The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

October 26, 2013

NSA spying threatens to hamper U.S. foreign policy

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The French government protested revelations this past week that the NSA had collected 70.3 million French-based telephone and electronic message records in a 30-day period.

Albright says Snowden's disclosures have hurt U.S. policymakers.

"A lot of the things that have come out, I think are specifically damaging because they are negotiating positions and a variety of ways that we have to go about business," Albright said at a conference hosted by the Center for American Progress in Washington.

"I think it has made life very difficult for Secretary Kerry. ... There has to be a set of private talks that, in fact, precede negotiations and I think it makes it very, very hard."

The spy flap could give the Europeans leverage in talks with the U.S. on a free trade agreement, which would join together nearly half of the global economy.

"If we go to the negotiations and we have the feeling those people with whom we negotiate know everything that we want to deal with in advance, how can we trust each other?" asked Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament.

Claude Moniquet, a former French counterintelligence officer and now director of Brussels-based European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center, said the controversy came at a good time for Europe "to have a lever, a means of pressure ... in these negotiations."

To Henry Farrell and Martha Finnemore at George Washington University, damage from the NSA disclosures could "undermine Washington's ability to act hypocritically and get away with it."

The danger in the disclosures "lies not in the new information that they reveal but in the documented confirmation they provide of what the United States is actually doing and why," they wrote in Foreign Affairs.

"When these deeds turn out to clash with the government's public rhetoric, as they so often do, it becomes harder for U.S. allies to overlook Washington's covert behavior and easier for U.S. adversaries to justify their own."

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