I wrote about this before in my September 10, 2013 Eagle Rising column, “Should the NSA Be Spanked?” In my earlier column, I discussed the NSA’s treatment of the presidents of Brazil and Mexico, two of our allies and trading partners right here in the Western Hemisphere. Now, it seems that several of our European friends have received the same treatment from the hands and bugs in the NSA.
Germany, France, and Spain have all been placed under the digital microscope. None other than German Chancellor, Angela Merkel has been spied upon. President Obama called her and apologized and said that if he had known that her cell phone had been compromised, he would have put a stop to it…but he didn’t know.
That has been refuted by Bild am Sonntag, the largest selling German Sunday newspaper. The paper has stated that Obama was informed in 2010 that Chancellor Merkel has been under digital surveillance. That has been denied by both NSA and White House spokespersons, but the denials don’t ring true according to a well respected German think tank. According to Reuters, White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden declined to comment. She has fallen back on the old “Everyone is doing it” excuse that would not have stood the test of my parents’ logic.
Actually, it all started with George W. Bush when the then Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder declined supporting the U.S. effort in Iraq and has continued into Merkel’s administration. According to one source, President Obama doesn’t trust Chancellor Merkel and ordered a dossier to be compiled on her.
Since 2008 when the United States opened its new embassy in Berlin, the roof has been filled with all sorts of antennae that have made the Germans quite nervous. The devices have been cleverly hidden, but they are nonetheless there to intercept cell phone and other wireless communications. One estimate is that a half a billion cell phone and emails are intercepted each month. It is reminiscent of the old East German Stasi and the Nazi secret police that served Nazi and then the Communist regimes so efficiently.
The U.S. excuse is that all of this surveillance is necessary to counter the terrorist activity that is so prominent in the world today and in Germany in particular. But the Germans are equally concerned that intelligence may also be used to undermine fair trade agreements. Most thoughtful people, including Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), feel that this is an over-reach and is simply an indication of the present administration’s paranoia.
I have always refused to be embarrassed by the actions of other people, even my own children, but I have to rethink that position with this latest news about our penchant for intelligence gathering at any cost. Machiavelli’s dictum that the “end justifies the means” may be more than I can stomach. I am embarrassed by the actions of some of our leaders who seem to be thrashing around, reaching out in an attempt to grasp any bit of intelligence that will make them look as though they are doing something worthwhile.
Are we prepared to pay the price of alienating all of our friends and allies in order to save face and avoid another terrorist disaster? Who will come to our aid when we need help? Who will be there for us to ally with when nobody in the world can trust us any more?
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com