NSA: A Repeat of Watergate

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Democrats are usually the ones to promote more government control, but President Nixon was a Republican. Though he achieved many things during his presidency, like most people, he is remembered for his scandal. The Watergate Scandal was named after the Watergate Complex in Washington D.C., the location of the Democratic Party headquarters where Nixon’s men were caught breaking in. This was not the limit of the illicit activities Nixon led. His surveillance was far more meticulous, bugging offices of his opponents and creating transcripts from the tapes. Public outrage fueled the nation, and talks of impeachment spewed from most mouths. After much denial, Nixon accepted the blame, publicly apologized for his mistake, and acquiesced to the public consensus about his misbehavior by resigning. The matter of right and wrong was obvious.

Less obvious but very similar is the situation with the National Security Agency. They are not only analyzing domestically, but also internationally. NSA’s interactions with other nations are mirroring Nixon’s ideology. NSA permits the US to monitor our competitors and alter our diplomacy respectively. Although NSA’s spying had been justified as a security precaution against terrorism, NSA is towing a fine line. Germany, France, Mexico, and Brazil have all officially complained to the US about NSA’s interference. The famous fugitive and ex-NSA member, Edward Snowden claimed that NSA was monitoring the phone calls of 35 world leaders, among many other political officials, sparking the debate about NSA’s morality. Since then, resentment, both foreign and domestic, has prevailed.

Last month, Dilma Rousseff, the Brazilian president, spoke at the UN general assembly, bringing to light her discontentment with NSA activities pertaining to her nation, “tampering in such a manner in the affairs of other countries is a breach of international law and is an affront of the principles that must guide the relations among them, especially among friendly nations. A sovereign nation can never establish itself to the detriment of another sovereign nation. The right to safety of citizens of one country can never be guaranteed by violating fundamental human rights of citizens of another country,” she condemned. The NSA, she announced, collected personal information of Brazilian citizens, along with information about specific industries, primarily oil industries. The German Chancellor, Merkel also confronted the US about NSA recent activities, “we need to have trust in our allies and partners, and this must now be established once again. I repeat that spying among friends is not at all acceptable against anyone, and that goes for every citizen in Germany.”

Similarly, Le Monde, a reputable French newspaper, released information on NSA’s french metadata, “the NSA graph shows an average of 3 million data intercepts per day with peaks at almost 7 million on 24 December 2012 and 7 January 2013.” Le Monde also claimed the NSA planted bugs in the French embassy in Washington, and hacked tens of millions of computers in France this year. Prior to the news leak by Le Monde, French foreign minister, Mr Fabius, told the US president,”I said again to John Kerry what Francois Hollande told Barack Obama, that this kind of spying conducted on a large scale by the Americans on its allies is something that is unacceptable.” With the shocking new information about NSA’s unlawful actions being published, the situation,  on US-French relations are exacerbated.

The difference in our ease to distinguish right and wrong in the Watergate scandal and the NSA security breaches test our morals. Are American morals contingent to our context only? Our action so far indicate that spying domestically on our opponents is a mortal sin, but internationally, it is okay. The freedoms we are allotted and the restrictions we face are variables of time, as is our living constitution, but what about our morals? The Watergate Scandal demonstrated American tenacity for ethics and caused for an eradication of a wrongdoer, will the NSA breach result in a fix too?- Will government policies adjust to current times to keep stable our set of values?

 [Press TV] [BBC] [Le Monde] [Euronews]

Featured image courtesy of [Mike Herbst via Flickr]



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