Europeans are upset after learning that, in addition to capturing the email and phone records of Americans, the NSA has been doing the same to them in a global assault on privacy. This includes leaders of allied nations. The United States is now viewed as an international rogue nation with no respect for the law or privacy or even loyalty. Now into this explosive environment has jumped Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Rogers responded directly to the French and said that this is all a “good thing” and the French should really be “applauding and popping champagne corks” for keeping them all under surveillance and destroying any notion of privacy.
Senator Marco Rubio (R., FL.) offered his own reaction to the story with a dismissive comment that “everybody spies on everybody.” Privacy it appears is worth little more than a shrug today. That is now the range of concern for the death of privacy among our leaders from a dismissive shrug to an open celebration.
Rogers truly personifies the new mentality of the surveillance state created under President Obama. While George Bush sought to expand surveillance, it was Obama who succeeded in getting Democrats and other politicians to embrace the new security state and a transparent society model. What is most striking is how members, particularly those supposed to be exercising oversight of these agencies, have become virtual spokespersons for the security state.
Rogers is a former FBI agent and is married to a former government contractor with the United States Department of State for intelligence-based and physical security services.
When asked how we should to respond to the French who are a bit peeved about having millions of calls intercepted, Rogers did not even suggest a hint of concern for privacy (which is so last century in the minds of politicians):
“I would argue by the way, if the French citizens knew exactly what that was about, they would be applauding and popping champagne corks. It’s a good thing. it keeps the French safe. It keeps the U.S. safe. It keeps our European allies safe. This whole notion that we’re going to go after each other on what is really legitimate protection of nation-state interest, I think is disingenuous.”
Presumably, the “really legitimate protection of nation-state interest” supporting American surveillance of the world is the same “really legitimate protection of nation-state interest” that supports our claim to be able to use drone attacks without the permission of countries, even allied countries, if we consider the target to be legitimate. It is unclear who is telling Rogers that objections to capturing communications of allied leaders and nations are clearly “disingenuous.” That “disingenuous” concern for Rogers concerns the monitoring of 70 million French telephone calls and Rogers simply cannot understand why the French are not thanking us. That is why those Spaniards intercepted among the 60 million calls by the NSA should be equally overjoyed. Indeed, he has attacked the media (as have Democratic leaders over prior surveillance stories) for upsetting people. He has denounced the stories as “dangerous” — not dangerous like a surveillance state, mind you, but dangerous because the government is your friend.
If Rogers appears in denial if not openly delusional, it is part of the new reality that has been created by the Obama Administration that borders on Orwellian doublespeak. Privacy is now a threat; the media is now a danger; and government monitoring is now reassuring . . . and of course the French should go back to the old grateful, Champaign-drinking, American-led silent partners that we used to love.
So, to France, Michael Rogers wishes to say, “De rien!”