Friends or Foes? Berlin Must Protect Germans from US Spying

Pressure is on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to confront US spying allegations head on. 

The German government has failed to protect the public from the NSA's surveillance program and should be held accountable. On both a national and an EU level, there needs to be an independent investigation into the scandal. German Chancellor Angela Merkel finally got around to commenting on Monday, two days after SPIEGEL reported that the NSA has been storing and evaluating data from around half a billion communications connections in Germany each month. Her reaction, to be sure, was harsh. "The monitoring of friends -- this is unacceptable. It can't be tolerated. We're no longer in the Cold War," she said through her spokesman Steffen Seibert. But the dimensions of US data surveillance -- and the fact that much of that data was collected in Europe -- have been generally known for weeks, as a result of documents made public by Edward Snowden. Yet when US President Barack Obama visited Berlin in June, the Chancellor merely asked a few polite questions. That was it.

German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich also appeared to be trying to make up for lost time on Monday, demanding an apology from the US in an interview with the news magazine Focus. "If the reports are confirmed, it would be a burden on the trust between the EU and the US," he said.

Europe Reacts to NSA Spying

It took a while for the full dimensions of Snowden's allegations to sink in with Germany's politicians. And yet Snowden himself uttered the key allegation three weeks ago. "Any NSA analyst at any time can target anyone," he said, "from a federal judge to the president." All that's needed is an email address. Thanks to Snowden, Germans now know that this happens on a vast scale, even in their own country.

The US government points to the war on terror to justify its surveillance activities. In order to effectively tackle international terrorism, so goes the rhetoric, much has to be allowed -- all in the name of protecting the West. As Obama says: "You can't have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience."

"Information Superiority"

Now that Snowden has afforded the world a glimpse of the inner workings of the NSA, it has become clear that Obama is, at best, telling only a small portion of the truth. With evidence indicating that the NSA bugged EU offices and summits in Brussels attended by world leaders, the fight on terror is no longer a valid excuse. Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and European Parliament President Martin Schulz don't seriously pose a threat to anyone.

The Americans' colossal spying operation smacks of totalitarianism. SPIEGEL has viewed an internal NSA presentation which lays out a vision of "Information Superiority": a worldwide dominance of information networks. This vision was drawn up several years ago and it seems safe to assume that the US has come a significant step closer to implementing it since then. In it, the NSA openly refers to Germany as both a friend and a foe. "We can, and often do, target the signals of most third party foreign partners," it boasts.


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commented 2013-07-04 23:19:55 -0400 · Flag
B.T.P. writes:

Thanks to bush, all the excuses we needed to become fully statist-orwellian were created with this grotesque leviathan spawn known as dhs. Bush was the assclown who funded this original giant trojan horse. He should be judged as the nincompoop that has always been.
commented 2013-07-04 23:18:55 -0400 · Flag
A.R. writes:

Damn it…at what point does the peasantry say “enough” and take this police state down…? “Homeland Security” has been perverted into an excuse to turn the USA into the United Police State of America.