The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

NSA spy scandal escalates from domestic dispute to international issue

“The best spies no longer look like James Bond,” said Lucas Kempton ‘03, a social media advisor for Lincoln Financial Group. “Now they look more like Bill Gates and think like Steve Jobs.”

In recent days, the National Security Agency’s spying scandal has grown from a fairly lackluster, run-of-the-mill government scandal to a possibly unprecedented breach of power. The question now becomes: who is to blame?

On Oct. 25, The New York Times reported that the Spanish government added its voice to a chorus of nations, including Brazil, France, Germany and Mexico, seeking clarification by the U.S. over reports that the NSA had spied on them.

The loudest voice railing against U.S. intelligence agencies is that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is reported to have been wiretapped for the last 12 years.

According to the Associated Press, Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said that the chancellor made clear to Obama in a phone call that “she views such practices, if the indications are confirmed … as completely unacceptable.”

Now an international affair, rebuke of the NSA’s invasive tactics has caused the U.S. government’s legislative and executive branches to attempt to distance themselves from the NSA.

For example, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, continued support for the NSA after former contractor Edward Snowden exposed details of mass surveillance programs through WikiLeaks.

But after months of supporting the agency, Feinstein and members of Congress have sharply changed their tone to one of opposition to the NSA’s tactics.

On Oct. 28, Feinstein said that the Senate Intelligence Committee was not satisfactorily informed of the NSA’s spying on allied leaders and heads of state. She also told reporters on Capitol Hill that “a total review of all intelligence programs” was in order.

While investigations are underway, many, including former CIA member and Assistant Professor of Political Science Robert Duncan shift the blame to Congress.

“Members of the two intelligence oversight committees are fully briefed on these activities,” said Duncan. “In my opinion (they) are simply covering their butts.”

“Operations and agencies are functions of policy-makers,” former Secretary of Defense and Director of the CIA Robert Gates told The Guilfordian. “The policy-makers are the consumers of the data, and the NSA is their tool.

“So when the camera points to (policy-makers), it’s like a full moon on a werewolf.”

Although blame is yet to be officially assigned, revelations of the NSA’s recent data-farming may be more of a threat to the Obama administration’s reputation than to that of the NSA personnel’s.

In the words of Gates, “The question is not whether we have the capability to gather information. We must be more concerned with addressing whether it is wise to enact these policies.”

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