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Default Obama - a troublemaker?

October 24th, 2013, 20:23
Germany summons US ambassador over claim NSA bugged Merkel's phone

Allegations that US spying has reached highest level of government met with outrage and disappointment in Germany:

The decision by Germany's foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, to summon the ambassador was seen as an unusally drastic move.

Germany's foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, has called the US ambassador to a personal meeting to discuss allegations that US secret services bugged Angela Merkel's mobile phone.

The decision to call in John B Emerson, who has only been the US representative in Berlin since mid-August, is an unusually drastic measure. During previous upheavals in relations, such as over the Syrian crisis, conversations have taken place between diplomats.

Allegations that the US government's spying had reached the highest level were met with outrage and disappointment in Germany on Thursday. The country's defence minister, Thomas de Maiziere, told ARD television it would be bad if the reports turned out to be true. Washington and Berlin could not return to business as usual, he said.

Informed sources in Germany said Merkel was livid about the reports that the NSA had bugged her phone and was convinced, on the basis of a German intelligence investigation, that the reports were utterly substantiated.

The German news weekly, Der Spiegel, reported an investigation by German intelligence, prompted by research from the magazine, that produced plausible information that the chancellor's mobile was targeted by the US eavesdropping agency. She found the evidence substantial enough to call the White House and demand clarification.

The outrage in Berlin came days after the French president, François Hollande, called the White House to confront Barack Obama with reports that the NSA was targeting the private phone calls and text messages of millions of French people.
Link to video: Merkel's phone bug: EU commission calls for action on data protection

While European leaders have generally been keen to play down the impact of the whistleblowing disclosures in recent months, events in the EU's two biggest countries this week threatened an increasing lack of trust in transatlantic relations.

On Wednesday Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, made plain that the chancellor upbraided Obama unusually sharply and also voiced exasperation at the slowness of the Americans to respond to detailed questions about the NSA scandal since the Snowden revelations first appeared in the Guardian in June.

Merkel told Obama that "she unmistakably disapproves of and views as completely unacceptable such practices, if the indications are authenticated", Seifert said. "This would be a serious breach of confidence. Such practices have to be halted immediately."

The sharpness of the German complaint direct to a US president strongly suggested that Berlin had no doubt about the grounds for protest. Seibert voiced irritation that Berlin had waited for months for proper answers from Washington on the NSA operations.

On Thursday Süddeutsche Zeitung conveyed a strong sense of the depth of disillusionment with the US president in Germany when it wrote that "Barack Obama is not a Nobel peace prize winner, he is a troublemaker".

In a comment piece in the German broadsheet, Robert Rossmann wrote that during his last visit to Germany, "the American president had flamboyantly promised more trusting collaboration between the countries. Even Merkel seems to have lost faith in that promise by now. One doesn't dare imagine how Obama's secret services deal with enemy states, when we see how they treat their closest allies."

Die Zeit wrote that Obama's "half-hearted denial" of the allegations raised more questions than it answered. "Was Merkel's mobile the target of NSA surveillance in the past? … It is time for Obama and the US Congress to be ruthlessly transparent about the macabre practices of the NSA and restrain them strongly. They promised it months ago, but until recently very little has happened. With each revelation trust is eroded further. If America wants to stop annoying its friends and allies, it only has one option. Get on the front foot and be open."

Criticism was not focused solely on Obama, but was extended to Merkel, whose chief of staff only recently declared that the NSA scandal was finished. Many feel Merkel failed to react appropriately to the Snowden revelations, and was only stepping up the rhetoric now that she had been personally affected.

Germany's data protection commissioner, Peter Schaar, said that the reports showed "the absurdity of politicians trying to draw to a close the debate about surveillance of everyday communication here". He said it had been irresponsible of politicians not to be more upfront in calling for the US to clear up the matter.

Anke Domscheit-Berg, of the German Pirate party, told the Guardian: "In the past few months, Chancellor Merkel did very little to make the US government answer all those questions that should have had highest political priority. Now she gets a taste of what it feels like when foreign secret services spy on all your communication. We have stopped trusting empty promises and so should Angela Merkel. It is about time to get all dirty secrets on the table."

The debate in the coming days is likely to focus on how the allegations will affect new data protection regulation at the European level, with some MEPs calling for a Europe-only data cloud. In Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Georg Mascolo and Ben Scott warned of the creation of a "digital Maginot line" between Europe and the US, and instead called for a "no-spy treaty" between European countries.

"Storing data and surveillance would only be allowed for previously agreed goals – the fight against terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as well as grave acts of crime. All forms of political and economic espionage would be banned. The privacy of every EU citizen has to be respected by each EU secret service as if they were their own."

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. - HL Mencken
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October 24th, 2013, 20:55
Please…. Germany spies on the US, France spies on the US, everyone spies on everyone, just may be not as effectively as others, but they would if they could. This is all a bunch fake grandstanding for political reasons, and trying to save face.
Last edited by Thrasher; October 24th, 2013 at 21:06.
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October 24th, 2013, 21:03
The U.S. ambassador has been summoned (is this the word ? funny) by the head of France as well - because of the NSA spying there as well, the news said.

The NSA might be okay with spying over foreigners - but they seemingly ignore the fact that this might hurt the relationships with other "friends", which I find worrying. Is the NSA - cynically speaking - so self-righteous that they don't care what any foreigner says about it - even if it is the head of another country ?

I'd be interested in what George W. Bush would say about this - the man who divided Europe into "Old Europe" and the Europe that was willing to help him …

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October 24th, 2013, 21:03
I tend to agree with you Thrasher more often than not but this explanation of yours doesn't quite hold water:

“In the first instance, not everyone spies and that, in the second, those who do spy do so to differing degrees via differing approaches and within differing guidelines. Furthermore, the types of spying that are currently gaining much of the criticism have either been controversial within the intelligence community in the past (economic spying and spying on friends) or are so new that they are not well understood in terms of operational security risks or other implications (warehousing data hoovered out of the Internet).”

And as the Washington Post argues, we’re fast reaching a point where the diplomatic fallout of the revelation of these programs exceeds any benefit we may have gained from them."

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_.html
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October 24th, 2013, 21:20
That article comes off dishonest by denying general statements about everyone spying on everyone else, rather that answering the specific cases of Germany and France spying on the US. Yeah, I doubt Luxemburg spies on the US. But that's, of course, missing the point.

France does spy on the US. And surely Germany does as well. So I detect a definite falseness to all this uproaar, that just makes me go bleh, what a bunch of hypocritical crybabies. Boo hoo, our spying techniques arent as good as the US, boo hoo…
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October 24th, 2013, 21:22
Germany made very bad experiences with the Gestapo (3. Reich) and Stasi (DDR).
So there are very strict rules nowadays for the BND to spy on people and other nations.

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. - HL Mencken
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October 24th, 2013, 21:39
Well Trasher is likely right. All the major countries spy eachother. French or germans aren't that innocent, but that being said, its quite a bold move to spy Merkel's phone. She is likely the most powerfull politician in whole europe now. Not wise to piss her off. Why take such risk? I think its an huge insult to germans if the information is accurate.
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October 24th, 2013, 21:46
Well I understand the origin of Germany's policies today, but that doesn't change other countrys' policies. And Germany shouldn't expect it, although it's nice to be the good guy, I wouldn't be surprised if there is well hidden German spying happening… especially corporate spying…

I'm not so sure the French and Germans aren't spying on Obama's phone, so I'm holding off judgement.
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October 24th, 2013, 22:04
I do enjoy the irony of this happening under Hopey Peace Prize.

Still, I'm with Thrasher on this one. The only difference between yesterday and today is that today the same-ol'-shit is being reported rather than staying in the unspoken shadows where it usually hides.

The only difference between the US and Europe is that Snowden worked for the US rather than France or Germany. We could undoubtedly have the same discussion in a slightly different direction if it was Francois Sneauxden or Heinrich Von Schnoeden.

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October 24th, 2013, 22:38
So spying on friends is okay as long noone finds out?

I say: Mass spying NSA style is just plain wrong and nothing can justify it not even 9 11.

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. - HL Mencken
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October 24th, 2013, 22:41
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
Still, I'm with Thrasher on this one.
I just had to quote this for posterity.

It *is* political. But that's just the way the world has always worked. Well, except when religions get involved. I prefer the grandstanding approach over the righteous wars against the Moors.
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October 24th, 2013, 22:42
Not saying it's OK, I just think all this uproar is hypocritical political poopoo since I think Germany and France spy as well.
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October 24th, 2013, 22:43
Originally Posted by Drithius View Post
I just had to quote this for posterity.
My posterior thanks you.
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October 24th, 2013, 22:47
Whether it's OK or not, I very seriously doubt it's anything new. I expect technology has made it a little easier to reach further, but the general approach has been around a long, long time. Given the fluidity of international relations, I don't know that you can put much stock in the concept of "friends" over time anyway. Wasn't so long ago we were eating Freedom Fries over here because the Frenchies were being stubborn assholes, after all.

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October 24th, 2013, 22:50
Originally Posted by Drithius View Post
I just had to quote this for posterity.

It *is* political. But that's just the way the world has always worked. Well, except when religions get involved. I prefer the grandstanding approach over the righteous wars against the Moors.
Hey, if he's right, he's right. It happens, and no shame in admitting it. Blind squirrels and nuts and all, ya know.

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October 24th, 2013, 22:50
I agree with DTE, except for the stubborn asshole. It's just a bunch of political wankery, catering to an indignant press. For the record, though, I do not approve of anyone spying on phone data, unless the target is a known criminal escaping arrest.
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October 24th, 2013, 22:57
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
I do enjoy the irony of this happening under Hopey Peace Prize.
The problem with the thread title is it gives Obama WAY too much credit for effectiveness … Maybe it should be 'Bad crap happens while Obama completely fails to do anything about it … but gives a nice speech so it is all good'.

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October 24th, 2013, 23:02
Originally Posted by Thrasher View Post
It's just a bunch of political wankery, catering to an indignant press.
Give that man a prize.

You'll note that this whole spying fiasco was largely glossed over by the mainstream media (Fox was slobbering since it put Hopey in a bad light, but the rest just kinda quietly reported basic facts) until it came out that reporters were targets as well. Suddenly, they're very excited about it and screaming from the highest mountain any time Snowden farts out another detail. Coincidence? I think not.

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October 24th, 2013, 23:06
Yep, exactly. The press is worried. Can't blame them, but they've always been monitored. They are afraid of losing sources; that, I can understand. So yeah, it looks bad for the press.
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October 25th, 2013, 00:48
I bet they were spying to find out why ppl love beer more than guns outside of US.

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