I dedicate this little essay to the countries at the UN, including Germany, France, Mexico, and Brazil, drafting a resolution to "stop NSA surveillance." Please gentle readers, forgive this rare PG-13 undiplomatic outburst aimed at these countries by the usually genteel Diplomad: Hey, guys, STFU! Hypocrisy does not even begin to describe what these yahoos are up to.
I have written before (here and here) about the ludicrousness of France, Brazil, and Mexico complaining about supposed US intel collection against their politicians and citizens. Grow up, dudes. All three of those countries have intel organizations which collect against foreign and domestic targets. Having worked in all three, I know that for a fact. The French, in particular, have highly developed intel organizations that operate inside and outside of France and collect all sorts of political, economic, and, above all, industrial and commercial data, including from the United States and Germany. I find surprising that the Germans, who normally act quite sensibly about these matters, have, in Moynihan's immortal phrase, "joined the jackals" at the UN. Among those jackals we find well-known big-time spy countries such as Cuba and Venezuela.
A little bit on the French and Germans. Since World War II, both have resented the "special relationship" that exists among the UK, Australia, Canada and the US on intel matters. They particularly resent the US-UK intel relationship. If you recall, Charles de Gaulle wanted to keep the British out of the Common Market precisely because of the US-UK relationship on national security issues. That resentment continues to this day because the relationship continues to this day. Our bottom line has been and is that the Brits are our allies and very, very good at intel work; they, in essence, are the founding fathers of modern intelligence work. Then we have the Germans. The Germans were disastrously bad at intel during World War II. The British ran circles around them for the whole war; the Abwehr and its successor, the RHSA, created after Hitler dissolved the Abwehr in 1944, were completely outclassed by the British both on Sygint and Humint and in the conduct of disinformation operations. That tradition of incompetence in the intel arena was carried on by the West German BND, which was riddled with Soviet and East German agents. So, it seems, the Germans, who build some great cars, are a bit touchy when the subject of intel comes up. During my career in the Foreign Service, more than once I had German diplomats complain about the relationship we had with the British. As noted above, however, the Germans were discreet about this, and certainly did not vent their frustration in "jackal" behavior at the UN.
My position is that spy organizations spy. The NSA has a mandate to collect intelligence. The problem we now face has come about because the NSA, particularly under this misadministration, is not only out of control on the domestic scene, but so sloppy, so poorly run that a weasel junior contractor such as the traitor Snowden can carry out a massive operation against them in cooperation with the world's stupidest newspaper, The Guardian, and, despite his disclaimers, probably with the Russians and the Chinese. One has to wonder if the NSA is employing ex-Abwehr or BND agents.
In addition, and perhaps more serious, as I have written at length, we have a misadministration so incompetent in the area of foreign affairs, so determined to make America weak and irrelevant, that nobody takes us seriously. Even allies such as Germany and France have no problem circling in to take a bite out of us while we are drowning and bleeding. They see no cost to venting their long-standing frustration. Believe me, this would not have happened were Bush president.