Swedish FISA

It’s not easy, but with a little imagination you could probably come up with some sort of category that groups together America, Saudi Arabia and China. Consolation pool for the soccer World Cup, for instance, or a snarky “Friends of the Ozone Layer” award. But toss Sweden in there, and the exercise becomes a bit more challenging. Until you consider that yesterday, Sweden’s parliament passed an aggressive surveillance bill that allows its national intelligence agency to scan all telephone and electronic communications that cross the country’s borders for key words without a court order:

“By introducing these new measures, the Swedish government is following the examples set by governments ranging from China and Saudi Arabia to the U.S. government’s widely criticized eavesdropping program,” Google’s global privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer said.

Proponents justify the measure, which passed by a very close margin, by the terrorist threat. Which brought to mind a remark made by Yves Boyer (one of the analysts I interviewed for last week’s Livre Blanc series) on a TV program the other night. He referred to other European countries that have become too lazy to think for themselves strategically, instead adopting the American posture by default. He suggested that might be the case with regards to France’s Livre Blanc, and it would be easy to say that’s what’s going on here with Sweden.

I agree to a certain extent, but I’d also argue that American doctrine is moving towards the French-European position as well, both in terms of military interventions and for domestic counter-terrorism police work. French counter-terrorism measures, for instance, are more muscular than America’s, as are England’s. (I’m talking about domestic measures, not those carried out in offshore black sites to our great national shame.) So it’s possible to argue that Sweden is following that trend as much as our own example. It’s still not exactly a category I’d expect to find the Swedes in.

More World Politics Review