After news broke that the US government was monitoring the calls of at least 35 world leaders, many of whom were allies, the question of restraining US spying power became a pressing international issue. Aggrieved countries such as Brazil and Germany are now even turning to the United Nations to rein in the NSA. Both Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and German Prime Minister Angela Merkel have been alerted to spying on their governments by press reports causing outrage in their respective countries.
Brazil and Germany today joined forces to press for the adoption of a U.N. General Resolution that promotes the right of privacy on the internet, marking the first major international effort to restrain the National Security Agency’s intrusions into the online communications of foreigners, according to diplomatic sources familiar with the push.
The effort follows a German claim that the American spy agency may have tapped the private telephone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of other world leaders. It also comes about one month after Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff denounced NSA espionage against her country as “a breach of international law” in a General Assembly speech and proposed that the U.N. establish legal guidelines to prevent “cyberspace from being used as a weapon of war.”
Both Brazil and Germany consider themselves, or did consider themselves, to have friendly relations with the United States. Germany has an extremely close relationship that includes US military bases in their country as well as participation in NATO missions such as Afghanistan.
France, another friendly nation, has also joined with Germany and other EU countries to demand a discussion with America on spying.
The French and German governments have demanded talks with the US by the end of the year as the row over the spying activities of the US National Security Agency intensifies. Their calls follow reports that the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, had her phone monitored by the NSA and reports that the agency eavesdropped on calls made by members of the French administration.
The revelations are threatening to create a major rift between the US and its European allies. The former Belgian prime minister and leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the European parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that such activities had to be curtailled. “There is no reason to spy on Angela Merkel. It’s a real scandal,” he said. “A new agreement is needed between the EU and the US; this cannot continue.
A delegation from the European Union is set to begin talks with American officials on Monday. Nine members of the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee will visit for three days to discuss reports that the NSA spied on thousands of French phone calls and monitored Angel Merkel’s cellphone.
While no one can blame foreign countries, especially allies, for being upset at being spied on. The fact that the Obama Administration is willing to take these humiliating meetings with foreign powers and ignore the calls of its own citizens for restraint of the NSA is disgusting. Spying on supposed allies is rude and likely counter-productive, spying on American citizens is unconstitutional and a crime.
Where are the Obama Administration meetings with American citizens who oppose the surveillance state?