In the NYTimes today, Anger Growing Among Allies Over U. S. Surveillance:
The damage to core American relationships continues to mount. Last month, President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil postponed a state visit to the United States after Brazilian news media reports — fed by material from Mr. Greenwald — that the N.S.A. had intercepted messages from Ms. Rousseff, her aides and the state oil company, Petrobras. Recently, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, which has said it has a stack of Snowden documents, suggested that United States intelligence had gained access to communications to and from President Felipe Calderón of Mexico while he was still in office.Secretary of State John Kerry had barely landed in France on Monday when the newspaper Le Monde disclosed what it said was the mass surveillance of French citizens, as well as spying on French diplomats. Furious, the French summoned the United States ambassador, Charles H. Rivkin, and Mr. Hollande expressed “extreme reprobation” for the reported collection of 70 million digital communications from Dec. 10, 2012, to Jan. 8, 2013.
Over at Crooked Timber Henry Farrell has kicked off an interesting discussion of The Politics of Hypocrisy:
What is interesting is not whether France (or Mexico, or Brazil, or Germany) is being hypocritical in pretending to be shocked at what the US is doing. It’s whether their response (hypocritical as it may be) has real political consequences. And it surely does. The decision of Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff to cancel a state visit to the US (and start to disentangle Brazil from what had been an increasingly cooperative relationship) is one example. I have few doubts that if Rousseff had had the option, she would have preferred to have ignored US spying, and gone on with the visit and the burgeoning relationship. But she didn’t have that choice (or at least, it would have been domestically very costly). Similarly, the EU Parliament’s decision on Monday to reinstate rules restricting personal data transfer to the US are a direct response to the Snowden revelations. It is going to be tough for European governments to push back on these rules, even though they would probably like to, because they’re going to face a public outcry if they do. France can’t summon the US ambassador to ream him out about NSA surveillance one day, and effectively accede to NSA surveillance the next. However hypocritical this behavior is, it has consequences.
YES. Here's my contribution to that discussion:
You know, there's a sense in which "WE" all knew that this was going on. But it's one thing to strongly suspect – in a sophisticated, knowing way – that this is going on. It's something else to put it out there.You know that old story about the Emperor's new clothes? Imagine the moment when the Emperor struts out on the street, showing off his new finery, which is completely imaginary. Everyone can see he's naked, but no one says anything until the boy blurts it out. Well, these days that little boy's busy telling Truth to Power, and Power doesn't like it, not one bit.Game theorists talk about this. It's called mutual information. Before the little boy blurted out the truth, the information was shared. Everyone knew the Emperor was naked, but they didn't know that they knew. Once the boy said "he's naked" everyone knew that everyone else knew. Shared information had become mutual information.Steve Pinker talks about this in his book, The Stuff of Thought.