Monday, October 28, 2013

Allies Aren’t Always Friends

Stewart Baker

Said : Stewart Baker - a lawyer and former assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush - in his article in the New York Times of October 24, 2013.

Why spy on friends anyway? is the question being asked after revelation of the alleged US spying of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone and surveillance of dozens of other world leaders, too. A number of American national intelligence and security experts have justified the US surveillance program saying that "relations among countries are essentially based on interests, and no matter how friendly countries may be, their interests are rarely exactly the same."

Reuters has quoted Mike Rogers, chairman of the House of Representatives intelligence committee, as saying : "European authorities don't have enough oversight of their intelligence services. The new revelations were not surprises to European intelligence agencies, but only to the governments for which they work."
Barack Obama with Angela Merkel during his visit to Berlin in June 2013. (Pic : spiegel)
Congressman Peter King, chairman of the House subcommittee on counter terrorism and intelligence, speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," said: "The president should stop apologizing and stop being defensive. the reality is the NSA has saved thousands of lives not just in the United States but in France, Germany and throughout Europe." He also added : "The French carried out operations against the United States, the government and industry. It was Germany (Hamburg) where plot began which led to 9/11. They have had dealings with Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. We’re not doing it for the fun of it. This is to gather valuable intelligence which helps not just us but also helps the Europeans."
Mr. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 
met his American counterpart, Mr. John Kerry 
(Oct 22, 2013). He reiterated his government's request 
for an explanation regarding the unacceptable 
spying practices  between partners which must stop.

French President Francois Hollande has joined Chancellor Merkel in demanding talks with the US for setting new intelligence-gathering rules. Hollande said : "Spying among friends was “unacceptable.” Ironically, it was French leader and World War II statesman Charles de Gaulle, who had said : “No nation has friends, only interests.” 

The American agencies and experts, however, believe that spying is not a new phenomenon. Every country is doing it to the best of it's ability and capability. Moreover, in a complex interconnected, interdependent and competing world of today such surveillance has become a necessity and compulsion. This is particularly very important when the global view is that the future wars will be fought in the cyberspace and from the comfort of control rooms thousands of miles away. The drone attacks, in which missiles are fired with the push of a button sitting thousands of miles away in a control station, are only a small beginning, perhaps.

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