More controversy is spilling out of the Edward Snowden revelations about the extent of the NSA’s spying techniques, and this time it’s rattling some very big cages indeed. The NSA is now alleged to have tapped the phones of 35 world leaders, having gleaned contact data from White House staffers’ Rolodexes.
The new revelations, which do not name the leaders involved but do cover about 200 politically important individuals, come with a strange rider. The leaked memo that admits the U.S. spied on about 20% of the world’s leaders also admits that no useful information has been found due to the surveillance. Nevertheless any such surveillance is an extraordinary breach of international diplomatic protocols, which are a loose and sometimes bizarre but critical part of the way international dealings are enabled.
Recent revelations that the NSA has allegedly undertaken long term tapping of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone have caused a political storm in Europe. The action has prompted renewed calls for a non-US-controlled Internet in Germany, and caused the government to summon the U.S. ambassador.
Separately it seems the former director of the NSA Michael Hayden hasn’t heard the adage “loose lips sink ships” as he carried out a conversation so loudly on an Amtrak train that another passenger was able to tweet out key points.