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Stooping low to snoop

Updated: 2013-10-31 07:10
( China Daily)

Four months ago, Edward Snowden offered the world a new and different view of the United States, and the US' surveillance on its European allies has highlighted the hypocrisy of this self-proclaimed human rights warrior, says an article by Xinhua News Agency. Excerpts:

According to the disclosures of the former US data analyst, by encouraging officials at the White House, State Department and Department of Defense to "share" their contacts, the US National Security Agency has allegedly been monitoring the cellphones of as many as 35 world leaders, which is not a separate operation but just routine work. US intelligence may have been snooping on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's calls for 10 years, which has understandably outraged the US' European allies.

Stooping low to snoop

US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper attends a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday. [Photo / Agencies]

From ordinary citizens in the US and other countries, to business leaders, government officials and even the leaders of its allies, everyone seems to have been swept up in the spy nets of the NSA-led US' intelligence agencies. As a US State Department spokesman admitted the other day, the US undertakes thorough and full-scale worldwide intelligence collection. He claimed that the US does so to protect the security of its territory, its people and its allies, and intelligence agencies of other countries are doing the same thing.

However, he has avoided the question of whether it is necessary for the US to adopt such measures to guarantee its security. And it has prompted many to ask: How has the US been reduced to a nearly paranoid eavesdropper from a former moral preacher of human rights and freedoms.

The answer, of course, may be traced back to Sept 11, 2001 and the most serious terrorist attacks the US has suffered. The attacks heavily mauled its confidence and broke its sense of security. As a result, the two post-9/11 anti-terror bills have further expanded the permission for US intelligence agencies to search and collect personal information both at home and abroad.

Although the economic situation has been quite grim in recent years, the amount the US intelligence agencies spend on intelligence collection and information monitoring has remained high. The budget in the fiscal year of 2013 for monitoring programs alone was $10.8 billion.

For a long time, the US has advocated global Internet freedom on the one hand, while putting Internet users everywhere under surveillance on the other. This clearly shows how hypocritical it is on human rights. Time and time again, the US hits its debt ceiling, it is time for it to shoulder its responsibility to stabilize its economy and end the uncertainties by cutting its debt rather than wasting its taxpayers' money on unnecessary and immoral snooping.

The scandal of US intelligence agencies has been revealed to the public and demystified due to the leaks by Edward Snowden, which revealed the tip of the iceberg. But people around the world have actually had no idea of how big the iceberg is.

When walking along a bustling street of Paris or Berlin, or indeed anywhere, preparing to call your friends or family, you cannot help but wonder whether the NSA will be listening in. If the US is truly concerned about human rights, it should stop violating the rights of other people and countries first.

(China Daily 10/31/2013 page9)