October 28, 2013

The NSA DID spy on Merkel, and others

The National Security Agency's claim that President Obama didn't know about any spying on West German Chancellor Angela Merkel means, in essence, that despite last week's non-denial denials, it's officially letting the cat out of the bag now.

A decade-plus worth of cats, that is. The spying reportedly goes all the way back to 2002.

Meanwhile, Republican Congresscritter Mike Rogers blathers:
Leaked information about surveillance by the NSA is being "misinterpreted,'' Rogers said on CNN's State of the Union. "This was about a counterterrorism program that had nothing to do with French citizens,'' he said. "If the French citizens knew exactly what that was about, they would be applauding and popping champagne corks.''

Rogers called criticism of the U.S. intelligence operations from European leaders "disingenuous.''
"It's a good thing. It keeps the French safe, it keeps the U.S. safe. It keeps our European allies safe. This whole notion that we're going to go after each other on what is really legitimate protection of nation-state interests I think is disingenuous.''

The American people, a fair amount of them, probably still are that dumb. The French, no.

That said, other nations that are our allies have spied on each other, and us, even, for nation-state reasons before. The French are renowned for trade espionage.
(And, if you think any NSA head would sign off on spying on a foreign leader without telling the Prez, I got some washed-clean shiny-new beachfront property in Atlantic City to sell you.)
Meanwhile, EU member nations are talking about firing back. Not with their own Internet servers, at least not yet, but something practical, simple, and a lesser escalation, but enough of a shot across the bow. They want to suspend a post-9/11 agreement on tracking banking records. Given that this, too, can be used against folks besides al-Qaeda (and with legit uses, like tracking Mafia money) the US should take this seriously.
That is, if the EU follows through. 
And, isn't this part and parcel with US complaints that Europe is still, in general, a "free rider" on a lot of defense issues? So, let the EU suspend SWIFT. Let's see what happens next, part of me says.

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