Spies vs. spies: Who is listening to whom?

The headlines should not be reading: “America, listening in on the world.” It should be: “Who isn’t listening in on whom?”

Since the days the Romans sent spies into Egypt to learn of its defenses against a possible Roman attack the world has been spying on both friend and foe.

In 1986, the United States had to build a new embassy in Moscow when it was discovered that Russian construction workers, building the just-finished embassy structure, had planted bugs in every room in the new building. If not for the discovery the Kremlin would have been listening to every word spoken from the Ambassador to the cleaning ladies — who probably were Russian.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff abruptly cancelled a high-level meeting with the President of the United States because of American spying on her office only to have egg on her face when Brazilian newspapers started reporting that Brazil has been spying, eavesdropping on the United States all along. Who is spying on whom?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel got all out of shape when it was learned that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has been listening in on her cell phone conversations since 2002.

The Wall Street Journal recently reminded us that in the 1970s a top aide to then- German Chancellor Willy Brandt was exposed as a communist agent, forcing Brandt to resign. More recently, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, again of Germany, sought to scuttle the U.S. invasion of Iraq by forming a united diplomatic front with France and Russia. That history, points out the Journal, shows why it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on Berlin.

The list of complainers grows. France, most well known for its spying apparatus, bitterly complained about U.S. invasion of private conversations. General Keith Alexander, NSA director, went before Congress and told members that the records, in fact, had been handed over to us by our European intelligence agencies. Who was spying on whom?

Mexico, Spain, Italy and 28 other nations so far have joined in what looked like a possible political win for a bunch of countries only to be proven to have been, in the main, spying on the U.S. all along.

The latest spy discovery revealed that Russian’s token gifts to the heads of states at the recent G-20 summit contained bugged memory sticks and power cables. When faced with the revelation the Kremlin said that the U.S. was trying to “divert attention” from its own spying.

We, like all other nations, must have an intelligence operation. Only by spying on our allies as well as purported enemies can we be sure of their true relationship with America. If nothing else, it keeps other nations on their toes knowing that we are listening in on their operations. The only downside to the current revelations is that the “other guys” will work harder in building defenses in their countries against us and other nations.

Please, please, let’s get on with the subjects of budgets, national debt, education and the future of America.

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