The United States has recently come under fire from states around the world for shady intelligence gathering policies.
While U.S. chief intelligence officials argue that these surveillance programs are necessary to maintain national security and the White House continues to dismiss the charges as nothing out of the ordinary, it is becoming increasingly clear that the United States has seriously disturbed some of its closest friends and allies.
Documents leaked by whistle blower Edward Snowden last year accuse the United States of collecting data from perhaps more than 70 million telephone calls made in France.
It was disturbing enough when Snowden revealed in June that the National Security Agency was collecting data from phone calls in the United States from Verizon customers, but how can security officials justify tapping tens of millions of phone calls in France, a historic ally?
It’ll be pretty tough to do. It’ll be even tougher to justify monitoring the phone calls of the world’s most powerful leaders;.They’ll have to try, because the United States had taken to collecting information from phone calls of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and German chancellor Angela Merkel.
The monitoring of Rousseff points to previously troubled relations with South and Central American countries, but monitoring Merkel is a different story. Merkel has criticized the the action of the United States.
U.S. surveillance measures worked to damage trust between the U.S. and one of the leading countries in the European Union. While James Clapper, the U.S. National Intelligence Director, has denied the allegations on Tumblr, the U.S. government hasn’t been hesitant about stretching the truth on their intelligence gathering practices in the past.
These so-called “national security measures” have done nothing but harm the image of the United States abroad. The United States can’t afford to take many more hits to its diplomatic credibility, especially with citizens stateside already raising their eyebrows at the government’s own domestic surveillance policies.
President Obama has previously said that his administration has struck a proper balance between security and privacy. The more details that emerge about current security and intelligence programs, the easier it is to see that isn’t the case. Allegations like these will only hurt our ability to defend our interests abroad if national security were to really be jeopardized.
If institutions like the NSA don’t begin to reverse course to a creeping surveillance state, the United States will lose support from both key international partners and the domestic population.
Dylan Lajoie, aka “Pickles,” is a senior political science major with a concentration in international studies.