Though all world powers spy, America’s scope and denials have elicited real outrage
Interference in world leaders’ communications is an astonishing presumption and quite damaging for international relations, but all countries are doing it, covering it up with a scenic outrage, investigative journalist Gavin MacFadyen told RT.
The US has the most capacity among world powers to spy on everyone it wants, and the recent revelation that the NSA spied on phones of 35 world leaders proves they are abusing this power on a very large scale, MacFadyen, director for the Centre of Investigative Journalism in London, said.
RT: Are you surprised so many world leaders are allegedly being monitored?
Gavin MacFadyen: No, I wasn’t. I was surprised that there were so few. I think the truth is that the Americans have the capacity - as other countries do, but particularly the United States - to spy on almost anybody they want to. It’s an abuse of power on a very large scale. But I think the difficulty here is that it’s very unlikely that Angela Merkel or Sarkozy or anybody else would speak about secret matters on an open, public telephone. That’s pretty unlikely. Usually there’s highly secure, encrypted phones available to them at a moment’s notice, and that’s normally how they would speak to each other.
However, the principle of interfering with other leaders is an astonishing presumption and damaging to relations. It’s also known, of course, here in Britain where I’m based, that it’s very common, much of this kind of thing. But to cover it up, there’s a kind of outrage. “Oh, this is a terrible thing.” Of course it is terrible on one level, but at the same time they all do it. So it’s not quite as awful as it appears, however that doesn’t make it any less worse for the Americans. I think they were caught out doing something they denied. They lied about it. And now we find out it’s much bigger than anybody thought.
RT: What about the fact that other US officials, people working in the White House and the Pentagon, were asked by the NSA to handover all those contact details. In effect, the whole of Washington is implicated here, isn’t it?
GM: I think that’s right. But most people - including a lot of journalists, I’m frightened to say - believe their job is to protect their country. However specious and stupid the argument is, that when they’re approached on a patriotic duty to inform the security services, most of them do. That’s the tragedy of it. The journalists and many in Washington would make no claim to independence. I’m told one of the leaders in one of the biggest journalism schools in the United States, yesterday or the day before, said he thought his primary job was to criticize people who had taken advantage of the American security system, e.g. Julian Assange and the Wikileaks people. He was very critical of them. And this is a man that’s supposed to be a champion of independence. It’s very disturbing.
RT: Let’s talk about Edward Snowden here. Where’s this going to end? It seems like every day there’s something big revealed from the vaults of information being channeled through the Guardian newspaper. Is the US bracing itself for more embarrassing revelations? What more could be in line for them?
GM: There’s quite a lot of information on countries we haven’t heard that much about yet. I think that could be very interesting. The Brazilian and South American case will be a powerful one. There’s a lot of information coming up regularly now about Brazil and Latin America, and the support of dictatorships and all the rest of it there. I think there’s a lot more of that kind of thing coming, parceled out in small reasonable bits, which enable them to verify and check the facts as they have them - this from the journalists involved, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, in Germany and Brazil.