German Chancellor Angela Merkel was "livid" upon hearing that the United States has been eavesdropping on her conversations, according to a recent report in the British news outlet The Guardian.
Merkel's mobile telephone had been listed by the National Security Agency's (NSA) Special Collection Service (SCS) since 2002 -- marked as "GE Chancellor Merkel" -- and was still on the list weeks before President Obama visited Berlin in June, German news weekly Der Spiegel said.
Claudia Roth, co-leader of the German Green Party, told SPIEGEL ONLINE that the alleged bugging of Merkel's cell phone is a "terrible, terrible scandal" that if proven, is a more extreme invasion of privacy than those imagined in George Orwell's 1984.
"The NSA's monitoring activities have gotten completely out of hand and evidently take place beyond all democratic controls," said Thomas Oppermann, the chairman of the Parliamentary Control Panel, which is responsible for monitoring Germany's federal intelligence services.
The United States can understand outrage over spying. We were pretty pissed when US intelligence --the NSA no less!-- revealed that the Soviet Union had bugged our nearly complete embassy in Moscow. (Not to mention the time they gifted us a bugged seal of the United States, pictured with Henry Cabot Lodge II above. I wonder if we re-gifted that.)
Construction on the badly needed embassy was abruptly halted in August 1985 when it was discovered that Soviet workers had been doing concealed work not called for in the building plans.
Using a CAT-scan machine, US officials "found an elaborate and far-reaching network of spying equipment concealed inside beams, walls and floor slabs," the Philadelphia Inquirer reported in October 1988.
According to a 2012 history of the Moscow embassy scandal, produced by the NSA, bugs were also placed in typewriters. "As a totalitarian society, the Soviet Union valued eavesdropping and thus developed ingenious methods to accomplish it," the NSA report explains.
President Reagan decided that the only way to prevent the KGB secret police from eavesdropping on the U.S. Embassy in Moscow was to tear down the new chancery and rebuild it from the ground up, the LA Times reported on Oct 27, 1988.
This would've cost US taxpayers hundreds of millions dollars, but the Cold War ended in 1991 and the building remained in tact. Construction on the embassy was finally completed in May 2000.
In a radio address to the nation in April 1987, President Reagan said:
Recent events have made it clear that the Soviets have gone beyond the bounds of reason in their efforts to compromise the security of our current Embassy in Moscow. Unfortunately, no one is suggesting that Soviet espionage is not a fact of life, but what seems to be emerging is the picture of an intense espionage strategy that reflects a callous disregard for the consequences of such actions.