We already know that Russia's assertion of power — with its new, nuclear-strength megabomb; in the Middle East; the energy trade; the Arctic; and international relations in general — has been clumped into the notion of a 'new' Cold War. China has also been accused of hacking US government computers, in addition to its vast economic growth, heightened interest in what's going on in the world, and military claims (e.g. military expansion, anti-satellite missile launch). Who knew the two could be working in concert against American interest, employing espionage as much as they can? Well they are, says US National Intelligence director Michael McConnell.
Russia and China are spying on US facilities at close to Cold War levels, the head of US intelligence has warned.
US agencies are battling traditional state foes as well as terror groups, Mr McConnell told a congressional hearing.
Mr McConnell was defending new legislation allowing the US government to eavesdrop on international phone calls and emails without a warrant.
"Foreign intelligence information concerning the plans, activities and intentions of foreign powers and their agents is critical to protect the nation and preserve our security," Mr McConnell told the House Judiciary Committee.
The Protect America Act allows the government to eavesdrop on foreign communications, even if the recipient is a person living in the US.
These powers are due to expire in January unless Congress extends them.
The White House wants them made permanent.
I agree that the maintenance of national intelligence is essential. But the fact that McConnell says the civil liberties-invading wiretapping program is essential to maintaining national security shows the priorities of America's national security services are mixed up. Never mind that the majority of cargo entering the US by sea isn't checked or scanned at all, of course that would be a superfluous and unnecessary security precaution [sarcasm]! They already have Eschelon and FISA; there is little need for additional spy powers, especially if they're complaining about other nations' spying and there are more constitutional, down to earth, and effective policies waiting to be implemented!
The White House has gone beyond using the omnipresent terrorist enemy to get what it wants, it's invoking Cold War-era scare tactics now! 'They're spying on us, so we better spy on ourselves, and them, and everyone. No need for a warrant either...'
So not only are the terrorists of the world out to get America, but in addition to its usual enemies, two world powers are snooping like crazy. Some excuse for the even more scary spy program, the NSA wiretapping scheme legalized (sadly) by Congress earlier this year by a piece of legislation with the propaganda-esque name of the Protect America Act. (It better protect something, because it sure doesn't protect the Constitution!)
It's as if the Bush administration wants another excuse, namely a national security threat or new 'war', to expand its already over-extended powers.