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Foreign Policy calls reciprocal eavesdropping `time-honored tradition’

Foreign Policy calls reciprocal eavesdropping `time-honored tradition’

Posted November. 12, 2013 06:55,   


Eavesdropping of foreign leaders’ communications by the U.S. National Security Agency makes headlines day after day but a diplomacy magazine claims that reciprocal wiretapping between allies is a time-honored tradition.

In its latest issue, U.S.-based Foreign Policy said such activities date back to the 16th Century. King Philip II of Spain, a catholic believer, and the Pope agreed to dispatch Spain’s Armada to invade Britain, which supported the protestant church. The two leaders continued spying activities against each other, however. As a result, the two sides reportedly remained suspicious against each other, worrying that the other party’s might change his mind to the last minute.

In many cases, countries were caught during their spying activities targeting allies, only to spawn conflict. In 1987, Israel, a U.S. ally, bribed Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. Navy intelligence, and purchased sensitive security intelligence from him. After learning this, the U.S. sentenced Pollard to life in prison despite appeals by ranking Israeli officials to protect him.

Foreign Policy said allies stage such an intense intelligence war in order to protect their national interest and to prevent betrayal and double deals (with a hostile state) by the other party. This is because no matter how close an ally is, it could have a double spy agent who could threaten national interest.

Foreign Policy says the U.S.-U.K. relations came even closer after World War II, but there was an incident in which U.S. military intelligence was handed over to Moscow through double spy agents affiliated with the U.K. Embassy in Washington at that time. The magazine said the term of friendship is merely "misnomer" on the international stage.