WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

NSA surveillance still a time-bomb for U.S./European relations

President Obama's N.S.A. speech did little to quell European (especially German) qualms about Uncle Sam as Big Brother.

I don't think I could exaggerate how the N.S.A. surveillance stories have struck raw nerves in Deutschland, with long memories of Nazi Germany, and then the former East Germany with its Stasi secret police.

I often listen on weekends to domestic German F.M. pop stations on the Internet via live streaming. I rarely hear a newscast without some reference to the N.S.A., Snowden, etc. (No knowledge of German necessary)

See this article in SPIEGEL on line...


Some Americans might be inclined to say to hell with German sensitivities. If the surveillance keeps us safe...

....Except it remains an open question whether such pervasive surveillance IS keeping us safe.

Posted at 8:21am on January 21, 2014 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Tue, Jan 21, 2014 8:26am
Talk about burying the lede: Allan Loudell listens to German radio via Internet audio streaming. Not short-wave. This is it! Short-wave is dead. International broadcasters can shut down the remaining short-wave transmitters.

What's next? Shut down domestic medium-wave?

Allan Loudell
Tue, Jan 21, 2014 8:40am
I still listen to shortwave as well, Bill. And other terrestrial broadcasting. But sure, the internet is a wonderful way to hear local domestic broadcasters from other places I could never hear any other way. But still... buffering and other problems accessing stations from some more obscure countries.

Incidentally, the Chinese are still all over shortwave, and rebroadcasting on local stations in the Third World, mindful that millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa, etc., have no access to computers.

Perhaps mindful of that (and to return to the German theme), Deutsche Welle still broadcasts on shortwave... via Kigali, Rwanda.

Tue, Jan 21, 2014 9:13am
Snowden's revelations about N.S.A. spying on our enemies and allies should not have been that huge a surprise (we spy on them and they spy on us)...the Stasi-type spying on law-abiding citizens in our country should infuriate ALL Americans...but most citizens have "fallen asleep" and can't be bothered by this huge invasion of privacy and violation of our 4th Amendment rights.
Under our Constitution, the government can’t spy on you or search your property without a warrant.

Tue, Jan 21, 2014 10:11am
Earl, the courts have recognized a foreign intelligence surveillance exception to the Fourth Amendment. Don't blame the left. It comes from your side. The right has been willing to toss out the Bill of Rights any time the government says "national security." Just as they toss it out in the name of stopping crime, or toss environmental protection in the name of "job creation."

Most people don't get infuriated unless something affects them directly, or people they know, or people they see as somebody like them. If Middle-Eastern looking people get pulled over in airports or on Interstates, that's OK with you tea baggers.

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me."

Mike from Delaware
Tue, Jan 21, 2014 10:40am
Spying is one thing, but this N.S.A. thing is Big Brother and does not help win the U.S. friends. We'd not like it if the Germans, Chinese, Ruskies, Israelies, or even the Canadians and British were doing what we appear to be doing to them. We as a nation have stepped over the line. Just because we have the technology to do such a thing doesn't mean we should do it. No wonder we're hated by so many people around the globe.

Tue, Jan 21, 2014 10:55am
Mike: The Chinese, Russians, Israelis, etc. are spying on us...especially China & Russia. The biggest violation in this N.S.A. story is the blatant spying on U.S. citizens without warrants. It was one thing when a wire-tap was literally someone going out and tapping the phone lines of an individual suspected of breaking the law...thanks to digital tech everything we do leaves a digital fingerprint which allows EVERYONE to be tracked/monitored at the same time. Even N.S.A. has said they have too much information to properly sift out the real intelligence on real "bad-guys" like the Boston Bombers. The other problem is that all this digital information is being stored in the giant Utah database...stored forever.

Tue, Jan 21, 2014 11:36am
No, Earl. Especially the Mossad.

And even more especially....Google. They just paid big bucks for a company that makes home thermostats and smoke detectors that can be programmed from smartphones - and which learn to program themselves, expecting to learn even more about what people do in their homes.

Mike from Delaware
Tue, Jan 21, 2014 12:27pm
EarlGrey: The fact they're collecting that info [even if not listening to it] is scary, both here domestically and overseas. It's one thing to get a court order to collect info on a suspected terrorist, its something else to say all citizens are potential terrorists [sort of a 21st Century McCarthyism]. Instead of looking for a Commie under every bed, they're looking for a terrorist under every bed. Ole Tail Gunner Senator Joe [McCarthy] and J. Edgar Hoover would be proud of today's NSA.

Tue, Jan 21, 2014 2:32pm
McCarthy and Hoover: Both right-wing Republicans. Your people. The beam is in your own eye.

Mike from Delaware
Tue, Jan 21, 2014 4:32pm
Billsmith: who are you directing your comment about Hoover & McCarthy to. I'm not a Republican.

Again, don't assume, that all Christians are Republican. I know many who are Democrats & others like me who are Independents.

By the way, I read somewhere recently within the past month or so (don't remember where, if I manage to find it again I'll supply the link) the article mentioned that McCarthy was gay, I guess he was one of those "log cabin Republicans".

Tue, Jan 21, 2014 4:48pm
MFD: Not directed at you. While you are a Christian all the time, you are a conservative some of the time (i.e., on some issues). Earl, all the time. I just find it interesting that all of a sudden conservatives, in general, are getting sensitive on the issue of privacy and civil liberties. The right's view traditionally can be summed up as good Americans have nothing to hide.

McCarthy and Hoover? Both closet queens, eh? Add to that Roy Cohn. Almost funny, since they all went out of their way to persecute gays and to link homosexuality with communism. I bet shrinks can have a field day with that.

I wondered if you found that article on the GW Bridge and transplant hospitals interesting. I hadn't thought about it, just assuming that all hospitals take care of everything. But as I think about it, I remember all the news stories of people being sick or injured in Delaware and being air-lifted to some specialized medical center in Philly, or being brought from PA to some specialized center in Delaware.

Mike from Delaware
Tue, Jan 21, 2014 6:04pm
Billsmith: That was a good point, & you're right folks get rushed to Crozer-Chester for burns all the time, Jefferson Hospital in Philly for other stuff, even Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, so it isn't unreasonable for folks from North Jersey to get rushed to a NYC hospital that has a specialty.

Mike from Delaware
Tue, Jan 21, 2014 6:09pm
Billsmith: Good point about the shrinks having a field day unscrambling all that with Hoover & McCarthy.

Tue, Jan 21, 2014 7:38pm
MFD. Thanks, both times.

As I think about it, maybe the N.S.A.'s problem here is too much secrecy. Maybe they should have taken a page from J. Edgar's book. He spent his whole career collecting information of U.S. citizens in secret and promoting the heck out of himself - and the organization - in public. When embarrassing stuff came out, the media downplayed it and people were reluctant to believe it. Besides, politicians and the media knew he had too much dirt on them to try and mess with him. As LBJ once said eloquently when asked why he didn't fire Hoover: "I'd rather have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in."

Mike from Delaware
Tue, Jan 21, 2014 8:05pm
Here is something I found on McCarthy; can't find the other article: "For some time, opponents of McCarthy had been accumulating evidence concerning his homosexual activities. Several members of his staff, including Roy Cohn and David Schine, were also suspected of having a sexual relationship. Although well-known by political journalists, the first article about it did not appear until Hank Greenspun published an article in the Las Vegas Sun in 25th October, 1952. Greenspun wrote that: "It is common talk among homosexuals in Milwaukee who rendezvous in the White Horse Inn that Senator Joe McCarthy has often engaged in homosexual activities."

McCarthy considered a libel suit against Greenspun but decided against it when he was told by his lawyers that if the case went ahead he would have to take the witness stand and answer questions about his sexuality. In an attempt to stop the rumours circulating, McCarthy married his secretary, Jeannie Kerr. Later the couple adopted a five-week old girl from the New York Foundling Home."


Tue, Jan 21, 2014 8:07pm
I could care less if the N.S.A. wants to spy on Germany or any other European country. Obama discredited this nation in their eyes long before this. The only issue that's important is how the N.S.A. and other agencies such as the I.R.S., E.P.A., and F.D.A. treat the American people. They better start respecting us because we're the ones paying their lucrative salaries.

Sad to say that were it not for Ed Snowden committing acts of treason, this N.S.A. fiasco would never have been exposed.

And now they want to elect Hillary "Ethel Rosenberg" Clinton?

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