Europeans should shouldn’t be so quick express outrage at the U.S. reportedly monitoring the communications of European leaders, HBO “Real Time” host Bill Maher said.
Maher appeared on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” and said that although there is some justification for European allies being “upset” over these revelations, there are also plenty of reasons the United States has an interest in monitoring what goes on in Europe.
“As far as this stuff that’s gone on the last week or so with the European allies being upset, I could understand why you would be upset if they felt that their personal cellphones were being tapped,” Maher said. “But on the other hand, they really should climb down their ass a little bit. I mean, it’s been like 60, 70 years since America has defended our allies, especially in Europe. We liberated Europe twice in the last century. They never really wanted to pay the premiums for the insurance they got for being protected. So, cut us a little slack when we’re protecting you.”
“Maybe it’s not all the right way to protect you, but you know, the 9/11 plot was hatched in Germany,” Maher continued. “There are much more restive Muslim populations on the European continent than there are here. If we’re listening in on phone calls over there, look we overdo it all. There’s no doubt about that. But, you know what, like I said, cut us a little slack for the protection we’ve given you all this time.”
Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA chief, called the reports “completely false,” and said that the NSA received the data from NATO allies. The “Real Time” host stopped short of outright endorsing the NSA’s tactics, explaining that transparency isn’t possible with this agency.
“It’s hard to say, because we don’t really know what the NSA is doing,” he said. “I’m certainly for more transparency but not that — you cannot complete transparency because after all they are a spy agency, you know. It’s like, ‘You’re keeping secrets.’ Like, ‘Of course we’re keeping secrets. That what was supposed to do is keep secrets.'”
He added that it is his hope that President Barack Obama is aware of what is going on within the agency.
“What we really don’t want is a rogue agency. What I don’t want to know, what I don’t want to find out is that they’re doing things and Obama doesn’t know about it,” he said. “You know, it’s one thing if Obama knows about it, it’s another thing if … they’re doing things without the president’s knowledge, when they’re off on their own and they’re kind of it a whole agency of Oliver Norths. We don’t need that.”