can't be fully powered down without removing the battery; for instance, some Nokia models will wake up when turned off if an alarm is set.

While the Genovese crime family prosecution appears to be the first time a remote-eavesdropping mechanism has been used in a criminal case, the technique has been discussed in security circles for years.

The U.S. Commerce Department's security office warns that "a cellular telephone can be turned into a microphone and transmitter for the purpose of listening to conversations in the vicinity of the phone." An article in the Financial Times last year said mobile providers can "remotely install a piece of software on to any handset, without the owner's knowledge, which will activate the microphone even when its owner is not making a call."

Nextel and Samsung handsets and the Motorola Razr are especially vulnerable to software downloads that activate their microphones, said James Atkinson, a counter-surveillance consultant who has worked closely with government agencies. "They can be remotely accessed and made to transmit room audio all the time," he said. "You can do that without having physical access to the phone."

Because modern handsets are miniature computers, downloaded software could modify the usual interface that always displays when a call is in progress. The spyware could then place a call to the FBI and activate the microphone--all without the owner knowing it happened. (The FBI declined to comment on Friday.)

"If a phone has in fact been modified to act as a bug, the only way to counteract that is to either have a bugsweeper follow you around 24-7, which is not practical, or to peel the battery off the phone," Atkinson said. Security-conscious corporate executives routinely remove the batteries from their cell phones, he added.

FBI's physical bugs discovered
The FBI's Joint Organized Crime Task Force, which includes members of the New York police department, had little luck with conventional surveillance of the Genovese family. They did have a confidential source who reported the suspects met at restaurants including Brunello Trattoria in New Rochelle, N.Y., which the FBI then bugged.

But in July 2003, Ardito and his crew discovered bugs in three restaurants, and the FBI quietly removed the rest. Conversations recounted in FBI affidavits show the men were also highly suspicious of being tailed by police and avoided conversations on cell phones whenever possible.

That led the FBI to resort to "roving bugs," first of Ardito's Nextel handset and then of Peluso's. U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones approved them in a series of orders in 2003 and 2004, and said she expected to "be advised of the locations" of the suspects when their conversations were recorded.

Details of how the Nextel bugs worked are sketchy. Court documents, including an affidavit (p1) and (p2) prepared by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Kolodner in September 2003, refer to them as a "listening device placed in the cellular telephone." That phrase could refer to software or hardware.

One private investigator interviewed by CNET News.com, Skipp Porteous of Sherlock Investigations in New York, said he believed the FBI planted a physical bug somewhere in the Nextel handset and did not remotely activate the microphone.

"They had to have physical possession of the phone to do it," Porteous said. "There are several ways that they could have gotten physical possession. Then they monitored the bug from fairly near by."

But other experts thought microphone activation is the more likely scenario, mostly because the battery in a tiny bug would not have lasted a year and because court documents say the bug works anywhere "within the United States"--in other words, outside the range of a nearby FBI agent armed with a radio receiver.

In addition, a paranoid Mafioso likely would be suspicious of any ploy to get him to hand over a cell phone so a bug could be planted. And Kolodner's affidavit seeking a court order lists Ardito's phone number, his 15-digit International Mobile Subscriber Identifier, and lists Nextel Communications as the service provider, all of which would be unnecessary if a physical bug were being planted.

A BBC article from 2004 reported that intelligence agencies routinely employ the remote-activiation method. "A mobile sitting on the desk of a politician or businessman can act as a powerful, undetectable bug," the article said, "enabling them to be activated at a later date to pick up sounds even when the receiver is down."
http://news.cnet.com/2100-1029-6140191.html

C.