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Spying on friends - is there ever an excuse?

European leaders denounce alleged US spying on EU allies; Merkel says it has shattered trust

BRUSSELS — European leaders united in anger as they attended a summit overshadowed by reports of widespread U.S. spying on its allies — allegations German Chancellor Angela Merkel said had shattered trust in the Obama administration and undermined the crucial trans-Atlantic relationship.

The latest revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency swept up more than 70 million phone records in France and may have tapped Merkel’s own cellphone brought denunciations from the French and German governments.

Merkel’s unusually stern remarks Thursday as she arrived at the European Union gathering indicated she wasn’t placated by a phone conversation she had Wednesday with President Barack Obama, or his personal assurances that the U.S. is not listening in on her calls now.

“We need trust among allies and partners,” Merkel told reporters in Brussels. “Such trust now has to be built anew. This is what we have to think about.”

“The United States of America and Europe face common challenges. We are allies,” the German leader said. “But such an alliance can only be built on trust. That’s why I repeat again: spying among friends, that cannot be.”

The White House may soon face other irked heads of state and government. The British newspaper The Guardian said Thursday it obtained a confidential memo suggesting the NSA was able to monitor 35 world leaders’ communications in 2006. The memo said the NSA encouraged senior officials at the White House, Pentagon and other agencies to share their contacts so the spy agency could add foreign leaders’ phone numbers to its surveillance systems, the report said.

The Guardian did not identify who reportedly was eavesdropped on, but said the memo termed the payoff very meager: “Little reportable intelligence” was obtained, it said.

Other European leaders arriving for the 28-nation meeting echoed Merkel’s displeasure. Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt called it “completely unacceptable” for a country to eavesdrop on an allied leader.

If reports that Merkel’s cellphone had been tapped are true, “it is exceptionally serious,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told national broadcaster NOS.

“We want the truth,” Italian Premier Enrico Letta told reporters. “It is not in the least bit conceivable that activity of this type could be acceptable.”



Asked by goldpandora at 5:32 AM on Oct. 25, 2013 in Politics & Current Events

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This question is closed.
Answers (8)
  • Is there ever an excuse? I could probably think of a few (were our country's security was being directly threatened), however I think the NSA and this administration in particular are extremely paranoid and have widely abused their powers. JMO.


    Answer by QuinnMae at 9:46 AM on Oct. 25, 2013

  • Just wanted to add, that the past administration has had it's heavy hand in spying as well. I suspect this is business as usual and has been for a long time. We just didn't have confirmation of it until recently and the fact that it's more widespread than most people realized.

    Answer by QuinnMae at 10:51 AM on Oct. 25, 2013

  • What the hell?? Looks like Obama is playing "lets see how many countries I can piss off before I'm out of office". I've lost count myself. What an ass.

    Answer by Rosehawk at 11:26 AM on Oct. 25, 2013

  • Spying on a friend is flat out wrong. You either trust them or you don't.

    Answer by baconbits at 10:02 AM on Oct. 25, 2013

  • on NPR they said that this is one of those "punish the first person caught" things. they ALL spy on each other, especially Russia and China. to think this is one of those things that is only Obama and no president or other country is doing it, is naive. as far as the US is concerned we've had to save face about spying several times in the past...Cold War History is full of them, even with our BFF's Britain.

    Answer by okmanders at 1:10 PM on Oct. 25, 2013

  • Is the friend screwing your husband?

    Or in political terms, is the friend prone to saying one thing to your face and backstabbing you when you turn around? They're right to be pissed, but they also have to admit they've given reason for it.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 10:22 AM on Oct. 25, 2013

  • I do wonder if there will be a nation on the face of the earth that doesn't despise America by the time President Obama gets through. Not that he started it--plenty of countries hated the U.S. when he took office, but he seems hell bent on increasing that number as best he can.

    Answer by Ballad at 12:28 PM on Oct. 25, 2013

  • And yet there is an agreement in force not to spy on Britain and another three English speaking countries. Apparently, the US was about to sign one with Germany too. Looks like that's up the spout.

    Comment by goldpandora (original poster) at 1:16 PM on Oct. 25, 2013