An Angry Europe Faces Up to U.S. Spying and the War on Terrorism’s Legacy

Time: Romano Prodi, the former Italian Prime Minister, first felt the reach of U.S. surveillance about 10 years ago, soon after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when he was serving as President of the E.U.’s main governing body, the European Commission. On an official visit to Jerusalem, he was having breakfast at the King David Hotel when he took a call from the head of an Italian energy firm to discuss the firm’s American competitor. Prodi, who recalled the incident in an op-ed published on Friday, even went onto the terrace of the hotel to make sure no one could eavesdrop on the call. A few weeks later, he awoke to find a transcript of the conversation printed in the press and attributed to anonymous American sources. “It is certain, at least in that case, that terrorism had nothing to do with the illegitimate tapping of private phone conversations,” Prodi wrote in Italy’s Il Messaggeronewspaper on Oct. 25.

For European leaders, such violations of privacy seem to have become an occupational hazard over the past decade or so, ever since the U.S. declared its war on terrorism in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Over the weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel became the latest one to face this reality when the weekly magazine Der Spiegel reported that the U.S. National Security Agency began tapping her phone as early as 2002, within about a year of 9/11. On Monday, two Spanish newspapers reported that the NSA had recently collected data on 60 million phone calls in Spain in less than a month. All of these reports were based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, whose latest round of revelations has focused on the scope of American spying on its own allies.

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Categories: Europe and Australia

1 reply

  1. A spy’s job description is to spy. With the latest technological advancement that has now become easier to ‘spread the net’ wider and wider. (Not sure how they tackle the ‘information overload’). It is the politicians and those funding the programs who are supposed to come up with limits. Clearly this has not yet happened. Let’s see if the current upheaval will result in suitable limits being drawn up. (Personally I do not have great hopes in that direction).

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