NSA Spied On 3 French Presidents, According To Latest WikiLeaks Documents
The Obama administration might be soon needing another foreign policy clean-up crew. According to the latest WikiLeaks release, the U.S. National Security Agency spied on three French presidents, a move that, if true, could test the relationship between the two allied countries. Current President Francois Hollande is holding an emergency meeting with security officials to evaluate the possible intrusion, the Associated Press reported.
The documents, published on WikiLeaks' site Tuesday as well as in French outlets Libération and Mediapart, reportedly show U.S. surveillance of Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Jacques Chirac, along with cabinet members and the French ambassador to the United States. The materials also appear to detail conversations between Paris officials, who candidly discuss everything from Greece's economy and France-Germany relations to the future of the European Union and the United States' record of spying on allies. In a statement released Wednesday, the French Defense Council said the country would not allow "any action jeopardizing its security and the protection of its interest."
Though there was no immediate confirmation of whether documents were accurate, WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson told the AP he was confident in their authenticity. WikiLeaks, founded by Julian Assange, has a track record of obtaining and releasing sensitive intelligence and diplomatic content. In a statement, Assange said:
The French people have a right to know that their elected government is subject to hostile surveillance from a supposed ally. We are proud of our work with leading French publishers Liberation and Mediapart to bring this story to light. French readers can expect more timely and important revelations in the near future.
This isn't the first time the United States may have been caught snooping on its friends. Exiled former NSA contractor Edward Snowden sent a number of media outlets documents that alleged the NSA tapped the phone of Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor who was reportedly identified as a "target" for surveillance. Obama denied knowledge of any surveillance, and the NSA backed that up, saying the president was unaware. Last June, German Federal Prosecutor Harald Range said he had opened a preliminary investigation into the alleged incident; the investigation was recently closed for lack of evidence.
So what does this mean for U.S.-France relations? The running joke is the French hate Americans, but when it comes to government work, the two countries are actually pretty chummy. Hollande and Obama have a solid friendship, going so far as penning a Washington Post op-ed together that explains how the United States and France have a "renewed alliance" to work together in global issues such as Middle East conflict, trade, and climate change.
For more than two centuries, our two peoples have stood together for our mutual freedom. Now we are meeting our responsibilities not just to each other — but to a world that is more secure because our enduring alliance is being made new again.
Maybe Obama didn't know about the NSA spying on his political BFF. But I don't know what's more embarrassing: not knowing what's happening in your country or having to apologize for knowing what's going on in your friend's.
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