Friday, October 25, 2013

Keeping Up Appearances

So most of Europe is pissed off at the US for what amounts to spying on high ranking officials.  Thanks to Edward Snowden we know that the NSA was hacking into the email accounts of the French Foreign Minister and monitoring the use of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone.  For Merkel this really had to be a crushing blow since she is such a fangirl of President Obama--getting all giggly and googly-eyed whenever they are together at international conferences.  It's almost like the 16-year old girl that finds out her star quarterback boyfriend was reading her diary or checked out all of her emails and text messages to her friends on her cellphone.

So why would the US do that?  Why would we risk the good relationships we have with our European allies with such nefarious tactics?  While spying on our friends is nothing new (trust--but verify, you could say) the intrusion on the privacy of seeming harmless people is all part of the Obama Administrations efforts to appear like they are not actually targeting those most like to be associated with international terrorism.  Remember all of those complaints about "profiling" of certain segments of the population in the early days of the Patriot Act?  The initial complaints were lodged against the Transporation Safety Administration, which had to start choosing old ladies in wheelchairs, children and guys like me to pull aside for "extra screening" as often--if not more often--than those who fit the profiles of those who took over and crashed those four planes on 9-11.

So President Obama--"sensitive" to the feelings of members in certain religions and natives of certain countries--has the NSA get around the same complaints about "profiling" by violating the privacy and civil rights of EVERYBODY.  Need to monitor the emails of the Afghan or Yemeni Foreign Ministers for intelligence on Al Qaeda or the the Taliban?  You'd better steal the emails from the French Foreign Minister as well.  Want to know who the Prime Minister of Pakistan is talking to?  Better get the same info on Chancellor Merkel as well.  Worried about what a 25-year old Saudi national who has overstayed his student visa in New York City is looking up on the internet?  Better get the same smartphone data from the 13-year old girl in Oshkosh as well.

President Obama and Chancellor Merkel reportedly had a lengthy phone conversation yesterday (recorded I'm sure) to discuss this issue.  I'm sure he told his Number 1 Fan that he certainly didn't want to violate her trust like that--but it is far more important to keep up appearances.

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