German Eavesdropping on U.S. Leaders
Most friendships are built on mutual respect and trust. This usually means being open and honest, but also respecting each other’s right to privacy and to keep certain matters to themselves. Is there any situation that would make it right to snoop on a close friend’s private life? This scenario is playing out on a global scale between some of the most prominent world leaders, as revelations of spying between friendly nations have come to light. Attention has been specially focused on the continuing drama between the United States and one of its most important allies: Germany. The tension began a few months after American intelligence contractor Edward Snowden leaked thousands of classified documents just before fleeing the country in the summer of 2013. That October it came to light within those documents that the U.S. monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal mobile phone. Although the White House officially denied spying on Chancellor Merkel, the incident sparked anger and suspicion not only in Germany, but among other European allies worried about surveillance as well. Distrust can now flow both ways, however, after an investigation claimed this week that Germany conducted surveillance of its own. The largest revelation alleged that Germany conducts systematic espionage on Turkey, a mutual ally of both Germany and the U.S., but it also pinpointed incidents of eavesdropping on former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and current Secretary of State John Kerry. The incidents involving Clinton and Kerry are apparently unintentional and isolated events, but that does not stop the U.S. from accusing Germany of hypocrisy. All told, what was once a guarded secret is now all out in the open: the U.S. and Germany spy on allies, including each other. But is this beneficial, providing both nations with important intelligence for their own national security, as some argue, or is spying counterproductive, critically undermining mutual trust and cooperation? It is no secret that rival nations aggressively spy on one another, but what happens when we find out that two allies do so as well? Is it justifiable for two friendly nations to spy on one another, or should allies trust each other and let leaders maintain their privacy?