For those readers at all interested in Angela Merkel’s dismay, or the reach of our homeland spy agencies, here are a few pertinent quotes from Paul Pillar, speaking on NPR’s Here and Now radio program on October 29.
According to his bio, Paul Pillar spent 28 years with the CIA before leaving as a senior intelligence officer. He now teaches at the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University in D.C., where he is a fellow. He was interviewed by Here and Now co-host Jeremy Hobson about the European reaction to revelations American spies have been listening in on the phone conversations of foreign (and friendly) heads of state.
“The only thing that makes all this a scandal is the revelation, the public leaks of it. If the leaks had not occurred, then this pretty much would have been business as usual, not just from our standpoint but from the point of view of the Europeans as well.”
When asked if the intelligence gathering was worth the risk of angering allies, Pillar replied:
“I think the question, Jeremy, we have to ask is, are we going to tailor our, in this case, intelligence programs according to the limits set by leakers? So whatever we may do to curtail the programs that we’re talking about now, we would in effect be giving Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden in this case a veto over U.S. activities, and I don’t think that’s the right way to run a national security program.”
“When we have flaps like this that occur, you know, something will change, and I expect we’ll get some sort of announcement that we’ll – that the Europeans can point to as a curtailment and as a change. But as time goes by, flaps blow over, and the permanent interests of ourselves and our allies reassert themselves.”