Spying on allies: The French have a right to be stirred up by the NSA

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The National Security Agency's universal surveillance program has claimed another victim as the French have exploded in fury at U.S. monitoring of their communications.

Edward J. Snowden's revelations, printed in Le Monde, informed the French people Monday that NSA surveillance had scooped up 70 million of their phone records in a one-month period beginning last Dec. 10.

This was nothing new, given previous reports that the NSA gathers data on Brazil, Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom as well as Americans' phone records, online data and email address books, with little regard to whether someone is a security threat.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff canceled a visit to the United States over the issue. The Brazilians were particularly annoyed that one NSA target was state oil company Petrobras, a competitor to U.S. firms, which calls into question the NSA's justification for spying. The Mexicans have muted their response to U.S. surveillance so far, considering it a normal part of U.S.-Mexican cooperation in combating drug and arms trafficking.

The French Foreign Ministry called in the U.S. ambassador and lodged official objections to the snooping. President Barack Obama responded by phoning President Francois Hollande to discuss the matter. The negative reaction of the French public was partly reflexive anti-Americanism, a problem between allies that showed its ugly head when the French did not support the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The French government in the form of the General Directorate for External Security spies on its own people, but that, in the French view, is different, in-house and normal.

Americans have the increasingly clear impression that the NSA and its practices are out of control in the Obama administration and need to be bridled promptly by the president, Congress or the courts. This new, ostensible price of being made safe has become far too high.

Spying on allies

The National Security Agency's extensive surveillance of the French is more evidence that the U.S. program must be reigned in.


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