Analysis

The Real Agenda Behind NSA Protests in Germany and France
German Chancellor Angela Merkel listens to a question during a press conference in Berlin in June. Revelations of National Security Agency surveillance of millions of European phone calls, including calls made by Merkel, have damaged US relations with Europe. (ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
November 5, 2013
| Security
| Europe
Summary
National Security Agency surveillance of European phone calls, including the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has prompted grave concern in the media and among elected officials and could damage U.S. relations with its allies. However, there is evidence that the anger expressed by French and German leaders is mostly theatrical, a show meant to pressure the United States to expand an intelligence-sharing arrangement between America and other English-speaking countries.
A primary motivation behind German and French condemnations of NSA spying in Europe appears to be to pressure the Obama administration to allow them to join the “five eyes” intelligence relationship that the United States has with the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Under the agreement, these nations have agreed not to spy on each other while sharing a significant amount of intelligence gathered on other countries. Several U.S. intelligence experts, among them former CIA Director James Woolsey, have called for enlarging the “five eyes” agreement to include Germany and France, yet significant French and German policy differences with the United States would make such a move inadvisable for now.
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