Dissembling, Deceit and Obfuscation: Merkel's Trust Deficit

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Angela Merkel and Barack Obama address the media in the Rose Garden at the White House. (Courtesy: Alex Wong)

By Ann-Marie de Veer
Saturday 10 May 2014

There is little doubt that Merkel's election to a third term in office was dependent, to some degree, in pandering to the electorate on the issue of German complicity in NSA mass surveillance. Her regimes response to the disclosures of malfeasance by the NSA and GCHQ, similar to the authoritarian administrations of the UK and US, have maintained a constant approach throughout where dissembling, deceit and obfuscation have become commonplace and continues to this day as the debacle unfolds.

It was shortly after the initial release of the information sourced by the whistleblower Snowden, when it all began:

Dieter Deiseroth: When foreign agencies infringe upon fundamental rights on German territory, the state cannot look away. Accepting the massive collection of private information would be a serious violation of the principle that every state has to defend such rights. (der Spiegel - 17 June 2013)
Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger: If media reports are correct, then it is reminiscent of methods used by enemies during the Cold War. It defies belief that our friends in the US see the Europeans as their enemies. There has to finally be an immediate and comprehensive explanation from the US as to whether media reports about completely unacceptable surveillance measures of the US in the EU are true or not. Comprehensive spying on Europeans by Americans cannot be allowed. (der Spiegel - 30 June 2013)"
Angela Merkel: The monitoring of friends -- this is unacceptable, it can't be tolerated. We're no longer in the Cold War. Our cooperation must be based on trust. This trust must be reestablished now. (der Spiegel - 1 July 2013)

Then, in defence of surveillance when her regime thought they could get away with it:

Angela Merkel: Preventing terrorist attacks is not possible "without the possibility of telecommunications monitoring," she told the paper. "The work of intelligence agencies in democratic states was always vital to the safety of citizens and will remain so in the future. For me, there is absolutely no comparison between the Stasi in East Germany and the work of intelligence services in democratic states,” she added, calling the programs “two totally different things. (Die Zeit - 10 July 2013)"

Only to pause for a while knowing that if more information were released they would be in a difficult position:

Angela Merkel: My government is applying appropriate pressure on the Obama administration. It is impossible to deliver an analysis of PRISM yet. The work is not complete. It is ongoing. (der Spiegel - 19 July 2013)"

Followed by Merkel's attempt to distance herself from the issue:

Angela Merkel: There must always be a balance between freedom and security. It isn't my job to delve into the details of PRISM. (der Spiegel - 29 July 2013)"

Then, as the German/US No-Spy Pact failed to materialise and further revelations continued to emerge about the nefarious activities of GCHQ and the NSA in other countries, Merkel thought she had got away with it.

That is, until it was reported that the NSA had monitored her mobile phone for the last ten years and she was left with little option but to make a statement:

Angela Merkel via her spokesman Steffen Seibert: The Chancellor had made it clear that if it is true, she unequivocally condemns such practices and regards it as unacceptable. This would be a serious breach of trust. Such practices should be stopped immediately. (der Spiegel - 23 October 2013)

Unsurprisingly, her timely righteous indignation had sufficiently placated the public, a modicum of trust had been restored and she was swept back into power.

And so, as the electorial imperative passed, her regime were now free again to dissemble and obfuscate to their electorate with impunity. Or were they?

Fast forward to Merkel's visit to the US.

Who was sucking on which teat is not exactly clear, but we can be certain that Merkel was not going to jeopardise the BND/NSA intelligence sharing relationship when she knew that Obama had the ability to snoop on and kill off a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement that would be advantageous to Germany.

Furthermore, on the issue of the Ukrainain debacle, while Merkel's geo-political influence may stretch to the ear of the Russian President, Putin, her capacity to have any effect on the outcome of the conflict is limited and she is of little value to the Americans in their neo-imperial quest for global economic supremacy in the Balkans.

Merkel was in a fix: she had nothing to offer the Obama regime and could no longer dissemble, deceive or obfuscate her constituents back in Germany.

Thus, it is of no surprise whatsoever that their meeting ended in a 'lost-in-translation' fiasco as the simultaneous translation of her comments became garbled in a so-called technological malfunction. Obama had come to her rescue.

Clearly sleeping with the enemy has become de rigueur by regime apparatchiks in their quest for survival.

In essence, the meeting achieved nothing, it was not meant to, it was a non-visit visit. If Merkel had any notion of regaining the trust of her electorate or of her wider constituents the opportunity was lost.

In other words, we (Merkel's regime) have known all along what the guys at NSA and GCHQ have been up to and even helped them do it. However, for the benefit of the German public and the wider audience of the world, we need to dissemble and deceive about our complicity in these activities by timely demonstrations of appropriate condemnation and rebuke. If the NSA and GCHQ can assist in this endeavour, particularly during my visit to the US in May, it would greatly appreciated. In return, we may even help you build another NSA bunker, like the one under construction in Wiesbaden, so you can snoop on the new United Balkan States of Eastern Europe.

I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.
Friedrich Nietzsche