Monday was France, Tuesday was Mexico, and Wednesday was Germany. The NSA’s surveillance scandals continue to mount, with seemingly each day meaning another outraged ally condemning their privacy violations.
All the surveillance is perfectly legal under US law, and the administration is quick to remind us that it has a conceivable interest in knowing all these things. It’s a lazy defense, however.
That’s because the mass surveillance came into place entirely in secret, and the US calculus never had to weigh any given form of spying against the potential harm done by the discovery of particularly seedy behavior.
The administration may well want to know what a German chancellor talks about in private, but tapping her cellphone is clearly unfriendly behavior. Likewise, the US might gain some conceivable advantage out of spying on a big company like Petrobras, but industrial espionage is frowned upon in most of the civilized world, and any government spying to try to gain a business advantage for their corporations has to expect a backlash.
The Obama Administration hasn’t come to grips with this at all, and continues to lash out at the international press for reporting its misdeeds, instead of scaling back its program to try to limit the damage done to their reputation.
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