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Between You And Me

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on February 6, 2014 in News & Opinion |

If there is one thing we Americans are good at, it is getting up on our high horse, seeking the moral high ground, and pointing our fingers at other people, other nations for their actions. Thereby we often forget, and are reminded by revelations not long after, that we do exactly those things we accuse others of doing, and have been doing those things much longer.

I say ‘we’ although this is clearly a generalization, and I could count myself in amongst the mass. In reality, though, it is not ‘we’, it is only a few people, but it reflects on all Americans. The latest revelation, and finger-pointing comes after a private – or assumed to be private – telephone conversation was recorded and then publicized.

Viktoria Michaelis: Telephone Conversations

Photo Credit: Fr3d.orgCreative Commons

A high-ranking American official had the nerve, in this latest private conversation to be recorded, to say:

Fuck the EU

which, I guess, could be a personal observation, a personal standpoint, but for the fact that it has been revealed. Normally we could just look at this comment, shake our heads at its stupidity, and move on, were it not for the fact that it is the Americans, as we know, who are leaders in the field of listening in to conversations and using the information gathered for our own purposes.

Now that it has been revealed, certain parties are keen to put the blame for the revelation on someone – probably the Russian Secret Service – and claim that such things shouldn’t happen.

This much is true, it shouldn’t happen. Private conversation should remain private, no matter how obnoxious the contents may be, unless there is a good legal reason for publicity. However I have no sympathy for this official whatsoever, nor do I accept her apology as anything more than words without deeper meaning.

If it is fine for one party to listen into, evaluate and use the conversations of others, right up to ministerial or higher levels, then it must be fine for others to do the same. That’s the way it works. And I have no problems whatsoever when so-called private observations and comment from American politicians are revealed to the public, since that is precisely what they do to others themselves. If they wish to keep their own conversations and opinions private, fine, but then they must also respect the private conversations and opinions of others, simple as that.

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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3 Comments

  • Francois says:

    This was not really a private conversation in which private opinions were exchanged.
    Much worse: it was a very confidential debrief and action plan between an Assistant Secretary of State and a US Ambassador to one of the countries for which she is responsible. Said country currently being ripped apart by West and East. United States unhappy with the EU’s prudent course of action.
    In those circumstances, why was it even possible to intercept the conversation???

    • Intercept, well, not quite. The Americans believe that the Russians taped the conversation and sent it out. In theory, according to the laws of some States, since one side agreed to the taping, it is legal!

      • Francois says:

        I was mostly asking “what level of intelligence is displayed in having this conversation over a phone line?” Obviously, the call was encrypted. Obviously, both parties know that an encrypted call can be decrypted.

        Most of the attention this stunt received is driven by the use of the word “fuck”. I am a child of Watergate and read the transcripts of President Nixon’s secret tapes: [expletive deleted] is in every second sentence. I am not shocked or surprised that people in positions of responsibility use the same language as everyone else when they are not in the spotlight.

        What the phrase means is “Let us proceed without waiting for, or despite the disagreement of, the European Union”.

        That spies spy on spies is not intergalactic news and this comes as poetic justice for the arrogance of tapping into Chancellor Merkel’s mobile telephone and other incidents following Snowden’s disclosure of the extent of the NSA’s illegal activities.

        Legal or illegal takes a backseat to “whatever you can get away with” and I am not convinced that Russia is the only available suspect here, just the usual one.

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