Has the outrage over NSA’s listening-in on Mrs. Merkel’s calls merely been a re-play of “Much Ado about Nothing”? Julius Caesar and Lorenzo de Medici had spies. The Rothschild’s gathered information to assist their far-flung Family Business. And, major corporations today spy on competitors all the time. So, knowing what’s going on with one’s adversaries–in both War and in Business--is nothing new. The question here appears to be: Is it proper to collect information on Friendly Nations, as well as Enemies?
During World War II, the United States shared information with the British, Canadians, Australians and perhaps other Allies. The value of nations combining such information enabled each to fill-in gaps in what their own spy networks had collected. And, after WWII, the various Major Powers continued to work together, in both Europe and the Pacific. Africa, the Middle East and South America seem to have always been considered somewhat of backwaters with regard to the need for hard intelligence.
During the Cold War period following WWII, Electronic Intelligence evolved and it has continued to do so as Technology overall has advanced. Nowadays, it has evolved light years beyond the Code-Breaking Era, where the various combatant countries each broke the other’s basic codes. Eventually, Encryption*, U-2 Spy Planes, Satellite Imagery and, now, Cyber-Warfare all have come into their own.
Over the last decade or so, the National Security Agency has been sharing Intelligence with its German counterpart Spy Agency–and no doubt, those of Britain, France, Japan, and other countries. Is there any reason to assume that none of these Super-Spies has not also been collecting information on Friendly Nations, as well? Were there any Agreements that they would not do so? HMMM.
Now, I am not suggesting that the NSA was doing any full-scale Electronic Spying on Germany, or any other Nation. Also, I have no knowledge of whether Germany was, in fact, aware that the U.S. was listening-in, or the full extent of the effort. But, given what each of the Major Spy Agencies knows about its Friendly Counterparts, might there be, at least, any valid reason to be surprised that Friendly Spying either HAS or IS occurring? Perhaps, in both directions?
The next point is, given the Faux Collegiality that is rampant within Diplomacy today, what if each side was spying on the other. Well, what happens when one side gets caught? Is the other absolved? Does it stop? From what I understand, the respective American and German versions of NSA continue to work together–as they had in the past. So, is the recent German outrage over the NSA listening to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone conversations actually a charade–and mostly for public show?
Initially, Washington wanted to send the CIA Director, John Brennan, to meet with his Intelligence counterpart, and without him speaking with Lawmakers or making any public statements, according to German Officials. Berlin balked at that solution, since the controversy would be handled in secret, within the Intelligence Community. Instead, the Obama Administration has now dispatched Denis McDonough, the White House Chief of Staff, and Lisa Monaco, the chief counterterrorism advisor. That would provide the “public aspect” which the Merkel Administration had insisted on.
Once again, in the World of sophisticated Spy-versus–Spy Culture, might it be a mistake for any nation to assume that it knows who is reading its communications, listening into its telephone conversations or otherwise spying on it? Given the insistence by Germany7 for a public solution, it sure appears that the whole situation was anticipated; but, that Mrs. Merkel choses to cry “foul” in a public arena.
* The difference between Encoding and Encryption is that, in a Code let’s say, one character (letter or number) is substituted for another (for instance, a = c, b = d, and so on) until the Code is changed. With Encryption, however, the character that is substituted for another is continuously changing.