The Economist says that following revelations about the NSA spying on America’s so-called allies, the “noun ‘Der Shitstorm’ made a timely entrance to the official German lexicon this week.”
As the Shitstorm mounts, Germany is sending a delegation to Washington (some think it should be the other way round). Politicians are struggling to explain what they knew and when they knew it. Federal prosecutors are opening inquiries. Sigmar Gabriel, an opposition leader, says they should interview Mr Snowden and if necessary offer him “witness protection” in Germany. The head of the domestic security agency says he knew nothing of the NSA’s schemes, but his service may have benefited from the results.
The fear in Europe is that, once so many data are in American hands, who is to say that they will not be misunderstood, leaked or misused? The information may help catch terrorists and gangsters today, but become part of American power politics (or commercial advantage) tomorrow. European policymakers took a lot of persuading before they agreed to share data on financial transactions and airline passenger lists with America. Now European Parliament members are threatening to suspend the deals. Another potential casualty is a proposed transatlantic free-trade deal, on which talks are due to start on July 8th (see article). France (never enthusiastic) and left-wing politicians in other countries want them halted, pending full clarification of the espionage programmes.