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Discussion Question, Kathy Dimaya

The NSA Game is Now Harder to Play

This week, we asked our bloggers to respond to the National Security Agency’s decision to bug German Chacellor Angela Merkel’s phone from 2002 to 2013. Check in every day this week to read a different side of the story, as told by our JPIA writers.

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Here’s what Kathy had to say:

Edward Snowden is wreaking havoc on international relations yet again. This episode of drama features the revelation that the National Security Agency was wire tapping Angela Merkel’s calls from 2002 up until a few months ago, translating to over a decade of breached privacy. The discovery is not only portraying the United States in an even more negative light, it is adversely impacting Obama’s perception in the eyes of the public. The same public that the NSA was chastised for looking into. But the question on everybody’s mind is: did President Obama know about the surveillance of Angela Merkel? Despite reliable reports, the NSA denies claims that Obama was briefed on the wire tapping in 2010.

And so, the American public is posed with two distinct and curious situations. If the answer to the above question is yes, why did he let the surveillance continue? Germany is an ally, and as far as the public is concerned, it is definitely not a terrorist threat to the United States. Is it necessary to surveil every country in the world, friend and foe alike? Does surveillance make the U.S. government an international busybody or a defender of American national security? On the other hand, if the answer is no, why did he not know about it? The leader of the free world needs to know when that freedom is being violated. Obama was elected as the representative to the Executive Branch, the branch of government responsible for deciding how and what kinds of political action should take place. In my opinion, he should have known. It is a tall order to demand that a single man know everything that goes on in such a vast and extensive government, but it is his job. We elected him to that position to supervise the proceedings of government (or at least the electoral college voted him to do so.)

The implications of the surveillance are severe for the United States. Already, the international community is doubting us, and it is probably only the beginning of a series of more serious surveillance tactics conducted by the NSA. We have been snubbed by many diplomats and national leaders since Snowden opened Pandora’s Box containing free information, spying, and secrets. In the eyes of an American, these tactics may be justified. America is a country built on protecting and priding in itself. However, the same cannot be said for countries in other parts of the world where privacy may be held in higher regard than national security.

Obviously, the NSA has gone too far. Not for true moral’s sake, but simply because the international community is, excuse my French, pissed. But I believe that every country knows why the U.S. is doing what it is doing. If every country had the same capabilities as the U.S., they would probably do the same. But in a world of uneven resources and means, the U.S. appears like the overreaching big brother, the man with all the power doing whatever he wants just because he can. And that is what is making the world angry. Not that the U.S. is trying to defend itself, because every country has that same inclination, but because the U.S. has the money and they are using it to a resentful degree. Basically, the world is jealous.

And unfortunately, a line cannot and will not be drawn. No matter how much the U.S. promises to other countries that the spying will stop, it simply will not. Spying is secretive, and so the U.S. will just continue doing everything, you guessed it, in secret. The covert intelligence game is hard to play. Usually the game is played cunningly in the shadows, and the fact that Snowden has brought it into the limelight has only made the game all the more difficult to play.

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