U.S. spying scandal: Communication lines under tension

Yesterday evening Vladimir Putin probably went to bed with a broad grin. That American intelligence may have listened in on the private telephone calls of the German Chancellor sounds at first like a joke. A US wiretap on a European leader who has never yet shown any anti-American tendencies in her entire political career and has always bravely stood up for the transatlantic axis? That will have raised hoots of laughter not only in the Kremlin.

With the state of affairs being what it is, though, the outrageous-sounding story appears not to have been merely plucked out of thin air. The reaction of the Chancellor’s Office and of the White House suggest in any case that the story uncovered by Der Spiegel is not without basis. The scale of the scandal still cannot be measured. The number of questions, though, can be.

Bugging only a trifle?

First of all, it would be good to know why this incredible breach of trust was exposed not by German intelligence services but by journalists. Does the BND [German secret service] consider the eavesdropping on the most powerful politician in Europe a mere trifle?

At the same time, one has to wonder who actually is in charge of the intelligence services in the United States of America. Merkel is not the first female head of state affected here; Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, has clearly come into the NSA’s sights, which led her to cancel a state visit to the United States in September.

Only a few days ago in Paris the American Ambassador was hauled into the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs because of suspicions that the war on terror is serving to cloak industrial espionage as well.

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