European leaders are seething with “boiling rage” against the U.S., said Stefan Kornelius in the Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany). According to the latest revelations, the NSA tapped the email, office phones, and even the cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “It’s now clear” that only self-interest guides the U.S., where “friendship and trust have little value.” Spy agencies are supposed to protect their nations’ interests, but with this scandal the NSA has only harmed them. The agency operates “uncontrolled and unconstrained, recognizing neither friend nor foe and lacking all political savvy.” As French lawmaker Jean-Jacques Urvoas said, the U.S. now “has no allies, only targets or vassals.”
Britain sees it differently, said Tim Shipman in the Daily Mail(U.K.). Last weekend, the U.K. government seemed to hedge its formal support for a European Union statement calling for a new trans-Atlantic code of conduct barring spying on allies. It’s no secret that the British Government Communications Headquarters has assisted the NSA in its snooping, as have the spy agencies of Canada and Australia. Prime Minister David Cameron said the “lah-dih-dah, airy-fairy” objections to intelligence gathering were naïve in the extreme and that his fellow EU leaders “should stop complaining about snooping by GCHQ and the NSA because British spies have saved their citizens from terrorist attack.”
Looks like Europe has a case of spy envy, said Bartosz Weglar-czyk in Rzeczpospolita (Poland). EU governments are only acting so outraged because the U.S. is doing what they would do if they could. If they “really wanted to show how much they loathe Washington’s immoral and unethical practices, they could start by closing their own intelligence -services—which they obviously won’t do.” But not everybody would do this, said Marek Ostrowski in Polityka (Poland). America has allowed its “technological prowess to leapfrog ahead of its political thinking.” It’s not right to disrespect your allies, and—as the scandal shows—it’s not wise either.
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Europe doesn’t love Obama anymore, said Sylvie Kauffmann in Le Monde (France). In European cartoons, the eavesdropper in chief’s big ears now dwarf the rest of him, and “the president of ‘yes we can’ has become that of ‘yes we scan.’” Obama might soon need some of the foreign friends he’s lost. The U.S. has “a quasi-monopoly on Big Data” through Facebook and Google, but the EU is considering tough new laws mandating data privacy. The proposed U.S.-EU free trade zone is at risk, too. Europe’s loss of confidence in Obama “could do real damage.”
But is President Obama even in charge over there? asked Martin Klingst in Die Zeit (Germany). “One doesn’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to raise the question: Isn’t it possible that Obama might also be a victim of NSA eavesdropping?” For all we know, the rogue spy service could be blackmailing him. “It is therefore high time for Obama and Congress to relentlessly expose and severely curb the macabre practices of the NSA.”
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