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Michael V. Hayden, a former director of both the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, pushed back at the European anger on Sunday in an appearance on the CBS program "Face the Nation," saying in effect that all countries spy.

UPDATE: General Hayden committed some truth during that interview.  My lame excuse is that I'm so used to reading and hearing baldfaced lies, I seem to be imagining them even when somebody tells what at least sounds like the frank truth.  General Hayden indeed said "The United States DOES conduct espionage" [emphasis added] and I hallucinated up the word "not" in there.

Maybe he's splitting hairs, but when I read #1 below, I laughed and blurted out, "Then what were we paying you to do?"

"No. 1: The United States does conduct espionage," Mr. Hayden said. "No. 2: Our Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans' privacy, is not an international treaty. And No. 3: Any European who wants to go out and rend their garments with regard to international espionage should look first and find out what their own governments are doing."
I suppose Mr. Hayden could be basing "The U.S. does not conduct espionage" on insisting that the proper term is "gathering intelligence."  He probably prefers some euphemism like that when applied to what he was doing at the NSA and CIA.  But asking anyone to buy into the idea that it's "intelligence" when we do it but "espionage" when some other country does it is an insult to the intelligence.  Or at least it's an insult to anyone who can't compartmentalize his mind into sectors that never compare notes.

This would be great for laughs if it weren't seriously messing up our dealings with our allies.  Much of the article is about how it may derail trade agreement talks with the European Union.  At the very least, it's going to slow those talks down.  No sensible representative is going to report back to his home country without taking plenty of time consuming steps to make sure his message isn't intercepted.  Composing handwritten reports and sending them by courier takes time.  

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