The Obama administration is embroiled by new revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) not only monitored U.S. citizens’ phone records, but also those of foreign leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Brookings scholars offer recommendations and commentary.
US intel officials are angry w/Obama & they defy the White House, saying it OKd spying on allies | http://t.co/MlKHnT5I6S
— Mike Doran (@Doranimated) October 29, 2013
Jack Goldsmith, a nonresident senior fellow in Governance Studies and contributor to Lawfare blog, was “very skeptical about the suggestions in recent days that neither the White House nor the congressional intelligence committees knew about NSA collections against leaders in allied countries.” Indeed, as the LA Times reported, the White House and State department signed off on the activities. Goldsmith says “there is a lot more to learn here.”
Darrell West, vice president and director of Governance Studies, said that the revelations “are a serious setback in our relations with allies.”
Everyone understands that [surveillance] is fair game with adversaries. But allies don’t expect to get treated as enemies and are upset that America would stoop to this level. That is the most surprising part, that our intelligence agency spied on the heads of state of our closest allies.
Allan Friedman, research director of the Center for Technology Innovation (CTI) at Brookings, called the lack of fear about the ripple effects if the surveillance activities became known publicly “a gross failing in the intelligence community and in the executive and legislative bodies that have responsibility for oversight.
In September, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff postponed her state visit to the United States over revelations of NSA surveillance activity in her country. Harold Trinkunas, director of the Latin America Initiative at Brookings, said that “NSA electronic surveillance highlights the degree to which Brazil’s sovereignty can be compromised by outside forces” and concludes that the incident will cause Brazil to add itself to the list of countries attempting to reform how it, and other South American countries, handle their data.
In June, CTI hosted a discussion on the subject Trinkunas raised in the Brazil context: the global discussion around national and international institutions that govern the flow of data around the world.
Additional expert commentary on the latest revelations appears below:
The NSA is spying on Israel thru US Embassy, says Israeli intel analyst, who spied on the US spies | http://t.co/3mJQwGuK59
— Mike Doran (@Doranimated) October 30, 2013
— Peter W. Singer (@peterwsinger) October 30, 2013
Buzz abroad: US doing badly what it’s s’posed to be good at (democracy & economy) & doing well what it’s not s’posed to do at all (NSA etc).
— Strobe Talbott (@strobetalbott) October 29, 2013
— Dan Byman (@dbyman) October 28, 2013
When you get caught doing something stupid, saying “Everyone else does it” stops being a good defense at age 3. #NSAfiles or life lesson?
— Peter W. Singer (@peterwsinger) October 29, 2013
Only a problem if you believe him. MT @BarakMendelsohn How can there be effective oversight if POTUS is in the dark about NSA activities?
— Mike Doran (@Doranimated) October 28, 2013
[U.S. military capabilities in the Pacific are] very imposing, very impressive [and are intended] to deter the North from any kind of potential actions. But if the North were to act, the U.S...would have to deploy far more to the peninsula and the region as quickly as possible.
[So far there have been no efforts to evacuate U.S. citizens living in South Korea.] That would be the clearest indication that we were headed toward war. And I don't think we are.