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International Spy Museum's Peter Earnest Reacts To Merkel Wiretapping

11:55 AM, Oct 30, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) -- Spies are by definition a little camera shy. But we had a chance to talk to a former CIA agent, Peter Earnest, the director of the International Spy Museum.

Earnest spent 36 years at the CIA and worries now that all the leaks are helping the terrorists and hurting America. "It's certainly helping them understand what we do, and perhaps what we don't do. And now it's also damaging foreign relations."

Some of America's closest allies are furious the National Security Agency has been tapping the phones of their heads of state, like Germany's Angela Merkel.

"I think there's a bit of hypocrisy," says Earnest, who thinks it's a bit like that scene in Casablanca where Claude Rains announces he's "Shocked!" there's gambling going on, just before he pockets his winnings.

"Do our allies spy on us, of course they do," says Earnest. "That's why every country in the world has an embassy here."

There is a carved wooden Great Seal of the US at the Spy Museum presented to the American ambassador in Moscow by Soviet schoolchildren. It hung above his desk for years before a sweep found the bug planted inside it.

Of course, the Soviet Union was our fiercest adversary at the time. But spies know the world can change. "Sometimes allies don't stay allies," says Earnest.

He fears outage on Capitol Hill and among our allies may push the pendulum too far the other way. "Which will be too bad, because intelligence is increasingly important to us and our country."

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