Coffee House

Obama: “There are European governments that we know spy on us”

20 January 2014

In an interview with The New Yorker, Barack Obama has hit back at European reaction to the Snowden revelations. He tells the magazine that “there are European governments that we know spy on us” and compares many of the European figures complaining about the allegations to the Vichy police officer in the film Casablanca. It’ll be fascinating to see wow those in the European Parliament who want to use this scandal to derail the talks on an EU-US free trade deal react to Obama essentially calling them out on this.

Obama does, however, concede that the allegation that the US spied on Angela Merkel’s mobile phone is serious. He concedes that if it happened it was “a breach of trust and I can’t argue with her being aggravated about that.”

One other striking thing about the interview is the reminder of how much US presidents can make from their memoirs. The New Yorker suggest that Obama himself will receive between $17 and $20 million for his and Michelle Obama around $12 million for hers.

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • NotYouNotSure

    “They did it, so therefore we did it” is an argument a child makes, it should not be one that drives foreign policy for a modern state.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    The French are very quiet.

    • Diogenes

      Although blatant and ongoing Gallic industrial espionage might not be seen by the bien pensant as on a par with half-inching the entire populations phone records.
      Clearly the bien pensant are wrong, but then aren’t they always?

  • Tom Tom

    Well it won’t be the British who are mere ciphers for US interests. I wonder who Obama will appoint as PM after the next election and which country will be attacked then ? With Malta selling residency in Britain and the NHS selling medical records to all and sundry, someone must be building reservations to keep a few of the indigenous island people for posterity

  • James Strong

    I’m very much in favour of the free market. If Wayne Rooney makes a lot of money because tens of thousands will pay to watch him then that’s fair enough. Although I wouldn’t pay myself I can understand why some might do so.
    I would happily pay £100 for a DVD compilation of David Gower’s Test Centuries; most other people wouldn’t.
    But I cannot understand why enough people would pay to read a memoir by Michelle Obama that would make it worth $12 million.
    She hasn’t done anything; she’s not in the meetings where difficult problems are discussed and decisions made, and she carries no responsibility.
    What can she tell us that is worth anything much at all?
    I guess the mugs who buy her book will be able to tell us in djue course.

    • Tom Tom

      It is a kickback from the publisher like when Murdoch paid Newt Gingrich. It is how you can pay a bribe as a book advance

  • James Strong

    There are plenty of things that we can all assume go on, that heads of government should avoid discussing in public.
    Espionage is one of them.

  • In2minds

    Obama, the sooner he’s gone the better.

  • London Calling

    I’ve got my eye on you……………..I bet you have…….who said anything about good old trust at the end of the day………like I’m not surprised in the least……:)

  • swatnan

    He’s right. I wouldn’t trust the Americams with a bargepole; they’re in it for themselves. Any respectable British Govt would be keeping tabs on them; and the Germans; and the French.

    • Makroon

      I believe “elements” of the British security services have already admitted to “keeping an eye on the yanks”, no doubt the French do the same. Germany is just feeling left-out (again) and using this as a pretext to blackmail Obama into giving them access to the Anglo-compact.

      • Tom Tom

        Hardly. It is more like German public opinion fed up of Merkel and Pofalla lying – there is a huge new NSA station being built in Wiesbaden and a complex in Bad Aibling. The US directs most of its spying against German COMPANIES for economic espionage…….Britain has little R&D to spy on

      • Tom Tom

        How do they “keep an eye on the Yanks” with GCHQ housing NSA staff and Menwith Hill staffed by Americans ? How do they get software without the NSA backdoor in Microsoft products ? How do they avoid the RSA cryptographic key that the NSA compromised ?

        The Government cannot even tell us if their PCs have Clipper Chips . Britain is porous to the US

Can't find your Web ID? Click here