And speaking of the limits of government power we had the spectacle this last week of the latest revelation from Edward Snowden which suggested that the NSA has been bugging the phone of the heads of state of its own allies, such as French President Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel.
First off, one has to question whether this is the best use of NSA resources. I mean isnt there some terrorist or tax dodging banker they could be out trying to catch? And I suspect that the bulk of Merkels phone calls would have involved her crying and swearing every time the Greek or Irish PM called looking for more bailout money, long boring conversations with her husband about which brand of toothpaste she should get in the store and the odd prank phone call from Berlusconi. And of course the NSA, as far as Mr Bunga, Bunga goes, they may as well have phoned a 24 hr chat line and what theyd of heard wont be that dissimilar.
Indeed if I was Merkel, Id have taken advantage of this to yank the Americans chain from time to time. By for example pretending that she and the other European leaders all secretly spoke in Arabic to each other privately and subtly dropping hints about operation Wolfenstein (the secret European plan to invade the US and force them to start using metric, as well as spelling things like metre properly).
But jokes aside, if you feel the need to spy on your own allies theres something seriously wrong with you (its like a husband or wife feeling the urge to spy on their partner, it sort of suggests that the marriage is on the rocks). And it is with good reason that there is such a furore about this. I mean how would the Americans react if it was revealed that the White House had been bugged by the Germans?