The National Security Agency is in the news again, this time for spying on our allies. According to a Oct. 23 Huffington Post article by Geir Moulson and John-Thot Dahlburg, the German government has gone from asking vague questions about the NSA that surfaced this summer to demanding answers. The Washington Post reported in October that there is a ongoing diplomatic confrontation between the European Union and the United States.
A recent article in Time Magazine pointed out that the U.S. is not the only one spying on its allies. It is not only an accepted practice, the column argued, but one that should be continued.
In a quote from the Time piece, “Spies Like Us: Friends Always Spy on Friends,” the former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said, “Let’s be honest, we eavesdrop too. Everyone is listening to everyone else. We don’t have the same means as the United States, which makes us jealous.”
Yes, we are such friends that the German people are forcing their government to put in strict data sharing provisions and laws that were earlier dropped at the request of the U.S.
What was Merkel’s response to intelligence reports stating that her phone was bugged? She compared the U.S. to Soviet Russia with its own secret police. Does Time expect us to find this flattering?
Granted, according to the Guardian, the German people themselves are not only mad at the U.S., but at Merkel herself: the chancellor is mad only because she herself is now being spied on.
This story has undertaken a remarkable transformation. It has gone from the U.S. spying illegally on its own citizens to spying on its friends. While it’s easy to dismiss this as not a big deal, people in both countries are rightly angry.
I am giddy at the change in narrative from the White House. When the news first broke this summer, the president said that nobody’s emails were being picked through – that this was not the point of the NSA program. Now that we’re facing accusations of spying from foreign allies, the White House says it had no idea that the NSA was up to no good.
To use a logical fork here, either the president didn’t know what the NSA was up to, or the president knew what the NSA was up to all along and just didn’t say it the first time. Either way, I’m tired of the man who was running for office opposing the Patriot Act counting himself among its staunchest supporters. As for the world being angry about being spied on, I guess we can either let our leaders trade our rights away for favors at brunch or elect people with a backbone.
It’d be nice if our generation started voting, but I’m not holding by breath, just my calls.
Patrick White is a senior in journalism and electronic media. Please send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.