Tag Archive: Angela Merkel


A summer afternoon at the Reichstag. Soft Berlin light filters down through the great glass dome, past tourists ascending the spiral ramp, and into the main hall of parliament. Half the members’ seats are empty. At the lectern, a short, slightly hunched figure in a fuchsia jacket, black slacks, and a helmet of no-color hair is reading a speech from a binder. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany and the world’s most powerful woman, is making every effort not to be interesting.

“As the federal government, we have been carrying out a threefold policy since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis,” Merkel says, staring at the binder. Her delivery is toneless, as if she were trying to induce her audience into shifting its attention elsewhere. “Besides the first part of this triad, targeted support for Ukraine, is, second, the unceasing effort to find a diplomatic solution for the crisis in the dialogue with Russia.” For years, public speaking was visibly painful to Merkel, her hands a particular source of trouble; eventually, she learned to bring her fingertips together in a diamond shape over her stomach. [Read more]

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MEMORANDUM FOR: Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Ukraine and NATO

We the undersigned are long-time veterans of U.S. intelligence. We take the unusual step of writing this open letter to you to ensure that you have an opportunity to be briefed on our views prior to the NATO summit on September 4-5.

You need to know, for example, that accusations of a major Russian “invasion” of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence. Rather, the “intelligence” seems to be of the same dubious, politically “fixed” kind used 12 years ago to “justify” the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. We saw no credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq then; we see no credible evidence of a Russian invasion now. Twelve years ago, former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, mindful of the flimsiness of the evidence on Iraqi WMD, refused to join in the attack on Iraq. In our view, you should be appropriately suspicious of charges made by the U.S. State Department and NATO officials alleging a Russian invasion of Ukraine. [Read more]

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On the NSA, Hillary Clinton Is Either a Fool or a Liar | The Nation

Who is the true patriot, Hillary Clinton or Edward Snowden? The question comes up because Clinton has gone all out in attacking Snowden as a means of burnishing her hawkish credentials, eliciting Glenn Greenwald’s comment that she is “like a neocon, practically.”

On Friday in England, Clinton boasted that two years ago she had favored a proposal by a top British General to train 100,000 “moderate” rebels to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria, but Obama had turned her down. The American Thatcher? In that same interview with the Guardian she also managed to get in yet another shot against Snowden for taking refuge in Russia “apparently under Putin’s protection,” unless, she taunted, “he wishes to return knowing he would be held accountable.” [Read more]

Diego Garcia: Investigation into Government complicity in CIA programme is ‘expedient on grounds of national security’, says senior MP | The Independent

A senior MP has called for a far reaching investigation into the extent of British complicity in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme, following the revelation that flight records from the Indian Ocean territory of Diego Garcia have been lost.

Andrew Tyrie, a leading campaigner for British accountability on extraordinary rendition, said the admission on Wednesday by the Foreign Office that flight logs for American aircraft using the UK-owned island had been destroyed meant the “full truth” of whether there was British knowledge of the practice may now never be known.

The Conservative MP and chairman of the Commons’ Treasury select committee tabled the question which lead to FCO ministers admitting that flight records for 2002 – the only year in which Washington has admitted extraordinary rendition flights landed in Diego Garcia – had been partially lost due to “water damage”. [Read more]

NSA Spying Hurts Cybersecurity for All of Us Say Privacy Advocates | Time

Privacy advocates Monday slammed the National Security Agency for conducting surveillance in a way they say undermines cybersecurity for everyone and harms U.S. tech companies.

“We have examples of the NSA going in and deliberately weakening security of things that we use so they can eavesdrop on particular targets,” said Bruce Schneier, a prominent cryptography writer and technologist. Schneier referenced a Reuters report that the NSA paid the computer security firm RSA $10 million to use a deliberately flawed encryption standard to facilitate easier eavesdropping, a charge RSA has denied. “This very act of undermining not only undermines our security. It undermines our fundamental trust in the things we use to achieve security. It’s very toxic,” Schneier said. [Read more]

NSA And FBI Spied On Muslim-American Leaders | TechCrunch

Using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the National Security Agency and the FBI spied on several prominent Muslim-Americans, including civil-rights activists, academics, lawyers and a political candidate, The Intercept reports.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has been steadily publishing information leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, said in May that he plans, with their consent, to publish the names of those targeted in the United States by the NSA. [Read more]

Surveillance law wins cross-party support but critics claim stitch-up | The Guardian

David Cameron and his Liberal Democrat deputy, Nick Clegg, have unveiled emergency surveillance legislation that will shore up government powers to require phone and internet companies to retain and hand over data to the security services.

The emergency legislation – due to be debated on Tuesday and complete all its parliamentary stages by Thursday next week – will also confirm that foreign-based companies should hand over data harvested in the UK, a move that implicitly accepts the revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden may have disclosed surveillance activities that did not have international legal authority. [Read more]

Will the Internet remain an open platform or become a commodity? | Rabble

The freedom to communicate and to share has entered a new era. The power promised by this freedom, by the Internet, is immense, so much so that it frightens entrenched institutions. Governments, militaries, corporations, banks: They all stand to lose the control they exert over society when information they suppress runs free. Yet some of the most ardent advocates for the free Internet have become targets of these very institutions, forced to live on the run, in exile or, in some cases, in prison.

Julian Assange is perhaps one of the most recognized figures in the fight for transparency and open communication. He founded the website WikiLeaks in 2007 to provide a safe, secure means to leak electronic documents. In 2010, WikiLeaks released a shocking video taken from a U.S. military attack helicopter, in which at least 12 civilians are methodically machine-gunned to death in New Baghdad, a neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq. Two of those killed were Reuters journalists. Throughout the massacre, the Army radio transmissions are heard, a combination of grimly sterile orders to “engage” the victims and a string of mocking exchanges among the soldiers, belittling the victims and celebrating the slaughter. [Read more]

Most Americans Think NSA Surveillance Goes Too Far | Huffington Post

Most Americans think government surveillance that gathers up masses of telephone and Internet data goes “too far,” a new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows. And 2 in 5 think the government has recorded their own phone calls or emails.

Fifty-nine percent of the survey’s respondents said the programs that collect phone and Internet communications as a way to prevent terrorism collect too much information about Americans, while only 20 percent said the government strikes the right balance in deciding what data to collect. Six percent said the government doesn’t go far enough in collecting that information. [Read more]

U.S. knew about U.K. newspaper’s destruction of leaked NSA data | CBS News

The Obama administration knew in advance that the British government would oversee destruction of a newspaper’s hard drives containing leaked National Security Agency documents last year, newly declassified documents show. The White House had publicly distanced itself on whether it would do the same to an American news organization.

The Guardian newspaper, responding to threats from the British government in July 2013, destroyed the data roughly a month after it and other media outlets first published details from the top secret documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. [Read more]

Germany orders CIA station chief to leave over spying allegations | Washington Post

The German government ordered the CIA’s top officer in Berlin to leave the country Thursday in an extraordinary escalation of a conflict between the two allies over U.S. espionage.

The move amounts to a high-profile expression of German anger over alleged CIA operations uncovered by German investigators in recent weeks, as well as continued public outrage over the exposure last year of widespread U.S. surveillance programs whose targets included Chancellor Angela Merkel. [Read more]

The CIA in Germany: A Secret History | The Daily Beast

Over the weekend, news broke that the German security service had arrested a 31-year-old intelligence official who has been charged with providing classified information to an unnamed foreign government. Within a matter of hours, the German media confirmed that the country in question was the United States. CIA officials quickly said off-the-record that the Agency was ‘involved’ in recruiting the German agent, although we are still waiting for further details about what role the CIA played in this affair.

One should not be surprised by the news. You do not have to look very hard to find in the historical record information revealing that the CIA has been spying inside Germany for more than sixty years. CIA agents have even been captured and expelled by German authorities, including a number who were caught in the 1990s. These incidents, which received comparatively little attention in the U.S., were covered extensively in Germany and enraged the German public. [Read more]

Cowardice meets arrogance in UK surveillance stitch up | BoingBoing

The issue has come up in such a whirlwind that you could be forgiven for missing it. On Wednesday, we learned that the leaders of all three major British political parties expected their members of parliament to vote in favour of a bill they’d be introducing the next day, without saying what, exactly, that bill would concern. On Thursday, we learned the details: the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill, AKA “DRIP” would create nearly unlimited spying powers for this government and all the ones that followed it. With all the party leaders having agreed that it would pass, no matter what—even the Liberal Democrat leadership, who had historically split from their Tory partners on matters of mass surveillance—it threatens to become law without effective debate or discussion. [Read more]

 

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The Latest Snowden Leak Is Devastating to NSA Defenders | The Atlantic

Consider the latest leak sourced to Edward Snowden from the perspective of his detractors. The National Security Agency’s defenders would have us believe that Snowden is a thief and a criminal at best, and perhaps a traitorous Russian spy. In their telling, the NSA carries out its mission lawfully, honorably, and without unduly compromising the privacy of innocents. For that reason, they regard Snowden’s actions as a wrongheaded slur campaign premised on lies and exaggerations.

But their narrative now contradicts itself. The Washington Post’s latest article drawing on Snowden’s leaked cache of documents includes files “described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained” that “tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.” [Read more]

The NSA, the silent chancellor, and the double agent: how German ignorance left us vulnerable to the US spy game | The Guardian

The German-American relationship has long been like a bad, never-ending break-up. Germany, especially under the conservative leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel, saw the love of its life – intimate, trustworthy, for better or for worse, with no secrets but plenty of denial. The US was always a more sober and suspicious lover – in it for the affair, whenever it had the free time.

Now that a German intelligence official has been arrested under suspicion of passing secret information back to America – potentially concerning an NSA investigation, and reportedly under direction by the CIA – finally the Merkel government is admitting that the long honeymoon is over. Tap my cellphone, shame on you; fool me with a double agent, shame on an ignorant nation. [Read more]

Snowden Should Refuse to Play “Alice in Wonderland” | OpEdNews

Edward Snowden submitting to prosecution in the United States, would be like Alice going into the courtroom in Wonderland.
Alice stood before the King and Queen of Hearts who served as the judges. Knaves were chained on the ground before them. The jurors, Alice realizes are ‘stupid things’ The first witness against her was the Mad Hatter who is as mad as the culture he represents. The guinea pigs who protest are immediately “suppressed” by having the mouths tied up and being put into a bag and sat on by the King so their protests cannot be heard. The most important evidence in the trial was secret, a poem for which the author is unknown and concludes: [Read more]

CIA ‘did recruit German double agent’, US officials say | The Telegraph

The Central Intelligence Agency was involved in a spying operation against Germany that led to the alleged recruitment of a German intelligence official and has prompted renewed outrage from Berlin over US surveillance practices, two American officials familiar with the matter said on Monday.

John Brennan, the CIA’s director, has asked to brief key members of the US Congress on the matter, which threatens a new rupture between Washington and a close European ally, one of the officials said. [Read more]

The CIA’s Bumbling German Spy Was More Austin Powers and Less James Bond | The Daily Beast

It looks like the CIA has picked another loser. And while the headlines about the case have focused on a crisis of confidence among North Atlantic allies, the real question is how the Central Intelligence Agency, or its people in Berlin, could be so incredibly dumb.

The man at the center of the sturm und drang was a spy in the offices of the German BND intelligence service. Since the news broke over the weekend, his colleagues have described him to the German press as “naïve” and  “not very qualified” for what was essentially clerical work at a low-end job editing the text of incoming files. [Read more]

 

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http://wp.me/p4sUqu-d6 – Michael’s Blog

Wherever German Chancellor Angela Merkel goes, protests follow. So when she landed in Lisbon two days before the Southern European general strike on November 14, 2012, the international press expected similar scenes to that which took place in Athens when tens of thousands demonstrated against her visit to the Greek capital.

Unfortunately, the demonstration on that Monday afternoon only attracted a couple of hundred leftists under the banner “Fora Merkel!” – Merkel must go. Riot police and metal fences separated protesters from the Presidential Palace where Merkel met with members of the Portuguese cabinet.

In Athens, placards and posters read, “Merkel in Athens is like Hitler in Paris.” These would be echoed later in Cyprus where teenagers took to the streets earlier in 2013. [Read the full article]

Worth to have look. This op-ed raises some interesting questions while it approaches the topic from a broader and different angle.

Helmut Schmidt

 

Helmut Schmidt takes a last, long drag on his cigarette and stubs it out. Within a minute, the man who piloted what was then West Germany through the last global economic crisis leans forward to pluck another smoke from the box he keeps on his desk on the sixth floor of Die Zeit’s offices, where he is a publisher, in Hamburg.

Rumour has it that Schmidt has 30,000 menthol fags stashed away in readiness for a possible EU-wide ban. As one butt follows another into his ashtray, the former chancellor bemoans the leadership vacuum that is hobbling Europe, discusses the respective merits of British prime ministers, and questions whether it would be a good thing for the UK to join the euro. [Read the full article]

 

A 'nest' of surveillance cameras at the Gillet...

The War on Terror’s Jedi Mind Trick | The Atlantic

A Republican-appointed judge and President Obama’s own handpicked Surveillance Review Group both came to the same conclusion last week: The National Security Agency’s controversial phone-records program has been of little real value to American security. Yet its defenders continue to insist that it is necessary, clinging desperately to long-debunked claims about foiled terror plots. Their stubbornness fits a decade-long pattern of fear trumping evidence whenever the word “terrorism” is uttered—a pattern it is time to finally break.

Since the disclosure of the NSA’s massive domestic phone-records database, authorized under a tortured reading of the Patriot Act’s Section 215 authority to obtain business records, intelligence officials and their allies in Congress have claimed it plays a vital role in protecting Americans from “dozens” of terror attacks. But as the expert panel Obama appointed to review the classified facts concluded, in a report released Wednesday, that just isn’t true. [Read the full article]

Prediction: The Government Will Put The NSA In Check | TechCrunch

Up until a few months ago, President Obama probably didn’t worry much about the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance program. After all, Congress had approved it, courts oversaw it, and a majority of Americans continued to support it — even after the leaks were reported.

But, now that every major branch of government is calling for reform, including the President’s own special advisory group, I predict far more transparency and a partial end to mass spying is coming. [Read the full article]

Nine Gifts the NSA Will Hate | MotherJones

In the wake of the Edward Snowden-enabled revelations about the reach of the surveillance state, your more privacy-sensitive loved ones may have spent the year discovering TOR, making the jump to mesh networks or encrypted email, or mumbling about converting their nest egg to Bitcoin.

But now that gift-giving season is well upon us, what’s left to get the security-obsessed person who already has it all? Tin foil hats have a timeless appeal, but here’s a short list of slightly more practical devices: [Read the full article]

 

A 'nest' of surveillance cameras at the Gillet...

 

Tim Berners-Lee: encryption cracking by spy agencies ‘appalling and foolish’ | The Guardian

 

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the computer scientist who created the world wide web, has called for a “full and frank public debate” over internet surveillance by the National Security Agency and its British counterpart, GCHQ, warning that the system of checks and balances to oversee the agencies has failed.

As the inventor of the global system of inter-connectivity known as the web, with its now ubiquitous www and http, Berners-Lee is uniquely qualified to comment on the internet spying revealed by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. [Read the full article]

 

Asylum Debate: Germany Wants to Question Snowden in Moscow | Spiegel

 

Since revelations emerged two weeks ago that America’s National Security Agency had long spied on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone communications, calls have been growing for whistleblower Edward Snowden to be offered political asylum in Germany.

The calls are being met with rejection at top levels of the government. On Wednesday, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said Snowden doesn’t have the right to asylum in Germany because he is not the subject of political persecution. Instead legal options are being explored for Snowden’s possible questioning in Moscow. [Read the full article]

 

A 'nest' of surveillance cameras at the Gillet...NSA secretly accessed main Google, Yahoo data center links | Salon

Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks have not only revealed the vast reaches of the U.S. government’s surveillance operations, but in so doing they have revealed an ideology at the heart of the national security surveillance state: A megalomaniacal hoarding complex that de facto treats every and any individual as a potential threat. How many times will we hear that it’s about being able to “connect the dots”?

So again with the latest bombshell revelation: The NSA, the Washington Post reported Wednesday from documents leaked by Ed Snowden, has secretly intercepted the main links connecting Google and Yahoo data centers around the world. “By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from among hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot,” the Post reported. [Read the full article]

NSA infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say | Washington Post

The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials.

By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.  [Read the full article]

Boris Johnson defends Guardian over NSA revelations | The Guardian

Boris Johnson has issued a staunch defence of the Guardian’s “salient and interesting” revelations showing the extent of mass surveillance by US and UK intelligence agencies.

The mayor of London told an audience at the World Islamic Economic Forum on Wednesday that it was important that governments and their spies were held to account by a “beady-eyed” media. [Read the full article]

Germany’s Merkel sends intelligence delegation to US | BBC

The chancellor’s foreign policy adviser and Germany’s intelligence co-ordinator will hold talks at the White House.

The head of US intelligence has defended the monitoring of foreign leaders as a key goal of operations. [Read the full article]

NSA director hints at scaling back some surveillance of foreign leaders | The Guardian

The director of the National Security Agency conceded on Wednesday that it may need to scale back some of its surveillance operations on foreign leaders, in the wake of an international outcry.

Launching a public defence of the NSA for the second time in as many days, Alexander acknowledged that limiting the program may be necessary in order to maintain diplomatic relations. “I think in some cases the partnerships are more important,” he told an audience in Washington. [Read the full article]

The NSA Spied on Angela Merkel—and the Rest of Us, Too | The Nation

Of all the spying activities conducted by the National Security Agency and disclosed by Edward Snowden, the one provoking the most alarm in Washington is the revelation that the agency monitored the communications of at least thirty-five world leaders, including Angela Merkel. Suddenly there is concern that the agency has overstepped its authority regarding foreign dignitaries—but not necessarily when it comes to American citizens.

After an outcry from Europe, the Obama administration indicated it may order the NSA to stop monitoring the heads of American allies. Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a prominent defender of domestic surveillance, said in a statement that Congress was not “satisfactorily informed” about the program. “With respect to NSA collection of intelligence on leaders of US allies…I am totally opposed,” she declared. [Read the full article]

Obama, Congress Owe Snowden Thanks, and a Pardon | truthdig

Now we know that even the president needs leaks from Edward Snowden to be fully informed about the dastardly acts of his own top spy agency. It was Snowden’s recent revelations that led Obama to order an investigation into spying on private communications of 35 world leaders, including our closest allies, a clear betrayal of the trust needed to establish a more peaceful world.

According to a Wall Street Journal account from senior U.S. officials, the president had been kept in the dark as to the extent of the NSA spy program: “President Barack Obama went nearly five years without knowing his own spies were bugging the phones of world leaders. Officials said the NSA has so many eavesdropping operations under way that it wouldn’t have been practical to brief him on all of them. They added that the president was briefed on and approved of broader intelligence-collection ‘priorities,’ but that those below him make decisions about specific intelligence targets.” Huh? [Read the full article]

NSA chief defends agency amid U.S. spy rift with Europe | Chicago Tribune

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of the National Security Agency defended his beleaguered organization on Tuesday, saying it acts within the law to stop militant attacks and calling reports that the NSA collected data on millions of phone calls in Europe false.

Army General Keith Alexander, testifying with other U.S. spy chiefs before the House of Representatives Intelligence committee, sought to defuse a growing controversy over reports of NSA snooping on citizens and leaders of major U.S. allies. [Read the full article]

NSA Scandal: Parliamentary Spying Inquiry Poses Challenges | Spiegel

The list is long: There have been 39 investigatory committees in the history of the German Federal Republic. Soon that number may rise to 40. The center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), the far-left Left Party and the Greens have insisted on a parliamentary inquiry into the activities of US intelligence agencies in Germany. The conservatives are committed, at the very least, not to hinder such a probe. That leaves the door wide open for one.

All participants know that such an investigatory committee would be unprecedented in that it would be dealing with the fundamental problems of the digital age. It would be different from prior committees. And because there is a desire to send a multi-party signal of protest to Washington, it is hard to get around it. [Read the full article]

Congress vs the President: Who Should Make the Calls on NSA? | DefenseOne

Watching the latest episode of NSA: The Reckoning, off the C-SPAN live-stream, I found myself asking this question: Do members of Congress believe that it’s a problem, really, that the National Security Agency managed to tap the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2002?

Or was the problem simply that they’re members of Congress, and not members of the executive branch? [Read the full article]

White House offers tentative support for plans to rein in NSA surveillance | The Guardian

The White House indicated on Tuesday that it would support at least some of the congressional efforts to rein in the controversial surveillance practices of the National Security Agency, as political opinion in Washington hardened against the country’s embattled intelligence community.

The administration revealed that an internal government review in the wake of revelations by the whistleblower Edward Snowden had already led to changes in US intelligence-gathering activities – thought to be a ban on eavesdropping on the leaders of friendly governments and a curb on surveillance at the United Nations. [Read the full article]

NSA chief says NATO allies shared phone records with the U.S. spy agency | Washington Post

The director of the National Security Agency on Tuesday dismissed as “completely false” reports that his agency swept up millions of phone records of European citizens, and he revealed that data collected by NATO allies were shared with the United States.

Gen. Keith Alexander said foreign intelligence services collected phone records in war zones and other areas outside their borders and provided them to the spy agency — an operation that was misunderstood by French and Spanish newspapers that reported that the NSA was conducting surveillance in their countries. [Read the full article]

Robinson: The NSA is out of control | Salt Lake Tribune

WASHINGTON — Let’s get this straight: The National Security Agency snooped on the cellphone conversations of German Chancellor Angela Merkel? Perhaps for as long as a decade? And President Obama didn’t know a thing about it?

Either somebody’s lying or Obama needs to acknowledge that the NSA, in its quest for omniscience beyond anything Orwell could have imagined, is simply out of control. [Read the full article]

Germany and Brazil want UN vote on NSA spying | Deutsche Welle

Germany and Brazil have started an initiative to pass a resolution against spying on electronic communications. Diplomats confirmed to German news agencies on Tuesday (29.10.2013) that the German and Brazilian delegations had already started work on formulating a text, and it was possible they would be able to send the draft resolution to the UN Human Rights Committee by the end of this week.

Political scientist Günther Maihold told DW that the two states had chosen this path because they “didn’t want to get into a constellation that would give the US the option of a veto.” Maihold explained that “Brazil’s main interest is that this should result in international regulation by the UN.” [Read the full article]

Spying Scandal Makes Clear That Europe Must Declare Independence | truthdig

The crisis caused in Europe by American intelligence interceptions of its allies’ electronic communications derives from a problem Europeans have known and put up with since the Second World War. The time has come to call a halt.

It can only be solved with drastic actions that assert European sovereignty and a salutary shock of defiance to longstanding American presumptions of international impunity and repeated acts in disregard of international law, as well as of commercial and diplomatic convention and tradition. [Read the full article]

Spying tests trust between Obama, Merkel | AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — When President Barack Obama visited Berlin in June, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a point of showing him a balcony in her office overlooking train tracks that crossed the border of her once-divided country — a symbol of her upbringing on the east side of the divide, where eavesdropping by secret police was rampant during the Cold War.

The private moment between the two leaders underscores the degree to which Merkel’s personal history has influenced her outrage over revelations that the National Security Agency was monitoring her communications. The secret spying threatens to damage the close relationship between Obama and Merkel, which, until now, has been defined by candor and trust. [Read the full article]

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Armed Predator drone firing Hellfire missile

 

The foreign leaders are dropping like flies — to American surveillance. I’m talking about serial revelations that the National Security Agency has been spying on Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, two Mexican presidents, Felipe Calderón (whose office the NSA called “a lucrative source”) and his successor Enrique Peña Nieto, at least while still a candidate, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It’s now evidently part of the weekly news cycle to discover that the NSA has hacked into the emails or listened into the phone conversations of yet another allied leader.  Reportedly, that agency has been listening in on the phone calls of at least 35 world leaders.  Within 48 hours last week, President Obama was obliged to call an irritated President François Hollande, after Le Monde reported that the NSA was massively collecting French phone calls and emails, including those of politicians and business people, and received a call from an outraged Merkel, whose cell phone conversations were reportedly monitored by the NSA.  Of course, when you build a global surveillance state and your activities, thanks to a massive leak of documents, become common knowledge, you have to expect global anger to rise and spread.  With 196 countries on the planet, there are a lot of calls assumedly still to come in, even as the president and top Washington officials hem and haw about the necessity of maintaining the security of Americans while respecting the privacy of citizens and allies, refuse to directly apologize, claim that an “exhaustive” review of surveillance practices is underway, and hope that this, too, shall pass. [Read the full article]

 

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