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Spying goes both ways

Column by Alec Hamilton

AlecHamilton-w2000-h2000The United States intelligence community, specifically the National Security Agency (NSA) is once again under fire for alleged misdeeds regarding its spying programs.

The fallout of Edward Snowden continues to wreak havoc as now the U.S. is accused of spying on the leadership and citizens of its allies, including Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel.

Now not only is U.S. intelligence accused of illegally spying upon its own citizens but foreign nationals abroad as well.

I will not argue whether or not it’s right for the U.S. to spy on foreign leaders and citizens or not.

What I will argue is that this new development is not nearly as harmful as others might believe. In fact, I will argue that this is par for the course.

The United States has one of the best intelligence services in the world, but many of our allies are no slouches either.

Competition between intelligence agencies was commonplace during the Cold War, especially between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. This does not just include espionage. Any way that our intelligence services could one up another it was seen as a victory. Just because the Cold War ended does not mean that this behavior has.

The intelligence community throughout the world isn’t exactly the most forthcoming community.

What we hear about in the news is most definitely only a fraction of what truly goes on. For their populations’ sake, world leaders have to denounce any accusation of spying, whether they are accused of it or victims.

To say anything else would only worsen the situation and draw more focus upon a part of government that is supposed to operate in relative secrecy.

I postulate that not only is the U.S. spying upon foreign citizens and leaders, but that the U.S. is also being spied upon by other countries and acknowledges that fact, at least internally.

Just because two countries are allies does not mean they are forthcoming with honest and open communication.

Also, just because two countries are allies does not mean one can’t take an action that might adversely affect or present a threat to the other country, whether on purpose or incidental.

Whether or not that’s a justifiable excuse is up to you as an individual.

Edward Snowden did not just out an American secret, he outed an institutional secret that intelligence communities throughout the world are complicit in.

The U.S. is not special in its efforts to gather intelligence.

Most likely if the U.S. is doing it, then other countries throughout the world are as well

In today’s technological environment, nobody stays significantly ahead of the pack for long, and most advanced countries have comparable capabilities and this applies to intelligence gathering as well.

Countries will bluster about the leak for a while, and then relations between the U.S. and its allies will return to normal with the incident intentionally forgotten by both parties.

Hamilton is a senior international relations and news-Internet double major and can be reached at alec.hamilton@drake.edu


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