As the more credulous in the Tory Party and the Fourth Estate continue to try and paint the deeply subversive Guardian as a nest of traitors, and continue to call for the arrest and incarceration of all who work within its premises, the realisation is starting to dawn elsewhere in the world that it might be A Good Thing to get a handle on the activities of the US National Security Agency (NSA).
And nowhere is this felt more keenly than in Germany, where Der Spiegel had prompted the security services there to investigate suggestions that the US had hacked the mobile phone of Chancellor Merkel. The investigation “produced plausible information that Merkel's mobile was targeted by the US eavesdropping agency”. How serious was this?
Very serious: “The German chancellor found the evidence substantial enough to call the White House and demand clarification”. This comes hard on the heels of the Brazilians taking exception to the NSA snooping on them, and the French President expressing concern about the number of citizens of the Fifth Republic whose phone calls are being recorded Stateside.
Today, matters escalated: whatever Barack Obama, or whichever of his staff responded to Frau Merkel, said to her yesterday did not placate the German leader. This morning, the US ambassador was summoned by foreign minister Guido Westerwelle to receive one of those upfront 24 carat bollockings that are reserved for occasions when the country represented has incurred serious displeasure.
Now, while some pundits in the UK are looking at the row and dismissing it with a brief “meh”, that isn’t how it’s playing in Germany, and other mainland EU countries, with many papers effectively telling Merkel “We told you so”, as she had previously played down the NSA revelations. The hacking news will push the Edward Snowden story back up the agenda.
It gets worse: as the BBC has reported, “The European Parliament voted to suspend its Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) agreement with the US, in response to the alleged tapping of EU citizens' bank data held by the Belgian company SWIFT”. And still the level of debate at Westminster is typified by Tory MP Julian Smith accusing the Guardian of identifying security staff, which it has not.
What has happened to the German Chancellor is exactly the kind of practice that the Snowden revelations, and the Guardian campaign, pointed up. But instead of having an informed debate, and asking whether all this snooping is A Good Thing, we have stupid MPs suggesting that we should just trust the NSA, and GCHQ, and that anyone shining a light on the whole murky business is a traitor.
In Germany the politicians are waking up. Perhaps those in the UK will soon follow.