No one likes a nosy neighbor.
The worst ones are the ones who get caught — the ones you can see peeking through their blinds or craning their necks over the fence and then ducking back down when you look up from the leaves you’re raking and catch them.
That’s the position the United States has found itself in on the international stage — the nosy neighbor who got caught snooping.
There’s no greater testament to the fact that the U.S. intelligence and defense budgets could use paring down than the recent revelations that the National Security Agency was monitoring the personal cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, along with a litany of other world leaders.
There are far more pressing issues threatening our national security than a voyeuristic desire in the intelligence community to know how many times Merkel plays Candy Crush on her iPhone every day.
The Germans are, in theory, one of our strongest allies in Europe. They will stay that way, because they have more to lose by dropping the U.S. than the U.S. has by losing them. But it’s doubtful that the NSA gained one single piece of actionable intelligence from monitoring Merkel’s phone that couldn’t have been gained through normal diplomatic channels.
This is the reality of living in the U.S. today — there was a time when “the government is listening to your phone calls” statement was the prized territory of conspiracy theorists and mercenaries. Now, even though the notion that someone with the NSA is actually tapped into every American phone call is a gross exaggeration, the capability is there, and it’s being used to a certain extent.
There are a few members of Congress expressing outrage at this newest batch of NSA revelations and how the intelligence community does business. The ones who believe our intelligence apparatus is too far-reaching don’t have the power to make any real difference in the situation.
The American people will have to press the issue, and vote for leadership that believes in protecting our interests in efficient, reasonable ways.