Mardell: US spies act the injured innocent

 

There are few things Americans dislike as much as Europeans being sanctimonious.

After weeks of being accused of snooping on European citizens, the US intelligence agencies can no longer restrain themselves.

They've hit back with the less-than-elevating message that all spies are as bad as each other.

Some of National Security Agency (NSA) director General Keith Alexander's words to a Congressional committee are clear enough.

Gen Keith Alexander Gen Alexander: European media claims "false"

He said: "The assertions by reporters in France, Le Monde - Spain, El Mundo - Italy, L'espresso - that NSA collected tens of millions of phone calls are completely false."

So, first up, they were the innocent victims, wrongly accused.

The rest of the sentence probably needs running through the modern equivalent of the Enigma machine for some decoding.

He continued, those European newspapers he'd just mentioned "cite as evidence screenshots of the results of a web tool used for data management purposes but both they and the person who stole the classified data did not understand what they were looking at. To be perfectly clear - this is not information that we collected on European citizens. It represents information that we and our Nato allies have collected in defence of our countries and in support of military operations".

It seems he is saying European intelligence agencies collected the data on their own citizens who were operating outside their own countries and then shared it with NSA. In other words, not America's fault.

If this was the "we didn't do it" gambit, he and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper swiftly followed with "and everybody does it anyway".

For the spy chiefs did rather brazenly admit that tapping Angela Merkel's phone was pretty much par for the course.

Ignoring the fact that they had earlier claimed all their efforts were aimed at keeping America safe, they stated that gathering information on friendly leaders' intentions was a pretty basic duty.

They made no distinction between counter-terrorism and more humdrum but terribly useful information about foreign politicians' positions on anything from agricultural subsidies to inter-party factional fighting.

That sort of information is the ammo that allows diplomats to hit the target.

But they were eager to say that the Europeans "absolutely" did it to America.

Perhaps the difference is that the US security services were cautious enough to make sure Barack Obama, the first smart-phone wielding president in history, had a very special ultra-secure Blackberry.

They obviously knew how easy it was to crack. Mrs Merkel's people apparently did not.

This is still hideously embarrassing for the White House, and European outrage is not about to die away.

But the US hates being preached at and needs little encouragement to act as an injured innocent.

 
Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • Comment number 652.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 651.

    650. EUprisoner209456731
    ...although I do think there could be one if they ram the Euro down our throats as they did with the Lisbon Treaty.
    /////
    It's only a matter of time before the € will be worth more than the £ and as it's all about the pennies, that's the latest you'll drop your "principles".

  • Comment number 650.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 649.

    638 If you are thinking of becoming a poet, my advice to you is....don't quit your day job.

    642"As of January 2013, $5 trillion or approximately 47% of the debt held by the public was owned by foreign investors, the largest of which were the People's Republic of China and Japan at just over $1.1 trillion each."

    That's chump change. We could print that much in seconds.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 648.

    13.
    MagicKirin

    we don't like the hypocricy of much of the european left including several BBC media members (you included) not to mention anti U.S publications like the Guardian and Der Spiegel..

    ==

    We? Like Swedellara on here, claiming to be the representative of your country with a prefix such as we is laughable, delusional and beyond hilarious. You appear to actually represent zip.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 647.

    @ 645. Donkzilla : Also, just for your own sake, please supply an example of ANY British media asking he question of whether British Prime Ministers have been spied on by the US.

    I am being quite gracious and offering you a way out of the grave you dug yourself, so the least you could do is oblige me and not make me look silly for having indulged a timewaster.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 646.

    645. Donkzilla
    You do realise you're asking me to prove a negative?
    ////////
    The only thing I am asking you to do is to substantiate your point. The more you twist and turn, the sillier you look.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 645.

    643. J-M_Engele
    "but that ball is in your court."
    --------------------------

    You do realise you're asking me to prove a negative? The ball is in your court - simply show one example of the BBC making a comment or posing the question of whether British Prime Ministers have been spied on by the US, or accept you've been Donked. Go on, just ONE example. Thought so. Donked!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 644.

    622. EUprisoner209456731
    If we have an outbreak of polio in the "EU" it is likely to be a result or the policies of your lousy, morally illegitimate, sick, arrogant, much-worse-than -worthless, megalomaniac "EU"
    /////////////
    And what IF that doesn't happen?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 643.

    625. Donkzilla
    I kindly accept your tacit admission that the BBC have steadfastly refused to ask the question: Did the US spy on British Prime Ministers?
    //////
    Sorry for not considerately catering to your attention deficit - but that ball is in your court. You've been taught how to gather facts, act accordingly by substantiating your implications.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 642.

    @ 634. sieuarlu

    "Fact, China holds 1.2 Tn USD in Treasury Securities. The total US govt debt is 17 Tn USD so China owns about 7% of it."
    ----

    You pulled your facts out of your a***

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_of_the_United_States
    As of January 2013, $5 trillion or approximately 47% of the debt held by the public was owned by foreign investors, the largest of which were... China.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 641.

    As with anything we do, we seem to over indulge until we are put right.

    For instance. A stretch of road with a sign that says "go as fast as you want" most will go as fast as they can. Further along a sign reads "caution bad road ahead". Those who ignore this wind up dead.
    The people left must make a decision on how to proceed down this road. Usually with more caution. Spy toys are no different.

  • Comment number 640.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 639.

    @ 634. sieuarlu

    Nobody here cares whether the Chinese own 7% of your a*** or 100% of your a***.

    @ 636. MagicKirin
    It's like social security, you pay dole to stop the poor from eating the rich. In any case the EU was designed to prevent another WW. It's a worthwile union.

  • Comment number 638.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 637.

    636"since the U.K after Germany has the strongest economy of the major European players why should they pay to support Spain, Greece and the other entitlement states."

    Because they're suckers like we are.We do it through the UN and foreign aid.They add the EU to that list.Why take a chance on remaining solvent and viable when there's still time to get on board and go down with the Euro-tanic?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 636.

    ref #630 since the U.K after Germany has the strongest economy of the major European players why should they pay to support Spain, Greece and the other entitlement states.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 635.

    The US is a rogue state and Obama is one of the biggest rogues around.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 634.

    633Where do you get these stories. This fiction is brought to you by people who will tell you anything the hope will come true. Fact, China holds 1.2 Tn USD in Treasury Securities. The total US govt debt is 17 Tn USD so China owns about 7% of it.Most is owed to American citizens. Fact, much of China's industries are owned by American companies and that's where most profit goes.GNI, not GDP counts

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 633.

    629. sieuarlu
    "EU is BANKRUPT!"
    ---------------------

    Yes, and the US is owned by China. The Chinese can bankrupt the US whenever they please - the only reason they haven't done it already is because they want to play with their toy, not break it.

 

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