Der Spiegel’s revelations that the US National Security Agency has been surveilling European embassies and EU offices has generated the usual knee-jerk reactions. Luxembourg Prime Minister is quoted as saying, ‘The United States would be better off monitoring its secret services rather than its allies. We must get a guarantee from the very highest level now that this stops immediately.’ President of the EU parliament, Martin Schultz, said he was ‘deeply worried and shocked’ by the allegations.
Now the EU is either being led by the most naïve and out-of-touch bunch of bozos since the dawn of parliamentary democracy OR the EU is being led by the most naïve and out-of-touch bunch of bozos since the dawn of parliamentary democracy.
What did they expect?
The whole premise of surveillance, especially the deepnet surveillance practiced by the NSA, is that its aim is to prepare a full 360⁰ portrait of enemies extent and enemies future. Now seen through the NSA’s eyes the EU must be a rich vein of real and present threats. European capitals – London and Madrid – have been the target for attack by Islamic extremists and this sort of extremism is readily exportable and therefore a potential threat to the USA. Moreover, the impression I’ve always got when dealing with Americans is that they have a somewhat paternalistic view of European competence (understandable seeing as they had to dig us out of the mess created by two world wars) and hence would be loath to rely on European security services to monitor and control their indigenous terrorists. The temptation to give us a surreptitious hand must have been overwhelming.
Secondly, the best surveillance is that which has no gaps. If China or Russia believed that in order to protect European sensitivities Europe was a surveillance no-go zone they would have a field-day. Europe would become the soft underbelly of the USA. Moreover, to provide its leaders with a full view of what is going down in the world vis-à-vis China and Russia the NSA needs to know what is happening between the EU countries and these two super-powers.
So the Europeans can vaporise all they want but the NSA is going to go right on surveilling us … just, I suspect, as we are surveilling the Americans.