French authorities are shocked — shocked — to learn that the American government is spying on French citizens. The Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador to the Quai D'Orsay to inform him that what's going on is "unacceptable," and President Francois Hollande claimed to have issued a stern rebuke to President Obama in a phone conversation.
At issue is the allegation — in a Le Monde article by Glenn Greenwald based on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden — that the NSA carried out massive electronic surveillance within France, including collecting some 70.3 million pieces of data on phone calls in a single month. Much remains unclear, but the article suggested that the surveillance may have been aimed not just at suspected terrorists but also at businessmen, politicians and others.
Naturally, the French would be outraged. What government would be happy to learn that a close ally was secretly monitoring its people? Then again, it was revealed in 2010 that France conducts its own espionage activities here on U.S. soil. What's more, French officials have been aware of the NSA program in France for months. Oh, and also, France's intelligence agencies have established an electronic surveillance system of their own that monitors their citizens' phone conversations, emails, texts and even their Twitter posts.