The NSA revelations, as promised, keep coming.
The latest is that the US has been spying heavily on its closest allies in the EU. This has, predictably, not gone over well with the Europeans who are miffed at the idea that their own friends are spying on them. The language emerging from them has been exceedingly harsh, suggesting that this may not be the usual faux outrage designed simply to pacify their own citizens. The reaction has been more of a sense of betrayal of trust, like that of someone discovering that their lover has been snooping through all their personal things. John Kerry’s ‘surely everyone does this’ defense is not going down well.
This latest revelation has also exposed the hollowness of the US claims that all this is done in order to protect against terrorism.
“The Americans justify everything with combatting terrorism,” said the Luxembourg foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, who on Sunday described the latest allegations as disgusting. “The EU and its diplomats are not terrorists.”
Harlem Désir, the head of the French Socialist party, told France Info radio that if the latest revelations were true, “it would be an unacceptable scandal”. He said the spying allegations were of such a nature that they could call into question the EU-US negotiations. He added: “The fight against terrorism cannot explain everything.”
Meanwhile, reports are emerging that Edward Snowden, the person who opened the floodgates to all this information, may ask to stay in Russia, and the Russian president has said that he will not hand him over to the US. Like with Ecuador, the past actions of the US have made its claims for extradition of Snowden hollow, even if such a treaty with Russia existed, which it does not.
Since Putin first acknowledged Snowden’s arrival in Moscow, officials have repeatedly noted the absence of a bilateral extradition treaty. Russia has often expressed concern over its citizens held in the US, namely Viktor Bout, a convicted arms trafficker with suspected ties to Kremlin officials.
These countries seem to have the quaint idea that some sort of reciprocity should exist between nations. For so long, the US was the country that political fugitives fled to, so they could simply reject demands from other countries to return them. It is not used to the idea that people now view it as an oppressive state to flee from, and so its past decisions are coming back to haunt it.