Monday, October 28, 2013

Snowden is just the gift that keeps on giving...

Angela Merkel is all finger-wavy over finding out that the U.S. government has been listening in on her phone conversations as though she were Russian or something:
The German leader said she told Obama last week that eavesdropping among friends "is never acceptable." 
...apparently tone-deaf to the fact that it was British eavesdropping on American transatlantic diplomatic cables that resulted in the interception of a telegram from a certain Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmerman.

No, you can look it up: The Brits had cut the Jerries' transoceanic telegraph cables, but we let the Boche use ours so that they could communicate with their ambassador in Washington regarding President Wilson's* peace proposals. We must have looked about as naive as Angela does when we found out they'd also been using our lines to transmit Texas real estate offers to President Carranza.

Anyhow, enough with the history lesson... Back here in the 21st Century, there are two ways the president could have dealt with the chancellor's chiding accusation: Brazen it out with a "tough noogies, this is the NFL" response or admit it and apologize and promise never to do it again. Faced with that pair of alternatives, Obama predictably picked choice number three and ordered waffles with a side of prevarication. Essentially, Obama's response to Merkel's accusations was to claim that yes, he'd stopped beating his wife.

Meanwhile, Tsar Vladimir I's court just laughs and laughs.

*And isn't Barry turning into a splendid 21st analogue of The Odious Wilson? A fact that must be making the bigoted old elitist technocrat spin in his grave...


Anonymous said...

Tsar Vladimir?

Time for an epic battle battle:

Shootin' Buddy

Anonymous said...

I suspect Chancellor Merkel is far more sensitive to things like being spied upon because of growing up in East Germany. Which someone should have thought about when the damage control team first got wind of the possible leak and leak of the leak.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if Merkel called on her monitored phone to BHO to complain about him monitoring her phone.


Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

She sounds like Henry Stimson when he found out about the Black Chamber: "Gentlemen do not read each other's mail."

The hell they don't, if they want to know what the other gentleman is up to.

My American Diplomatic History prof would have flunked both Obama and Merkel.

Firehand said...

Dammit, Fuzzy beat me to it.

As I recall, that lasted until he was shown some of the intercepts; then he decided a gentleman can make some exceptions.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...


At Merkel's level, espionage should be expected, not come as a surprise.

That it does suggests that either she is being disingenuous, or she is as incompetent as Obama.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...


To the contrary, if I recall correctly (and I did a thesis-like paper on this in college, but that was 25 years ago), Stimson's distaste for telegraphic espionage lasted until WWII, when he found nothing wrong with the decoding and reading of German and Japanese diplomatic cables by the Signal Corps and ONI. Of course he was not Secretary of State then, he was Secretary of War, and that may have changed his attitude a bit.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Interesting book, btw: America's Black Chamber by Herbert O. Yardley, more or less the interwar period's Edward Snowden.

Anonymous said...


Well. yeah, it's the NSA - that's their job - bugging other people.

The shock is
A. When bugging your erstwhile allies you should be VERY discreet
B. When found out these things are usually with a diplomatic nasty-gram

That both these things have failed suggests more is churning than we'd think.

Inthe case of A. my response is REALLY? THe NSA couldn't be assed false-flagging their intercepts and keeping their house in order? Heads should roll.

The damage this scandal has done is huge and bugging allies is the least of it.

B. The White house response was USELESS. And it's shocking enough the Merkel had to make he displeasure public to maintain credibility to her electorate. Also, her counter intelligence group should be spanked.

Kristophr said...

I think the Zimmerman telegraphs were faked by the Brits ...

But yea, you spy on your allies just as hard as your enemies, if you are competent.

Snowden is just one of those damned rare black swans. Instead of defecting to an enemy, he is trying to blow the whistle on everything, which is why Putin tried to trade him asylum for a promise to just STFU and become an asset.

And when that failed, assigned Anna Chapman to try to grab his leash ...

Mike_C said...

I don't see why Chancellor Dr. Merkel is so upset. After all, we're pretty much treating her as if she's an American.


either she is being disingenuous, or she is as incompetent as Obama
I'm going with the first possibility. The public furor ostensibly over being spied upon is a dope-slap upside the head meaning "Get your house in order, you twit!" Of course we're all spying on each other at top levels, the point is to not get caught at at. If we can't keep a lid on this kind of stuff how can we be trusted with actually important information?

Chas S. Clifton said...

Yes, he is Wilson come again to make the world safe for . . . something.

Coincidentally, I dreamt last night that I was discussing some new fighter plane design with an aeronautical engineer. (I am not one of those!) It would be super light, super fast, super stealthy, etc.

Standing silently nearby as we talked was Vladmir Putin!

"Holy smokes!" I thought upon waking. "The NSA may listen to Angela Merkel, but the Russians are listening to our dreams."

RandyGC said...

Assuming she isn't posturing (I'm Shocked! Shocked....etc), Angela needs to put on her big girl pants and grow the F up.

Countries don't have friends, they have allies with sometimes similar interests.

The 2 groups she should be hammering are

1. Her COMSEC folks for not securing her communications sufficiently

2. Her SIGINT folks for not being able to read Barry's mail. And fire them if they aren't even trying.

Scott J said...

Not on topic but Chas mentioned strange dreams and Tam likes strange dreams.

So I'm at my range but I'm now somehow employed there so I get to be there full time and use the range when the place isn't busy.

There's this odd setup where there's a big, concrete wall with a mostly glass storefront like you'd see at a place like AutoZone and when you walk through the door my range's current setup of outdoor square action pistol bays is on the other side.

Things are slow so I'm spending time running various handloads across a chronograph.

A friend from my current employer (no longer worked there in the dream) shows up with some friend of his I don't recognize who he introduces as a current Auburn football player.

Before they go to shoot they ask me to explain what I'm doing and why.

I'm in the process of doing that when Gabby Franco of "Top Shot" fame walks in and also wants to know about my testing as well as the whole reloading process.

My alarm wakes me up as I'm conducting an impromptu metallic reloading class to her, the friend and the football player and a few other random folks who have wandered up.

I rarely remember my dreams but when I do they are quite odd.

Ian Argent said...

So if PResdient Obama is Woody Wilson reborn, does that mean a)that we're still in for the Return of FDR, and b) someone's going to write a series of increasingly bizarre stories featuring an immortal protagonist originally named Barack Obama Jones?

WV: roksette - The South Korean answer to Radio City Music Hall's chorus line?

Tirno said...

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said... "Of course he was not Secretary of State then, he was Secretary of War, and that may have changed his attitude a bit."

Well, yeah. A Secretary of State is ultimately not responsible. No matter what it is, if they screw up enough, totally blunder it beyond repair... then it's the Secretary of War's problem.

When the Secretary of War has problems, terrible problems, existential problems... There's no one to turn to. Oh, he can ask the Secretary of State to offer a surrender, but you know the ex-Secretrary of War will be swinging from a gallows afterwards, while the ex-Secretary of State has a lovely countryside villa where he can spend his retirement writing magnificent treatises about how the valiant Foe vanquished the sullen curs that were on his side, and how gracious in victory the Foe is.

Matt said...

Odd thing about spying. Spies are going to spy, they can't not do it. They will do it whether authorized or not and against anyone but themselves. They just cant and wont stop themselves.

I have friends that use my house as their mail drop, so I can access their mail easily. I have never been tempted to read their mail to find out what they are doing. I simply ask them if I am wondering. Most times I don't ask because I believe in their right to privacy.

Boat Guy said...

I'm still a bit "conflicted" re Snowden, so I'll waive my comments there and move to various heads of state current and historical.
I'm with Randy GC;
Allies spy on each other as a matter of routine just as one does with adversaries; it's what is done with the information that differs. Erstwhile allies can become adversaries - "Uncle Joe" anyone?

KM said...

After all, we're pretty much treating her as if she's an American

Small wonder she's pissed.

I think it's mostly CYA posturing for the cameras. Could be that Germans are as much 'low info' voters as most of the libtards here. Listen to a sound bite then look for another Hasselhoff rerun.

Windy Wilson said...

As I recall, a former Chancellor of Germany, Willy Brandt, had a right-hand man who turned out to be a Soviet Spy. Presumably GS9 should be more careful.

Has Israel commented on the NSA matter? To them we can say, "Jonathan Pollard."

Joe in PNG said...

Kristopher- if so, that really makes Zimmerman an idiot for owning up to them when asked

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Remember Germany in the 20th century, Angela? Yeah, that's why the US keeps tabs on you.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

And... Zimmerman? Is that why we entered WWI? Justice for Trayvon?

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

I'm sorry. Shouldna done that one.

Borepatch said...

The analysis that I've yet to see is that this is 100% tied to domestic surveillance. It's the off-the-hook spying on Americans in the USA that got Snowden to do that hoodoo that he did so publicly. Once you've gone and convinced people to let the secret cat out of the classified bag, then all sorts of cats are likely to be running around the place.

At the end of the day, government secrecy can't be divorced from government legitimacy.

Just how much this damages the Atlantic alliance remains to be seen, but it's hard to see that it won't be damaging at all. That's collateral damage from the War On Terror, and quite frankly the Intelligence Community and the Political Elite brought this on themselves.

Shocking, that.

But hey, it sure is good that we replaced "Cowboy Diplomacy" with "Smart Diplomacy", right? SWPLs won't have to apologize for being American when they're in Paris or Berlin ...

Buzz said...

Where do I sign up to get Anna Chapman to yank my leash?

Scott J said...

New Jovian, at least you tried. I've spent a small portion of my mental cycles all day trying to come up with a joke in that vein worthy of the quality of snark around here and have come up empty.

Robert said...

In the book "Spycatcher", one of the funnier parts is when the British MI department is informed by their state dept. that they will be working with the Canadians on a particular project, they replied with "Tell them they need to get a better encryption machine first."

Kristophr said...

Zimmerman did? Thanx for the correction, Joe.

I didn't know that.

Mike in KY said...

Tam, you have such a way of putting things.

It's poetry, really.

Firehand said...

Fuzzy, you may be right; been a long time since I read the stuff on it.

mikee said...

"This administration, like all others before it, will not comment on matters of classified intelligence publicly."

Any other answer, except before the appropriate House or Senate committee in executive session, indicates to me a complete lack of understanding of how to handle government secrets becoming known to the public.

Geodkyt said...

I suspect Merkel is largely sending a message to Obama--

"When you're playing in the big league, you can play around teh edges of teh rules. But one rule is inviolable: Don't get caught, dumbass. Frankly, you're out of your weight class, champ, so sit back and bark on command."