It has been a bad week for America’s spies. Firstly the Le Monde reported that the US had dipped into the phone calls of millions of French citizens. The revelations were swiftly followed by allegations that the US had bugged the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The robust response of both Paris and Berlin has caused acute embarrassment for the Obama administration, in both cases the US ambassadors were summoned by the irate allies to explain.
Annette Heuser, Executive Director of the Washington based Bertelsmann Foundation, a German-American think tank believes the fall out from the scandal will linger for some time to come: “The fact that the German chancellor obviously had so much evidence to feel comfortable calling up the US president and complain is very serious. It is a scandal that will not go away overnight and that will keep tarnishing transatlantic relations for quite some time.”
Washington is gearing up for yet more cringing revelations with reports in a British newspaper suggesting that the US had access to the phones of some 35 world leaders.
Euronews correspondent in Washington Stefan Grobe says: “In a city that is obsessed with national security and the fear of terror attacks, everything seems to be tolerated, even among friends. The problem is that this sort of intelligence operation could severely damage the trust between the United States and Germany – and France, and Brazil, and Mexico and possibly others.”