Spying Has Seriously Hurt U.S. Relations With Germany

Chancellor Angela Merkel just asked the top U.S. spy in her country to leave, marking the latest chapter in an ongoing diplomatic nightmare that started with the Snowden leaks.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends the 67th sitting of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament in Berlin, October 27, 2010. Merkel rode to the defence of a controversial Franco-German plan to toughen Europe's fiscal rules, ahead of a summit set to be dominated by a row over the proposals. AFP PHOTO/ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
National Journal
Dustin Volz
July 10, 2014, 6:20 a.m.

In a re­mark­able show of agit­a­tion, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel has told the U.S. spy chief sta­tioned in her coun­try to go back home, ac­cord­ing to mul­tiple re­ports.

“The gov­ern­ment has asked the rep­res­ent­at­ive of the U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies in Ger­many to leave the coun­try as a re­ac­tion to the on­go­ing fail­ure to help re­solve the vari­ous al­leg­a­tions, start­ing with the NSA and up to the latest in­cid­ents,” a Ger­man law­maker told re­port­ers Thursday.

Merkel’s de­cision to ask the top U.S. in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cial to leave is the cul­min­a­tion of nearly a year’s worth of spy­ing scan­dals that have angered the power­ful ally — and re­peatedly left U.S. of­fi­cials scram­bling to do dam­age con­trol.

Ten­sions boiled to the sur­face when leaks from Ed­ward Snowden re­vealed that U.S. spies had tapped Merkel’s phone, but a cas­cade of re­cent con­tro­ver­sies since then have brought the dip­lo­mat­ic mess to a new level.

Last week, Ger­many de­tec­ted and ar­res­ted an ac­cused spy be­lieved to be un­der con­tract with the CIA and passing secrets to the U.S. When Merkel and Pres­id­ent Obama spoke by phone to dis­cuss pla­cing fur­ther sanc­tions on Rus­sia, Merkel didn’t bring up the com­prom­ised spy, which at the time Obama was re­portedly un­aware of.

But now there are new al­leg­a­tions from Ber­lin that the U.S. has re­cruited an­oth­er spy. Taken as a stub­born re­fus­al by the U.S. to change or even dis­cuss its spy­ing pro­tocol, Ger­many is now tak­ing a more force­ful ap­proach to lim­it U.S. in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tions.

“That is just so stu­pid, and so much stu­pid­ity just makes you want to cry,” said Wolfgang Schauble, Ger­many’s fin­ance min­is­ter and an ally to Merkel.

Ger­many’s out­rage at the U.S. for its spy­ing has even had an eco­nom­ic im­pact. Last month, Ger­many an­nounced it would can­cel a con­tract with Ve­r­i­zon be­cause of con­cerns over data pri­vacy sparked by the Snowden files. And U.S. tech firms have routinely warned the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion that fears sur­round­ing its sweep­ing do­mest­ic and in­ter­na­tion­al sur­veil­lance pro­grams could lead to bil­lions of dol­lars in lost rev­en­ue for their in­dustry.

In her first pub­lic re­marks since ac­cus­a­tions of the second CIA spy sur­faced on Wed­nes­day, Merkel con­demned Amer­ica’s es­pi­on­age on al­lies as a “waste of en­ergy.”

When Merkel vis­ited the White House in May — her first since the Snowden rev­el­a­tions came to light — she said she was con­fid­ent Pres­id­ent Obama would be can­did about dis­cuss­ing spy­ing prac­tices. Obama said the two coun­tries were “not per­fectly aligned” on how they viewed gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance of al­lies, and ad­ded that he wanted to “make sure there are no mis­un­der­stand­ings” with Ber­lin.

But giv­en Merkel’s re­cent ac­tions, those “mis­un­der­stand­ings” may have trans­lated in­to mis­trust.

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
When It Comes to Mining Asteroids, Technology Is Only the First Problem
23 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Obama Reflects on His Economic Record
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Reagan Families, Allies Lash Out at Will Ferrell
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."

Source:
PEAK CONFIDENCE
Clinton No Longer Running Primary Ads
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-ex­pec­ted primary battle be­hind her, former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton (D) is no longer go­ing on the air in up­com­ing primary states. “Team Clin­ton hasn’t spent a single cent in … Cali­for­nia, In­di­ana, Ken­tucky, Ore­gon and West Vir­gin­ia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “cam­paign has spent a little more than $1 mil­lion in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone back­er in the Sen­ate, said the can­did­ate should end his pres­id­en­tial cam­paign if he’s los­ing to Hil­lary Clin­ton after the primary sea­son con­cludes in June, break­ing sharply with the can­did­ate who is vow­ing to take his in­sur­gent bid to the party con­ven­tion in Phil­adelphia.”

Source:
CITIZENS UNITED PT. 2?
Movie Based on ‘Clinton Cash’ to Debut at Cannes
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."

Source:
×