Churning through countless domestic phone calls is one thing – that has very real constitutional implications. It may be a similar thing with doing that in Spain or other countries in Europe and the Middle East, though the constitutional questions are very different. But please, please spare me the shock and surprise that the US spies on foreign leaders, even allies, even close allies. These countries spy on our leaders too. The only real exception is within the special club of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand where, for a variety of historical reasons, a pretty different set of rules and integration apply.
Now, as a domestic political matter, I totally understand why these European leaders are freaked. It’s a big problem for them domestically when it’s laid out so baldly in front of everyone. Beyond national security issues, this will likely take a real economic toll on the US. So I’m not surprised at the reaction. I don’t begrudge it. But the tenor of the reporting in the US is frankly bizarre, either totally tendentious or wildly naive.
What I do think is illustrative about this is that the reaction would have been very different in the 1970s or even 1990s. The US simply no longer has the global dominance in economic or political terms that it did in the past. And the nature of the reactions is a good barometer of that change. But again, please. This is what signals intelligence agencies are designed to do.