Obama To Angry Europeans: Hey, Come On, You Guys Spy On Us Too, Right? Right?

from the what's-a-little-spying-among-friends dept

When the news of the US spying on EU embassies and various other official buildings came out over the weekend, we noted that this really wasn’t that surprising, as it appeared to be very typical espionage — the kind that has happened for decades, if not centuries. Still, it’s not entirely clear that President Obama’s response to this controversy is particularly tactful. He basically uses the “hey, come on guys, we’re all doing this to each other, right?” excuse:

“We should stipulate that every intelligence service – not just ours, but every European intelligence service, every Asian intelligence service, wherever there’s an intelligence service … here’s one thing that they’re going to be doing: they’re going to be trying to understand the world better and what’s going on in world capitals,” he told a press conference during a long-scheduled trip Tanzania. “If that weren’t the case, then there’d be no use for an intelligence service.”

“And I guarantee you that in European capitals, there are people who are interested in, if not what I had for breakfast, at least what my talking points might be should I end up meeting with their leaders. That’s how intelligence services operate,” Obama added.

While I still think that this particular revelation is hardly that surprising, and agree that it’s almost certain that various European countries are doing the same sort of thing to the US, I do wonder if that’s the most tactful response to the growing controversy. Still, I do wonder if the focus on this will take away from the much larger issue of using intelligence services not to spy on other governments, but on the public via mass dragnet collections of information.

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Comments on “Obama To Angry Europeans: Hey, Come On, You Guys Spy On Us Too, Right? Right?”

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Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Taliban Retaliation

Nope. Just drop a few tactical nukes, problem solved.

Scorched Earth?

It remains to me a hope for humanity that even when nukes have been in the hands of religious radicals (low-ranking Pakistani and Indian officers, many of whom are quite fanatical) that we still haven’t seen one used in hostility even once. (The pre-nuclear atom bombs of WWII notwithstanding; Castle Bravo was the start of the nuclear age.)

It would be a stupid and terrible mistake for the president to authorize the use of nuclear weapons, even in the case of a retaliatory strike (and yes, I know according to MAD that’s what we’re supposed to do — it would still be a mistake.)

We’re not going to nuke the Taliban, no matter how much like a caricature evil overlord they become.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Well, in a lot of cases, there is sharing of data between intelligence services as long as the data do not reveal anything particularly disturbing about their own countries (USA even brags about a specific case concerning a small european country, for why secret services are necessary!).

The general problem is the extend of surveillance and the lack of rights afforded those being spied on. If USA has specific surveillance on every single non-american, I will bet you that some other countries will have the same data on every single american.

Secret services and their spying on foreigners is a weapon race. If one party is gathering data on another, the opposing countries will look to match that and then some.
Add to that, the refusal to recognize rights for foreign citizens concerning surveillance and you have got a completely out of control surveillance weapons race with no actual limitation except for a little subset concerning own citizens that they want as close to eliminated as possible…

This exact case is just politicians posturing. Merkel do not care in the slightest except for the upcoming election. France does care a little, insofar that it can be used in the TAFTA negotiations to push out cultural products from the deal and strenghten IPR. Most other countries do not care at all. Only a few EU parliamentarians really go at it and a few countries with upcoming elections. Mostly this is absolutely nothing major, but a small advantage in TAFTA negotiations. If it isn’t they have promised to slaughter the TAFTA negotiation entirely…

Kiwini says:

Did you expect something different?.

“Hey, Come On, You Guys Spy On Us Too, Right? Right?”

Evidently our current so-called POTUS thinks that two wrongs makes it all right, especially when he’s doing it at a far higher/more expensive level than the rest of the world.

It’s never his fault, and the answer from the White House is always denial. How long before he blames it on a previous president?.

Anonymous Coward says:

i think a real kicker is the UK. it is spying on US citizens as well as those in the UK and from what i understand, exchanging info with the US. that is a way for the US to say it isn’t spying on it’s own citizens. however, as a member of the EU, the UK must be exchanging info with the EU as well. talk about covering your options!

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

France Doesn't Get to Complain

The NSA’s spying apparatus is focused on national security, the French have been actively engaged in state-sponsored industrial espionage since the 1980s, if not before.


Not only have they spied on the US, they’ve done it to the UK as well.


And according to cables released by Wikileaks back in 2011, they’re the #1 country when it comes to industrial espionage.


In other words, the rest of the EU can feel free to tear Obama a new one over the spying scandal, but the French aren’t invited to the “shock and outrage” party.

Anonymous Coward says:

No, they probably do not

I haven’t heard of any European spy ending up exposed in remotely recent history. Given sheer cumulative odds I’d expect at least one exposure.Either they have elite operatives who make the CIA and KGB at its peek look like rank amateurs without showing any signs of nurturing or recruiting their talent or they’re more likely than not spying. If they have any “spies” they’re probably more newspaper forwarders. Hell, international news organizations do that job for near free for them.

Germany in particular has the whole lesson of the Stasi and would likely crucify any party that wanted to start spying. They also most likely don’t have the hypocritical and imperialistic “foreign people don’t count” attitude.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: The stupidity cancer

It’s not so funny when you’re in the US…or any other country whose politicians suffer from the same affliction.

As per any societal disease, it isn’t cured by electing the right guy back into office. I’m pretty sure Obama was the right guy. I’m pretty sure he believed his promises as a candidate. I think anyone who succeeds him is going to suffer from the same attitude adjustment.

…same as the old boss.

Anonymous Coward says:

You can tell that Obama wasn’t just backed by Hollywood during both his presidential campaigns….I mean look at the Hollywood stance he has on espionage.

Given that, what European nations would be interested in such chenangins? About the only country we need to worry about in that is North Korea and they are totally incapable of making a standpoint on that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Misdirection and again the idea that we just have to weather the storm and everything will go back to business as usual.

You hear nothing in this about we screwed up and while it might have been legal given that it passed through congress, it is still unconstitutional.

Funny how that is being avoided in being mentioned.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

And I guarantee you that in European capitals, there are people who are interested in, if not what I had for breakfast, at least what my talking points might be should I end up meeting with their leaders.

Maybe, Mr. President, but does that mean they have any interest in what I had for breakfast, or whatever I might discuss with their leaders (probably in a local cafe).

I think not. I think there are millions of lives irrelevant to politics, irrelevant to the war on terror that just want to be left the fuck alone.

And we have rules against forcing your way into our interests, just so that you can discern whether or not they are your interests too.

…well, we did.

RubyPanther says:

We catch our allies spying on us along with everybody else. President Obama is observing obvious fact. Those that complain even about basic facts in the world prove themselves breathless ninnies. Countries spy on each other. Duh.

I find it hilarious that the freakin’ Germans are whining about… being spied on?!? Yeah, they’ve never done anything as bad as spying… have they???

Spaceman Spiff (profile) says:

Violate the first rule of espionage

The US has violated the first rule of espionage – just don’t get caught! Violating that rule leave you open to all the cruft that we are facing now, and for good effect! To say that “everybody does it” is irrelevant – we know that already. The key is the “getting caught” part… Caveat spy master! The term “just deserts” comes to mind. 🙂

Robert says:

Proof that the obumer adminstion is a fraud

The obumer adminstation is nothing more then a group of thives and liers who place themself above the constition. The good news is that people are sueing them but they are not worried about it and when questioned they are playing stupid or acting like its not a big deal.Lets us hope that the courts will force the Obama administration to release its documentation to expose the rat they truely are.

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