In a press conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Obama both spoke favorably of American intelligence work.
In 2013, news that the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) had tapped Merkel’s phone caused a sensation. The United States promised to knock it off. Merkel, at the time, was less than pleased: “Friends don’t spy on each other,” she said.
Now, things appear calmer between the two nations. Here’s Merkel earlier today discussing the need for collaboration with the United States:
There are still different assessments on individual issues there, but if we look at the sheer dimension of the terrorist threats, we are more than aware of the fact that we need to work together very closely.
And here is Merkel praising the effectiveness of the United States’ intelligence apparatus:
The institutions of the United States of American have provided us and still continue to provide us with a lot of very important, very significant information that are also important to our security.
President Obama, also had comments on the work of the NSA and his other intelligence organs:
What I would ask would be that the German people recognize that the United States has always been on the forefront of trying to promote civil liberties, that we have traditions of due process that we respect, that we have been a consistent partner of yours in the course of the last 70 years and certainly the last 25 years in reinforcing the values we share. So, occasionally, I would like the Germans to give us the benefit of the doubt, given our history, as opposed to assuming the worst.
A call for civility! 2015 surely is a new year.
I think this all indicates that the larger cooling of interest, and anger concerning the large-scale spying efforts of the NSA extends past the borders of the United States, reaching other nations.
That said, Snowden Effect is far from over, even if it has become increasingly occluded. Thanks to the information leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, a British court recently ruled for the first time that, as TechCrunch reported, “intelligence sharing activities between the NSA and the equivalent government intelligence agency in the U.K., GCHQ, were unlawful in the past on the grounds that they breached European human rights law.” That happened just last week.
We will have another national discussion about the NSA, surveillance, privacy, and the proper place for encryption in our digital lives this year. Certain parts of the Patriot Act that much NSA surveillance depend on for legal standing are set to sunset, which will ignite a fight to either let them die, or re-up them for another go’round.