Tags: NSA | Sacirbey | spy | US

Ex-Bosnian Ambassador: Spying Leaks May Undermine US Business Abroad

Wednesday, 30 Oct 2013 12:32 PM

By Michael Kling

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Revelations about U.S spying activities might undermine U.S. business abroad, warns a former Bosnian diplomat.

Foreign leaders have expressed outrage over reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) collected millions of phone records of European citizens.

The leaders aren't just posturing for domestic audiences, Muhamed Sacirbey, a former Bosnia and Herzegovina ambassador to the United Nations and Bosnia's foreign minister, writes in an article for The Huffington Post.

Editor’s Note:
Obama’s Budget Takes Aim at Retired Americans

"Citizens and thought leaders in those states are demanding that strings be cut to U.S.-based computer servers, media and technology firms as well as a revamp with the U.S. government."

To rein in the surveillance, some foreign leaders are saying American companies like Google and Facebook should locate their servers outside the United States and within their own borders.

That may only be the beginning of the backlash, he warns. For instance, the scandal may delay trade negotiations between the United States and the European Union.

On a deeper level, the scandal and Washington's focus on hunting down Eric Snowden, the former NSA employee who leaked U.S. surveillance activities, have been damaging to the United States, Sacirbey notes, adding that they've been "hurting the U.S. on a diplomatic level and undermining our standing as the beacon of a free society and free enterprise."

"Possibly American leaders and citizens have taken for granted America's standing as the most free society," Sacirbey remarks.

The NSA surveillance program may ironically be undercutting its original rationale of fighting terrorism in the first place, he cautions.

Even allies have spied on each other, but the NSA effort has been unprecedented in scope and intrusion. American businesses, knowingly or not, have been drawn into the surveillance, and some have tried to distance themselves from the program, Sacirbey explains.

"Nonetheless, it appears that the damage is already inflicted and probably made worse by Washington's focus on punishing the leaker (Edward Snowden) and the reporting media, (The Guardian) rather than address the potential consequences of snoops gone wild!"

In testimony to Congress, NSA Director Keith Alexander denied reports that the agency had collected millions of European citizens' phone records, according to The Washington Post. Instead, he contends, NATO allies gathered records and shared them with the United States.

European newspapers that reported the NSA had collected millions of French and Spanish phone records, "did not understand what they were looking at," he said, The Post reports.

Editor’s Note: Obama’s Budget Takes Aim at Retired Americans

Related Stories:

Journalist Greenwald: NSA Spying Is Not About Terrorism

Report: European Spy Agencies Gave Phone Records to NSA

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