The US government’s addictions to spying is leading to diplomatic and economic isolation around the world.
On July 4th, Wikileaks released a birthday gift to America. It turns out that the NSA (National Security Agency), was not only spying on the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, but on 29 other high-ranking Brazilian government officials, as well as engaging in economic and diplomatic espionage. As Wikileaks said on its website,
“The publication proves that not only President Dilma Rousseff was targeted but also her assistant, her secretary, her chief of staff, her Palace office and even the phone in her Presidential jet. The US targeted not only those closest to the President, but waged an economic espionage campaign against Brazil, spying on those responsible for managing Brazil’s economy, including the head of its Central Bank. The US also extensively targeted Brazil’s diplomacy, targeting the phones of its Foreign Minister and its ambassadors to Germany, France, the EU, the US and Geneva.”
This is becoming a pattern. When Wikipedia first revealed the NSA was spying on Germany’s prime minister, Angela Merkel, U.S. officials treated it as an isolated incident, vowing that “that no surveillance would be carried out in the future.” On July 2, it was revealed that the NSA was spying on 69 high ranking German government officials. That was quickly followed by the revelation that the NSA was spying on the German news magazine, Der Spiegel.
The pattern repeated itself with the case of the NSA’s surveillance of France. In October of 2013, it was revealed that the NSA spied on 70 million French citizens during a thirty day period. The dragnet swept up phone records and text messages between December 10 and January 7, 2013. However, that was just the tip of the iceberg. Wikileaks later published “top secret documents derive[d] from directly targeted NSA surveillance of the communications of French Presidents Francois Hollande (2012–present), Nicolas Sarkozy (2007–2012), and Jacques Chirac (1995–2007), as well as French cabinet ministers and the French Ambassador to the United States.”
Further, the NSA also conducted economic espionage on French ministries and firms. As Euronews reports, “the US National Security Agency spied more extensively on top French officials in an apparent bid to seek information on economic policy, exports and trade. French reports say the US spy agency targeted hundreds of top French companies to seek information about tenders affecting American firms.” To make matters worse, the U.S. shared the information gathered from the French with the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
Finally, there is the case of the NSA’s spying on Mexico. In October 2013, Der Spiegel reported that in May of 2010, the NSA was able to spy on then-president Felipe Calderon and his cabinet through an operation dubbed “flat liquid.” The current president, Pena Nieto, summoned the U.S. ambassador and demanded an investigation into the matter. Unlike the previous cases, there was no follow-up release of new documents revealing deeper levels of spying by the NSA. That does not mean, however, that more expansive NSA spying did not occur. Given the past cases, it is highly likely that the NSA engaged in more extensive spying on Mexico.
All of these cases raise an important question: if the U.S. keeps spying on its allies, then how long will it be before those allies start to distance themselves from the U.S.? On November 3, 2014, Brazil unveiled a plan to build an under-the-ocean fiber optic cable that would connect it directly to Portugal so as to avoid NSA spying. The cable will cost $185 million and will exclude American companies from its construction. Will other countries follow Brazil’s approach if more revelations of NSA spying come to pass? Or will America’s allies accept their fate and allow the NSA to continue spying on their private data?
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