October 25, 2013

SEE, THIS DOESN’T BOTHER ME MUCH: NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders after US official handed over contacts. Here’s why:

(1) It’s their freakin’ job to spy on other countries. That’s why they’re an intelligence agency. Sure, everyone’s putting on their shocked face now, but in fact those countries have their own spying programs, and many of them, despite what they’re saying now, are deeply involved in cooperating with the United States intelligence-gathering operation.

(2) Unlike spying on American citizens — where the risks of political abuse are genuine — spying on foreigners poses relatively little domestic political threat. The danger of domestic spying is that a President will be strongly tempted to use those powers not for national security reasons, but for purposes of blackmail and political strategy. Those dangers are largely absent when you’re spying on Angela Merkel.

The big embarrassment here isn’t the spying, but rather the fact that it has become public due to the incompetence of those charged with keeping it secret — and, of course, the inept response once the news has come out.

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