What would you do if you found out that your friends were secretly reading your Facebook messages whenever you left the room during a study session? Just taking your computer when you weren’t looking and reading all your private exchanges. And then, upon getting caught when you returned after taking a shorter time brewing your tea than usual, they all took turns denying reading them, claimed to merely being bystanders as it happened, or asserted that they were so focused on studying that they hadn’t noticed the trespassing occurring next to them.
The US was already in hot water when the extent of NSA spying and surveillance came to light, but being caught spying on our friends and allies – oh, that just turned the Jacuzzi jets on.
With the recent news that the NSA has been monitoring the electronic communications of our allied leader, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Washington has been bumping into and climbing over each other as they try to both escape and pass around the blame. Many officials are ducking for cover to shield themselves against the outrage surrounding tapping the phone of an ally, but some are defending themselves, the operation, and pointing a finger at the White House to share in the guilt.
While President Obama has denied any awareness of the operation that monitored Merkel’s phone, longstanding members and experts of the intelligence community have lambasted this denial as ridiculous, saying that there is no way that Obama didn’t know about the Merkel operation. According to testimony by the Director of National Intelligence before the House Intelligence Committee, it is almost a guarantee that Obama would have been informed of the NSA’s monitoring of Merkel by senior White House staffers.
Who to believe? Who is lying?
We all know public statements are BS. I can’t help but imagine, with a grimace and amusement, the House of Cards-like pressuring, threatening, and under-the-bus-throwing happening on Capitol Hill right now.
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on the other hand, has publicly made what’s basically an admission that his committee knew about the NSA targeting Merkel, saying, “It is disingenuous to imply that this committee did not have a full and complete understanding of activities of the intelligence community.”
Meanwhile, in a surprising 180, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Community, Senator Dianne Feinstein, just ordered that a review be carried out of the NSA’s programs. That this is her response to the breaking news of US monitoring of Chancellor Merkel’s digital communications is surprising because she has previously been staunchly behind the NSA’s activities, known for being strongly in defense of their operations. And now she is, in her own words, completely opposed to gathering intelligence against our allies’ leaders. Allegedly, the White House is now planning with Congress to severely reduce NSA spying on others heads of state, particularly those of our allies. And yet, again, there is no way that the Senate Intelligence Committee had not known about these activities. Everyone seemed to have been in agreement when the operation was not known to the world; now that the news it out, everybody’s jumping ship and throwing anchors at each other while jumping.
In the words of an NSA official on the overnight abandonment of support: “We’re really screwed now. You know things are bad when the few friends you’ve got disappear without a trace in the dead of night and leave no forwarding address.”