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Discussion Question, Sami Haidar

Can Someone Please Tell the NSA That This Is Not the 1970s?

Here’s Sami’s response:

So only a week ago, it was revealed that the NSA had been listening in on the calls of our close allies, including the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Later, the Spanish government issued a warning to Washington that there could be a “potential breakdown of trust” between the two governments amidst allegations that the NSA tapped and monitored over 60 million calls in Spain over the last month. U.S. Ambassador James Costos was sent to Madrid where he was forced to explain Washington’s actions. In a statement, he acknowledged that some of America’s close allies had raised concerns, but he maintained that the NSA had “played an instrumental role in [our] coordination with [our] allies and in protecting their interests as well.”

Really? Doesn’t this sound all too familiar?

This is what we were told following Edward Snowden’s revelations. The NSA was spying on us, for our own good, for our own protection. We knew to some degree we were being monitored, but we didn’t know the vast extent to which our privacy had been breached. With each week, we learn what little regard our federal government has for our privacy and liberty. But it is one thing when our government spies on us—it’s an entirely different situation when they spy on our allies.

America has a tendency to completely disregard the sovereignty of its allies. Just look at the drone strikes in Pakistan. The Pakistani government continues to protest and condemn those strikes, though Washington insists that it is for our mutual benefit. But whether this NSA strategy is a part of the Obama Administration’s ‘War on Terror’, ‘War on Drugs,’ ‘War on Piracy’ or whatever its new target is, wiretapping the phones of the leaders of our closest allies does not achieve anything.

Yes, this is not the Cold War. Threats to our national security and safety are no longer obvious. It is not a league of nations or ideologies versus another. At the same time, this is also not the Cold War. Have we not learned the dangers of collective mistrust of one another? Our collective mistrust nearly assured our mutual destruction. Granted, the countries we are keeping tabs on today are not our declared enemies, but still, spying on Europeans is so 1970s.

If anything, with a threat so global and pandemic, we should be working closer together with other nations, not spying on them. What the NSA is doing is putting America in a more precarious position. If others cannot trust us, they will certainly be more reluctant to share potentially critical intelligence. Anti-American sentiment already runs rampant around the world, why must we encourage it in our allies?

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