Angela Merkel Not Permitted to See What the NSA Has On Her

Angela Merkel is supposed to have a face-to-face meeting with President Barack Obama. If it actually happens it looks like it is going to be a rather tense and uncomfortable encounter. The U.S. government is refusing to let her know how much they spied on her.

From the Guardian:

The US government is refusing to grant Angela Merkel access to her NSA file or answer formal questions from Germany about its surveillance activities, raising the stakes before a crucial visit by the German chancellor to Washington.

Merkel will meet Barack Obama in three weeks, on her first visit to the US capital since documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA had been monitoring her phone.

The face-to-face meeting between the two world leaders had been intended as an effort to publicly heal wounds after the controversy, but Germany remains frustrated by the White House’s refusal to come clean about its surveillance activities in the country.

In October, Obama personally assured Merkel that the US is no longer monitoring her calls, and promised it will not do so in the future. However, Washington has not answered a list of questions submitted by Berlin immediately after Snowden’s first tranche of revelations appeared in the Guardian and Washington Post in June last year, months before the revelations over Merkel’s phone.

The Obama’s administration has also refused to enter into a mutual “no-spy” agreement with Germany, in part because Berlin is unwilling or unable to share the kinds of surveillance material the Americans say would be required for such a deal.

As a strictly Constitutional and legal matter I don’t have any problem with the Federal government’s refusals. In fact, if they had agreed with Merkel’s request and showed her the file they had compiled on her, I would complain that a foreigner is getting better treatment from the NSA than Americans do.

But I have to ask: How we are made safer by the NSA when it alienates Germany? We are at the brink of all sorts of conflict with Russia (not war, I hope!). Can we really afford to alienate a potential ally? How safe is the world going to be if everyone hates us and refuses to cooperate with us?

Of course, Merkel herself would probably be able to adjust to the fact that an NSA spy dossier is something with which she has to live in the so-called “free world.” But she has to keep up appearance of outrage or else the Germans are going to start to doubt that they are really a sovereign and independent nation.

Merkel is intensely aware of the importance of the surveillance controversy for her domestic audience, and is planning to voice Germany’s concerns privately with White House officials and leading senators. She will also be “forthright” in confronting the issue if she is asked by reporters during a press conference with Obama, according to a well-placed source with knowledge of the trip.

In other words, she will put on a good show for the patriotic Germans back home watching on TV.

The Obamaphone Ladies