It seems as though every week there is a new reason to question the NSA and the incredible amount of power they have been granted through the Patriot Act. This week it was revealed that the agency had monitored 35 world leaders, beginning in the Bush administration and continuing with full force under Obama.
As one might imagine, this has been a public relations nightmare for our government. It was bad enough that the scope of spying by the NSA had “accidently” targeted American citizens without warrants, but now our nation has admitted to intentionally bugging the telephones of some of our most important allies. Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel — one of the allied leaders who was spied on — is pushing for a new intelligence agreement with the United States. The international community feels that agreements like this are now absolutely necessary for maintaining any form of the current alliship with the U.S. This is a little worrying, considering our government is completely at fault for this breach of trust and is thus at the mercy of our allies.
Quite simply, the actions of the U.S. government and the NSA are outrageous. We have been caught with our hands in the cookie jar, and all we can say is “whoops.” Spying on enemy states during a conflict is one thing, but serious questions should be raised when spying of this scope is revealed on some of our most crucial allies.
Germany and other EU countries are right to seek international agreements to change this behavior immediately and we should be thankful that thus far their demands have not been too harsh. It is nothing short of a miracle that the U.S. still has any influence in the international community between threatening a global economic collapse with our government shutdown and spying on any world leader whose phone we can get our hands on.
So, where do we go from here? As with any lapse in judgment, I believe it is best to start with an apology both to the U.S. citizens and to the world at large. We have gone way too far and our increasing paranoia for all things terror needs to be addressed. From there, we should agree to just about any intelligence demands that come through the UN and other international channels so as to restore our alliships and improve the trust that was broken both domestically and abroad. But in the end the only thing that will truly get us back on track on an international level would be to repeal the Patriot Act. We need to repeal this act and wipe clean all the ridiculous executive power structures that it has granted. We have seen the executive power explode into areas that it was never meant to oversee. The “special courts” that have made decisions on wiretaps are a prime example of this.
By allowing our government to use the fear of attack to justify its expansion, we now live with the reality of privacy becoming extinct. The only way to change this is to change our laws and follow the very document that was set up over 200 years ago to keep this short of ballooning government in check.
As awful as it is that our government was tapping allied leader’s phones, I for one am glad it happened. Now our attention has once again turned to our government’s misdeeds and maybe this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.