At a recent European Union summit, German Chancellor Angela
Merkel responded to reports that the US monitored her cell phone,
saying that the spying represented a "severe breach of trust." Jeffrey
Brown gets background from Margaret Warner and Luke Baker of Reuters
about how European leaders are responding to US spying allegations.
US security forces may have tapped the personal phone of Angela
Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, it emerged last week. Chancellor
Merkel is not the only international leader whose communication was
supposedly tapped by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and both
France and Brazil have also demanded the facts surrounding the spying.
The NSA is a government agency dedicated to collecting information
for national security. The agency has been accused of tapping the
phones of several high-profile international leaders as part of their
information gathering intelligence program. The allegations have
surfaced through the information given by ex-NSA contractor Edward
The leaders impacted in the scandal are from Germany, France and
Brazil. There may be others who have had their phones tapped and we
will know more as more information is revealed about the program.
In addition to reopening the government, Senate leaders also agreed
to raise the debt ceiling limit, averting a potential financial crisis
by preventing a default. In a default, the US government would not be
able to pay its bills.
The scandal became common knowledge this past week, however the
allegations stem from information on a program that took place during
2006. The White House has not commented directly on past allegations,
but has said that they are not spying on Merkel now and will not in the
Despite friendly relationships, it is common knowledge that even
countries that are on good terms do some level of surveillance on each
other. However, this particular allegation has been treated more
seriously by the international community because of the personal nature
of this espionage (they tapped Chancellor Merkel’s cell phone).
Although the US and Germany are on good terms with each other, this
latest blunder on the part of the NSA may hurt US relations with
1. What are the risks and benefits of spying on countries that are
your “friends” and countries that are your “enemies?”
2. If you could hack into the phones of your friends and enemies would
you? Why or why not?
3. Should there be laws in place to limit the spying that the U.S.
government is allowed to do? What about spying on terrorists? How do we
draw the line?