Reuters reported last night:
President Barack Obama has ordered the National Security Agency to stop eavesdropping on the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank as part of a review of intelligence gathering activities, according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter.
The order is the latest move by the White House to demonstrate that it is willing to curb at least some surveillance in the wake of leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden of programs that collect huge quantities of data on U.S. allies and adversaries, and American citizens.
The NSA’s surveillance of the Washington-based IMF and World Bank has not previously been disclosed. Details of such spy programs are usually highly classified.
Ironically, I have very little problem with the Adminstration spying on the IMF, the World Bank, or the United Nations because I don’t think those institutions are allies of the American people. In fact, I view them as quite the opposite.
Do we have any evidence yet that Obama has stopped the NSA from doing mass data collections on his own people?
Then again, there are probably plenty of Americans in IMF building in Washington DC. And, in theory, these people are supposed to be protected by the Fourth Amendment just like any other American. I suppose they are protected just as little as the average American.
The news story confirms what I have mentioned elsewhere, that the NSA’s mission is so broad that we have no reason to trust that it is devoting its efforts to protecting us from terrorist attack.
Loch K. Johnson, a former congressional oversight aide who is now a professor of international relations at the University of Georgia, said Obama made the right decision by curbing eavesdropping on international organizations and friendly foreign leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“I think it’s a good idea to cut back on surveillance” of economic-related targets, Johnson said. “The enemy is terrorism and we should focus on that. We have to focus almost all of our resources on Al Qaeda and its affiliates,” he said.
So where were we focused before? Where would the NSA still be focusing its efforts if it wasn’t for the courage of Edward Snowden?
According to real economics (i.e. capitalism) there is no conflict between the people of different nations. We are all better off as we trade with each other and each person’s prosperity adds to everyone else’s. Apparently, under Obama and the Keynesians, each nation is a threat and we need to spy on them for the sake of our own economy.
That is a depressing vision. I prefer reality.