It was recently revealed that the National Security Agency secretly monitored European leaders and 60 million Spanish phone calls from a spying hub in the United States German Embassy, all while President Obama was reportedly oblivious to the program.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was so discomfited that even after President Obama personally apologized, she called for a European-wide reconsideration of cooperation with U.S. intelligence agencies. The new revelations will make an already tense situation much worse.
During TechCrunch Disrupt Europe in Berlin, TechCrunch TV went out to get some reactions to gauge local sentiment regarding the news. We didn’t find any protesters in front of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, which sits right next to the Brandenburg Gate and just about a mile away from Angela Merkel’s office.
Sadly, most people were too afraid to actually talk to us about the NSA on camera, but we found a few brave Germans who were willing to talk to us. Here is what they had to say.
In case you want to read up on the current state of this affair, here is a quick breakdown of the recent news:
From documents provided by notorious NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Germany’s Der Spiegel reports that U.S. spies posed as diplomats and set up spying hubs in Frankfurt and Berlin. A clandestine force, the Special Collection Service, built special permeable walls to listen to all manner of communication — “cellular signals, wireless networks and satellite communication.” German officials have ordered an investigation and are pretty angry.
El Mundo reports that the NSA collected 60 million phone calls and Internet browsing behavior in Spain (original Spanish). Glenn Greenwald, the former Guardian reporter who co-authored the story, notes that that this kind of spying is punishable under Spanish law.
President Obama was apparently oblivious to the German spying. “These decisions are made at NSA,” one official said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “The president doesn’t sign off on this stuff.” Defending the practice, John Schindler, a former NSA official, reminded the Twitterverse that 9/11 had been partly orchestrated in Germany.