Why Indian ministers are in denial about US snooping?

New Delhi, July 2: One expects, normally, an informed response from Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari. But his dismissal of US snooping charges as hearsay, is strange, and flies in the face of evidence and admission of guilt by Barack Obama himself!

Going a step ahead in denial is External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid. He said today that it is not actually snooping.

Manish Tewari and Salman Khurshid could have just agreed with Obama and matter would have been better understood.

Obama not coy about it

US President Barack Obama defend his country's suveillance of other countries and said on Monday during his trip to Africa that every intelligence service in Europe, Asia and elsewhere does its best to understand the world better, and that goes beyond what they read in newspapers or watch on TV.

If that weren't the case, then there'd be no use for an intelligence service,'' Obama told reporters in Tanzania.

A Guardian newspaper article on Sunday had alleged that National Security Agency targets 38 embassies including embassies and missions of US allies like France, Italy, Greece, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, India and Turkey.

Kerry calls it routine

US Secretary of State John Kerry explained the spying as routine. I will say that every country in the world that is engaged in international affairs with national security undertakes lots of activities to protect its national security and all kinds of information contributes to that,'' Kerry said.

When the US top leadership says it is intelligence or snooping, Khurshid says "this is not scrutiny and access to actual messages. It is only computer analysis of patterns of calls and emails that are being sent. It is not actually snooping on specifically on content of anybody's message or conversation."

Khurshid, who is currently in Brunei to attend series of ASEAN meetings, told reporters that "some of the information they (the US) got out of their scrutiny, they were able to use it to prevent serious terrorist attacks in several countries," he said. The remarks are in contrast with that of the ministry, which had initially termed as "unacceptable" any privacy violation.

India is fifth most tracked and admit it

As per the leaked documents by whistleblower Edward Snowden, India has emerged as the fifth most tracked country by the US intelligence.

However, this is what Manish Tewari feels about snooping. "Since these are revelations which are coming from an individual, they are really hearsay, it is not as if this is verified information that is being put in the public space. We also need to see the other aspect of it as to how seriously should we take unverified content," Tewari told a news channel.

"I think we should allow government to formulate a holistic view. We will apply ourselves to whatever has been written in those communications so that the government can take a holistic view as to how best to respond to it," he added.

As a footnote, Tewari said the matter does raise some issues which not only pertain to access of data in an authorized or an unauthorized manner but also to the larger questions of diplomatic immunity of communications and sanctity of the Geneva Convention protocols which are involved.

OneiIndia News

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