Germany and America: Bugging Mrs Merkel

IN JULY, when revelations by Edward Snowden were just beginning to drip out about the breathtaking extent of American spying on its own citizens and allies along with its enemies, Barack Obama, the American president, was still hoping everyone would simply calm down. “Here’s one last thing,” he said at one press conference. “I’m the end user of this kind of intelligence. And if I want to know what Chancellor Merkel is thinking, I will call Chancellor Merkel.”He was speaking about Angela Merkel, one of the most pro-American leaders of a country that has been one of America’s closest allies. For her part, Mrs Merkel also spent the summer trying to minimise the scandal. She was in the throes of an election campaign and her opponents were trying to paint her as either naive or weak in the face of American violations of German privacy that were being compared to the practices of the Stasi, East Germany’s notorious secret police.Mrs Merkel was re-elected in September, but the scandal did not go away. Each new revelation has caused fresh outrage somewhere. The Americans allegedly spied on the leaders of Brazil and Mexico and offices of the European Union. On October 21st Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, summoned the American ambassador in Paris after Le Monde, a newspaper, reported the huge scale of alleged American spying on French citizens….

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