World Cup: NSA Spying Well Offside
As soccer’s World Cup continues this week in Brazil, PEN is taking a look at some of the top contenders’ records on free expression.
The Cup kicked off under the pall of “patriotic” efforts by the National Security Agency (NSA) to tip the scales in favor of the U.S. team through the mass interception of communications from countries whose teams boast a richer pedigree in the global game – that is to say, most. Clearly, the NSA is looking for a competitive advantage that would avoid recourse to option B: parking the team bus in front of the goal.
NSA Surveillance has extended to the presidential offices of contenders Germany and Brazil, who have made clear their extreme displeasure with the NSA’s move to stack the deck against their teams, responding with threats to end ongoing intelligence cooperation and railing against “a breach of international law and an affront.” Clearly, these reactions miss the point.
In the sporting world, retaliation has been more to-the-point. Former German star goal-scorer and serial diver—and now US Head Coach—Jurgen Klinsmann helpfully announced that the U.S. is not “in it to win it,” confirming the suspicions of many U.S. soccer fans incensed at the decision to drop 2010 World Cup star Landon Donovan and the seeming substitution of striker Jozy Altidore with a scoring-averse doppleganger.
But the tactic apparently worked on Ghana. Rather than risk a fail with Germany and Portugal, maybe the NSA should leave it to our boys to attempt the win, and instead reallocate the reported $5.2 billion for the latest NSA headquarters expansion to the little leaguers and coaches of South Bronx United in preparation for the 2022 Cup. And to printing copies of the Constitution for the Agency’s legal team.
But seriously: The U.S. gets a red card for free expression. Click here to see how our competitors fare.