European officials are even more shocked and outraged today than they were yesterday at the revelations in Der Spiegel that the US government has been spying on the EU’s offices in Washington and New York. “These are disturbing news if proven true. They demand full clarification,” the EU said in a terse statement today. French president François Hollande said that the revelations might threaten a big round of trade talks scheduled for next week in Washington. “We aren’t in the Cold War anymore,” said Steffen Seibert, chief spokesman for German chancellor Angela Merkel, at a news conference in Berlin.
But while America’s European allies may be shocked, they can’t be surprised. Anyone familiar with the spy-versus-spy games in global diplomatic hubs knows that everyone has been spying on each other for decades.
Some offices at the UN are probably being bugged by more than a dozen foreign governments, according to a former head of FBI counter-intelligence. He says governments are spying on each other so much in Washington and at the UN that it’s surprising their spooks and technicians don’t bump into each other more. At any given time, the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division is investigating dozens of potential breaches of security.