If Bush was bad, then Obama has been far worse. Bush at least believed what he spoke and followed through in action. Obama won was given his Nobel Peace Prize on the basis of expectations that he raised by running his mouth. But his actions were hyper-Bushian.
I don’t condemn any government for spying on other governments. We all know that the official job of government is to protect people from attack. In order to do so, the rulers of these governments must get as much advanced warning as possible. So people in government are going to want to get information about people in other governments to make sure they are not planning any kind of attack on the United States.
So, in theory, spying can be justified.
But just because spying can be justified in the abstract doesn’t mean that it is always the best thing to do. For example:
“Brazil has just exacted a bit of diplomatic revenge over the news that the NSA was reading the emails of President Dilma Rousseff, other Brazilians, and the state oil company Petrobras. President Dilma Rousseff has made the rare decision to scrap a state visit to Washington planned for next month, reports the Wall Street Journal. What’s more, her move came after a personal phone call from President Obama yesterday.”
I suppose many will reply that we shouldn’t care if the people and/or rulers of Brazil are angry at the US. But, for the same reason, why should we spy on the Brazilian president’s personal emails? This doesn’t sound like some kind of careful national security decision. It sounds like merely an arrogant policy dreamed up by arrogant bureaucrats who think they can do whatever they want because we’re us. We simply scoop up whatever emails we can even if there is no real reason to suspect a threat.
Furthermore, spying on Petrobras wasn’t US national security; it was US corruption and industrial espionage. Of course, James Clapper claimed that it didn’t count as industrial espionage, and we can all be totally assured that he is telling us the “least untruthful” thing that he could say.
While national security may dictate spying sometimes on some other governments, those same concerns can dictate that we not do so. It may not be much of a threat, but it doesn’t enhance US national security to spread hatred of us as the world’s peeping toms in other countries. Furthermore, it diverts resources from dealing with our real enemies. Can anyone believe that the NSA feels threatened by terrorists if they are willing to devote time to intercepting the emails of a South American president and friendly ally? Also, when we do have real enemies, we need to have more friends tham they do. Doing national security against a few threats when we have secure allies all over the world is far easier than doing so when we have earned the hatred of most of the world.
Obama’s promises don’t help our reputation when we are caught spying; they just make other people angrier. We aren’t just violating other nations then; we are also betraying them.