Does Listening to Angela Merkel’s Phone Calls Make America Safer?

Ambassadors Perspectives

Jim Rosapepe (Ambassador to Romania, 1998-2001)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Rosapepe’s op-ed in Foreign Policy.

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When I was U.S. ambassador to Romania in the late 1990s and early 2000s, my embassy colleagues and I assumed (or maybe flattered ourselves) that we were bugged by foreign spy agencies. We gathered that what we said behind closed doors — that we wanted Romania well prepared to join NATO and the EU, Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic to stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, Bucharest to clean up its broken banks — would be shocking: Because we were saying the same things in private which we said repeatedly in public.

That joke came to mind last week as I talked with National Security Agency (NSA) Director Gen. Keith Alexander when he met with the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs. I asked him to explain the national security rationale for the NSA tapping the phones…

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