Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The National Security Agency Is So Out of Control It’s Now a National Security Risk


It's been a chaotic few days in the nation's capital, ever since the US government was caught tapping the phone calls of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and spying on 35 other world leaders, including those from countries we're supposed to be friends with. The revelations about the NSA's dragnet domestic surveillance were troubling enough, but the discovery that the US is gathering intelligence on foreign, friendly leaders has taken the spying scandal into new waters. Now it's not just a privacy debate; it's a diplomatic problem.

The new insight into the scope of the intelligence gathering is straining America's relationships with its allies, landing the country once again on thin ice with the rest of the world. Germany, France, Italy, Mexico and others have publicly blasted the US for snooping on them. Brazil and Germany want to build their own internet without America. 

Did the NSA go ahead and hack into the phone calls and emails of America's allies without bothering to mention it to the president of America?  

If the government isn't able to assuage concerns about its overreaching intelligence programs, the resulting international tension could, ironically enough, wind up having national security consequences. "Alienating key leaders—and broad public opinion—in friendly countries is a dumb, counterproductive way to fight terrorism," Eugene Robinson bluntly put it in an editorial in the Washington Post.

All this mounting tension and international calls for accountability has set off something of a witch hunt in Washington for where to point the blame. There have been conflicting reports on whether or not President Obama knew about the program to spy on US allies—which started back in 2002, before either Merkel or Obama was a head of their respective states. Here's a quick recap of the he said/she said:

For the rest of the story:

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