How the NSA Got the US and UK Back Together

How the NSA Got the US and UK Back Together

Printer-friendly version
a a
Type Size: Small

The majority of America’s European Allies continued to slam the United States for an NSA surveillance program that targeted leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But one ally that had drifted away from the United States in recent years has stood firm by Washington’s side.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has served as a kind of attack dog for the United States and the NSA. Last week at a meeting of European leaders in Brussels, a parade of European leaders took to the microphone to condemn the United States. Only Cameron stood in defense of Washington.

He said that the leaks make it “a lot more difficult to keep our countries and our people safe" and dismissed people that had “some la di da, airy fairy view about what this [spying] means.”

Cameron continued his assault on the leaks that led to the NSA revelations this week, hinting at legal action against the Guardian newspaper that has been the conduit of the majority of Edward Snowden’s documents.

"We live in a free country so newspapers are free to publish what they want," Cameron said Monday at the House of Commons. But the NSA details published by the Guardian make "this country less safe," he said.

"If they don't demonstrate some social responsibility it would be very difficult for government to stand back and not to act," he said. 

Compared to mainland Europe, the British public's response to the NSA leaks has been muted. The UK has long lived in a society that is constantly monitored by closed circuit cameras; surveillance is part of their daily routine.

Cameron's comments also come as the "special relationship" between Washington and London is fading. The UK's Parliament refused to authorize action against Syria, leaving the United States to drum up support on its own. The lingering war in Afghanistan has also tried ties between the U.S. and UK.

For a long time, President Obama was a man alone in the NSA scandal. Now, Cameron has chosen to stand by his man, making the special relationship between Washington and London just a bit more special.  

An editor-at-large for The Fiscal Times, David Francis has reported from all over the world on issues that range from defense to border security to transatlantic relations.