Are headline-hungry European politicians milking the NSA scandal by feigning alarm, while playing into the hands of Russia and China, who want to see Obama’s back? La Stampa columnist Gianni Riotta warns that effectively destroying the Obama presidency over the age-old practice of spying on allies will blow up in Europe’s face.
In a comical scene from the classic movie Casablanca, looking for excuses to shut down a nightclub run by Rick – Humphrey Bogart – the amusing French Captain Renault bursts out: “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” – just as the croupier hands him his winnings. The same hypocritical and embarrassing shock runs through Western foreign ministries that publicly pretend to be “shocked” to learn that there has been surveillance conducted by our American allies against their European partners, including the Italian Embassy in Washington
The practice, revealed by German newspaper Der Spiegel and the English Guardian as part of their coverage of the NSA case involving the PRISM program and whistleblower Edward Snowden – now a refugee in Putin’s Russia – is neither virtuous nor respectable, nor as far as the public is concerned – acceptable. Spying among friends is disagreeable. But as diplomats, politicians and practitioners of international affairs know perfectly well, intelligence agencies seek to monitor “all” information from enemies and allies alike. The English used to keep an eye on De Gaulle during the Second World War. Italy and Germany, allies, spied on one another so much that their suspicions are even documented in Galeazzo Ciano’s diaries [Ciano, Italy foreign minister and Mussolini’s son-in-law, was killed by firing squad after being charged with treason by the Nazis].
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