WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The National Security Agency (NSA) continued to spy on former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder because it was interested in tracking the business deals of the Russian energy giant Gazprom for economic gain, US experts told Sputnik.
“Is Gerhard Schroeder in some fashion now recast as a terrorist threat? By a hundred degrees of separation the thought’s no more than silly,” veteran International Herald Tribune correspondent and European affairs analyst Patrick Smyth told Sputnik.
However, Smyth said, the massive resources of the NSA kept monitoring the former chancellor to keep track of the Russian company’s successful gas deals with major European nations.
“It’s been clear for some time that the immense surveillance apparatus deployed by the dense nexus of opaque US agencies is not at all limited to the detection of terrorists. That’s the sales pitch, if you will, to Americans,” he stated.
Smyth said the justification for using the NSA’s resources to spy on Gazprom and Schroeder was that US policymakers had “turned energy supplies — Russian gas contracts with Europe, Russian pipelines westward to Turkey and, the latest under discussion, to terminate in Greece — effectively into instruments of war.”
He noted that some Gazprom executives had been individually targeted by the US authorities to be placed under personal economic sanctions.
“Another dimension of this has been the manipulation of oil prices — downward, to Russia’s detriment — by way of Saudi acquiescence,” the analyst pointed out. “With all of this in view, the purpose of surveilling Gazprom becomes more apparent.”
Recent WikiLeaks revelations had proven that the NSA had carried out sweeping secret surveillance of major business activities and economic policymaking of major US allies like Germany and France, Smyth acknowledged.
“One has to step back from this dispute and ask: What possible connection can this degree of surveillance penetration have with any so-called ‘war on terror’?” he asked. “What does American intelligence expect to find in the deepest bowels of corporate and individual databases?”
Smyth concluded that the justification for ever more extensive surveillance “is only very modestly related to the terror question, its true functions are vastly more extensive,” and Gazprom is an example.
“I imagine that the NSA would be very interested in Gazprom's activities from a geopolitical point of view, i.e. 'pipeline politics' and Russia's use of gas as a source of leverage over especially Eastern and Central Europe,” he told Sputnik.
Former Chancellor Schroder personal friendship with President Putin likely also enraged US policymakers, Dal Santo added.
“Schroder is very close to Putin and Nord Stream was seen as Germany helping put the squeeze on Poland, Ukraine and the Baltics by establishing a route for Russian gas supplies to Germany that cut them out,” the Danish-based analyst said.
Nord Stream is an offshore natural gas pipeline from Vyborg in the Russian Federation to Greifswald in Germany.