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No substance to spy proposals

Updated: 2014-01-20 07:23
( China Daily)

President Barack Obama's long-awaited speech on overhauling the United States' controversial intelligence community had little substance, says a Xinhua News Agency commentary.

Few were heartened by the speech, half of which was dedicated to defending rather than reflecting on the country's surveillance programs.

Some are unhappy with the ambiguity and the lack of details in the speech itself; others doubt whether the president's words will be matched with actions. All in all, the changes proposed by Obama are too weak to remedy the damage of the US' spying, which spared almost nobody, not even its close allies.

On average, the National Security Agency gathers about 200 million text messages worldwide every day, but few of them are believed to have contributed to the stated aim of the spy programs, namely fighting terrorism.

Americans can hardly pride themselves on being the citizens of a country that proclaims itself to be the upholder of human rights after hearing their president call for an end to government control over phone data, which is just one part of the organization's huge spying scheme.

Globally, Washington, whose trustworthiness has been greatly dented by its relentless and indiscriminate siphoning of information, needs to show genuine sincerity rather than just promising not to bug the phones of the leaders of its close friends and allies overseas.

It is noteworthy that Obama did not list which countries fall under that category, making it unclear how the proposal would be carried out. No wonder Germany, whose chancellor is known to have been a victim of the US' snooping, wants to thoroughly study the wording of Obama's speech.

To rekindle its cooled relations with other countries, especially its allies, Washington will need to take concrete action.

The eye-popping spy programs have revealed that the US is deeply entrenched in paranoia. Given the status of the US as the world's sole superpower, this paranoia is dangerous and could result in catastrophe.

Instead of safeguarding its own national security in such a disgraceful manner and at such a great cost, the US should lead international efforts to build trust among countries and address the root causes of insecurity, so countries can together push for world peace and inclusiveness, as well as common development and prosperity.

(China Daily 01/20/2014 page8)