The French President did protest too much, according to Le Monde’s article title, “Révélations sur le Big Brother français”. Ouch.
In case you missed this over the holiday news dump, the New York Times closed a July 4th article revealing massive French spying with the reminder that the French had been warned not to sound too outraged over American spying, “American officials had privately warned French officials to be careful about speaking with too much outrage about American espionage given that major European countries like France spy, too, and not just on their enemies.”
All of that huffing and puffing by French President François Hollande over the recent alleged “revelations” regarding US spying looks a bit ridiculous now, after daily French newspaper Le Monde revealed that France has their own very large program of data collection. The French program includes nearly all data transmissions (phone calls, emails, social media, etc.) and is done on the French public in France and abroad, on all data that comes “in and out of France”.
Last week in full blown outrage, Hollande grandstanded to reporters that talks on the trade pact “should be delayed at least until questions over the spying issue were resolved and confidence restored.”
Yet, France does it but without clear legal authority, “Le Monde reported that the General Directorate for External Security does the same kind of data collection as the American National Security Agency and the British GCHQ, but does so without clear legal authority.”
It is “a-legal”, “The system is run with ‘complete discretion, at the margins of legality and outside all serious control,’ the newspaper said, describing it as ‘a-legal.'” Your Facebook isn’t private from the spying French either! “(T)he French also record data from large American networks like Google and Facebook, the newspaper said.”
Le Monde claimed it was illegal according to Tech2’s translation, “It said the DGSE intercepted signals from computers and telephones in France, and between France and other countries, although not the content of phone calls, to create a map of “who is talking to whom”. It said the activity was illegal.” However, the French government disagrees with Le Monde’s classification of their spying. Some problems really are universal, eh, President Hollande?
Tech2 broadened the issue out by closing with the observation that this spying program shares information with many intelligence services and mimics Britain’s spying program, “France’s seven other intelligence services, including domestic secret services and customs and money-laundering watchdogs, have access to the data and can tap into it freely as a means to spot people whose communications seem suspicious, whom they can then track with more intrusive techniques such as phone-tapping, Le Monde wrote. The Guardian newspaper reported last month that Britain had a similar spying programme on international phone and Internet traffic and was sharing vast quantities of personal information with the American NSA.”
Clearly this is not just an American problem, nor is it going to be solved by pretending it’s brand new and we are all incredulous. Are we not the same people who allowed Bush to fear monger us into not leaving this country so he could keep us safe after 9-11? Did we not cower down in fear, refusing to stand up for an American band’s right to say they didn’t like President Bush — oh, but national security!
It’s easy to be paranoid when your own (misguided, illogical, or accurate) hatred of the current president makes you feel like a target, but the truth is that you are just not that interesting unless you are doing something the government considers to be criminal. Debating the finer points of what is considered criminal activity by our government is actually much more interesting than following the latest devotee down the Libertarian rabbit hole of hating all government (ironically often coming from someone who used to believe in government too much — so you see how falling for the latest scam is sort of what they do). If you hate something so much that you think it should not exist, how are you going to be a real part of changing it?
So once again we have a meet cute moment between reality and the fictional world where naïve, wide-eyed idealists fall for the timely, cynical outrage of certain public officials.
The Times noted wryly, “Le Monde’s report, which French officials would not comment on publicly, appeared to make some of the French outrage about the revelations of Edward J. Snowden, a former N.S.A. contractor, about the American data-collection program appear somewhat hollow.”
It was just days ago that our allies were all outraged. How the very cynical French people ever fell for this is beyond me.
The people should always fight back, even against a known enemy that’s so entrenched as to be a hopeless cause. By fighting back we push for transparency and take a small bite out of the absolute power that government as an entity seeks. But it’s helpful if the people aren’t blinded by misguided ideas about how things really are when they do so, because that’s how good people get used by cynical people with an agenda.
The faux outrage of President Hollande rings a familiar bell. Listen to it again, only this time with the knowledge that he is full of it. No one with any first hand knowledge of government is surprised by these “revelations”. If they tell you they are, you might wish to consider what sort of agenda they have.
Image: VOA, ” FILE – An employee checks a copy of the freshly-printed French daily evening newspaper Le Monde which announces the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama, Paris, November 7, 2012.”