U.S. Senator Chis Murphy plans to travel to Europe on an apology tour, according to a brief notice in a Hartford paper.
“Over the last several months,” Mr. Murphy wrote in a media release, “our European allies have raised legitimate concerns about the nature and scope of U.S. intelligence programs, and I agree that at times, U.S. surveillance programs have not been conducted with the appropriate restraint and security, both in the United States and in Europe. While foreign citizens do not enjoy the same constitutional protections as American citizens, the United States should have processes in place that assure non-U.S. citizens that all possible steps are being taken to limit the scope of our surveillance programs so that we are targeting only the information absolutely necessary to find and catch individuals who pose a security threat to the United States and our allies. My goal for these meetings will be to help cement the overall relationship between the United States and Europe and discuss surveillance programs in our countries.”
The brief news account does not mention where Mr. Murphy plans to travel in Europe -- Germany, France, Spain, England or the Vatican.
Mrs. Pesci and I just returned from France, whose socialist president, more unpopular in his own county than president Barack Obama is at home, still feels the whip and lash of an out of control American spy agency.
Germany’s head of state, Chancellor Angela Merkel, heatedly objected when she discovered -- thanks to Edward Snowden and his patron, Russian President Vladimir Putin -- that the Americans had tapped her private cell phone.
That item made the news four days running before we boarded the plane for home.
Presidential flack catcher Jay Carney’s various attempts to explain away the obvious have made him a laughing stock throughout Europe. In a first response to European unease, Mr. Carney assured Ms. Merkel on behalf of the president that the United States is not nor would in the future tap the cell phone line of Germany’s head of state. It took news broadcasters about one hour to note that Mr. Carney had agilely danced around the question: Has the Obama administration in the past tapped the private phone lines of Ms. Merkel? It has been reported that Ms. Merkle’s phone lines have been under siege for more than ten years.
European grown-ups understand that nations do spy on each other – but tapping the private line of a European head of state suggested to them that a time honored line had been crossed.
Just before boarding an airline for home, we found that the Obama administration had tapped the Pope’s phone lines. Someone in the airport joked that the Obama administration was perhaps seeking how best to obtain an indulgence for its many secular sins.
The second most prominent story during the weeks we were in Europe concerned the spectacular failure of the launch of Obamacare.
A stevedore who tied our boat to a pier in Arles joked, “Here come the Americans. They are all FBI agents.” He was joking of course, but clearly there was a scorpion’s sting in his remark.
If Mr. Murphy does alight in Germany during his apology tour, it is possible he may bump into Mr. Snowden who, according to a recent news report, has expressed interest in testifying in a German inquiry into U.S. spying.
The Washington Post has reported that Snowden’s appearance in Germany would be contingent upon a pledge that Germany would not shuttle the accused felon to the United States. The possible testimony of Mr. Snowden in Germany, the paper reported, “puts Merkel into a tight spot. German voters are furious with the U.S. government over the spying revelations, and allowing Snowden into Germany would be a popular move. But the Obama administration has made clear that it is willing to go to great lengths to retrieve Snowden — including, said Bolivian President Evo Morales this summer, forcing the leader of a sovereign country to make an emergency landing because of suspicions that Snowden was on his jet.”
“If there were the possibility to hear Snowden as a witness,” said Thomas Oppermann, a Social Democrat who heads Germany’s parliamentary intelligence oversight committee, “without bringing him into danger and completely ruining the German-USA relationship, we should use it.”
Unless Mr. Murphy is willing to travel through Europe on his knees, begging pardon of every European he meets, he will not be warmly received. It may be more useful for him to stay home, iron the wrinkles out of Obamacare, work to construct a passable budget – Mr. Obama’s first since achieving office -- and apologize to the Europeans from afar, where he will be safe from the taunts of stevedores and European schoolchildren.