Trusting No One: How America Is Watching Every Step Made By Its AlliesCC0 / PixabayWorld15:17 25.10.2017(updated 15:22 25.10.2017) Get short URLDenis Bolotsky124509
Even after the end of the Cold War, the United States has been maintaining its military installations in friendly European nations, such as Germany. Apparently, such a heavy military presence hasn’t been enough to ensure loyalty, since Uncle Sam has also been spying on their leaders and the people of these nations.
It went off like a bomb: instead of focusing on al-Qaeda and the jihadis, America’s National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on America’s European allies. Numerous reports in German newspapers and magazines in 2013 suggested that their country, which hosts the largest number of US military installations in Europe, was also one of the key targets on the NSA spying list.
The US established listening posts in Berlin and Frankfurt, as well as a number of other European cities. Some of these facilities were operating from within US diplomatic compounds.
Apparently, Washington didn’t trust its allies much, since it carefully monitored every step that Berlin made. According to German media, the NSA has been listening in on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone conversations for as long as 10 years.
According to WikiLeaks, besides the chancellor’s new and old mobile devices, the NSA targeted the landlines and cellphones of Merkel’s aides, her chief of staff, her political office and even her fax machine – a total of 125 phone numbers.
The US wanted to know it all – for instance what Merkel had said in her conversations with her French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy about the future of Europe’s economy, or what she thought about Obama’s engagement with Iran, as she spoke with United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Shaykh Muhammad bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan.
Merkel commented on the spying scandal, saying that it was unacceptable for friendly nations to spy on each other, but supported Germany’s own spy agency BND in its cooperation with the NSA when it comes to fighting terrorism.
Preventing terrorist activity was initially proclaimed as one of the main purposes of the extensive surveillance programs in the US and abroad, but, as it turns out, Uncle Sam was collecting much more data than it needed for the cause – both at home and abroad.
Further publications by WikiLeaks revealed how easy it was for US spies to tap into communications and how much American taxpayers were charged for it. Cyber offense programs were funded ninefold more than cyber defense strategies by the US government, and all possibilities were explored to penetrate computer networks, including the use of undocumented security flaws in popular hardware, such as Cisco network equipment.
Caught red-handed, the American leadership had no other choice but to specifically address the NSA’s mass surveillance practices.
In January 2014 Barack Obama gave a speech, promising to increase restrictions on the data collection of American citizens and calling for increased oversight of government agencies.
But while Obama’s speech might have satisfied some critics at home, it certainly didn’t have that calming effect abroad. Obama’s words weren’t enough for the US allies, since he mostly concentrated on domestic surveillance and didn’t say much about putting an end to America’s spying games overseas.
According to classified documents obtained by the media from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the US spy agency was keeping tabs on 122 world leaders, among them presidents and prime ministers, heads of international nonprofits, corporate leaders and private individuals.