Follow Christiane on social media:

On Twitter + Facebook + Instagram Amanpour producers on Twitter

What time is Amanpour on CNN?

Check showtimes to see when Amanpour is on CNN where you are. Or watch online.

Check showtimes to see when Amanpour is on CNN where you are. Or watch online.

Germany sees an inattentive partner in Washington

July 14th, 2014
03:51 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Germany needs U.S. partnership on spying but must first see a change from Washington and “probably the most detached President [in] decades,” former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

There is “a level of mistrust that needs to be fixed, and it needs to be fixed from Washington,” Guttenberg told Amanpour in London.

Trust between the two countries has fallen to dangerous lows as new allegations emerged that the U.S. recruited a spy inside Germany’s secret service.

Berlin has since ordered the top U.S. spy in the country to leave – the first time a close American ally has expelled a CIA station chief.

Spying, Guttenberg told Amanpour, “is nothing new.”

“Honestly, we all do it,” he said. “But you shouldn’t get caught.”

Getting caught now is particularly embarrassing for the United States, which had been under pressure to repair relations with Berlin after it was revealed last October that the U.S. had tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.

Germany of course is a country with its own dark history of government spying, and public opinion on America has soured as a result of the revelations.

(Of course, the former defense minister said, “everyone spies on each other. I cannot give you any evidence, but I think it’s an illusion to believe that the Germans just hold their hands in their lap.”)

The outrage in Germany now is not just about the Americans “getting caught,” he said.

“It’s a process now that has developed over the last couple of months, since last year, since the NSA revelations. And it is serious when you look at the general mood right now in Germany.”

Guttenberg served as minister under Chancellor Angela Merkel, and is still in regular touch with her.

Asking the CIA station chief to leave is “a serious matter,” but one that was necessary, he said, “because there was no reaction in the last couple of months from Washington.”

President Obama, he said, is “not seemingly capable to communicate properly on an eye-to-eye level with other heads of state.”

Case in point: The tapping of Merkel’s phone.

“[President Obama] knew it already last summer; what do you do in such a moment? You pick up the phone, you call the Chancellor, tell her, ‘Well, we messed up; let’s try to fix it.’ Didn’t happen.”

“After that, she campaigned, here at a campaign in Germany, defending the U.S. after the NSA revelations. It was a high risk for her.”

“And then the press revealed the phone tapping of Angela Merkel’s … cell phone.”

“Did he call then? No, it was her calling.”

Even with American presidents “the Germans struggled with,” such as George W. Bush, “we had on the top level a relationship that functioned, so that they may have bashed each other in public, but they could pick up the phone” and have cooperation.

On the substance of intelligence sharing, Guttenberg said that Germany needs U.S. support.

“We have an urgent need for cooperation looking at the challenges we are facing right now. Europe is still not capable of handling the crisis around Europe by itself – look at Ukraine, look at the Middle East at the moment.”

But a “no spy” agreement, as the U.S. has with four of its closest English-speaking allies, is likely not in the offing, and not even in German interests, he said.

“It would mean more responsibilities, responsibilities where we have been reluctant for the last couple of years.”

Among those, he said, is the requirement to explain to the German people “that we are part of a wide coalition, a broad coalition that is involved in things the German people don’t like to hear. That has historic reasons; that has other reasons.”

Whether Washington can change its tune to the satisfaction of German leadership remains to be seen.

In President Obama’s January speech announcing reforms to the NSA, he said that “that the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don't threaten our national security, and that we take their privacy concerns into account in our policies and procedures. This applies to foreign leaders as well.”

“There was a penalty and he missed the goal,” Guttenberg said of Obama a day after his country won the World Cup.

“And in the weeks after that he could have done quite a bit to actually put substance behind that very sentence, and it didn’t come. But there is still time to do so.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Germany • Latest Episode
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. ashok

    The global village continues to need a headman. For decades, the United States has played that role, better than any other nation possibly could have. It cannot afford to be detached from its day job.

    July 14, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Reply
    • doru

      Time to grow up.

      July 15, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Reply
  2. Jane Nappylotto

    The Clinton's were right... Obama is an "Amatuer".
    The Community Organizer is way over his head on all fronts.

    July 14, 2014 at 6:36 pm | Reply
    • wideawake

      Your insult of community organiser is right out of the idiotic Sarah Palin's book!
      If you had any knowledge of international politics you would see that Obama is way above the nonsense.
      He is busy fixing what you and the other morons are failing to see- A strong and vibrant economy as demonstrated by the high Dow Jones. The issue with Germany is a Bush era problem which Obama is right not to waste too much time on. Germany is important but for the US a better relationship with Poland is essential and that is what Obama is doing while the idiots are not recognising this. You are too dumb to know that- Maybe community organising isn't such a bad thing after all-

      July 15, 2014 at 4:41 am | Reply
      • Joe Liberal

        vibrant economy?? I see you have been getting a cop of MSNBC talking points. Yes dow is up but if you know anything you understand DOW represents only a hand full of companies.

        July 15, 2014 at 11:26 am |
      • Joe Liberal

        Community Organizer is the correct barb to be tossed at the worst president of the last 100 years, bush and wilson a close second.

        July 15, 2014 at 11:28 am |
      • geopolitical perspective

        @ joe liberal

        worst president because he has accomplished more than every president before him in a shorter space of time without the help of the right wing conspirators?

        July 15, 2014 at 12:29 pm |
      • nobama

        Your senseless ramblings and name calling are what's wrong with politics today. Your hero slowbama is an amateur and that is widely felt everywhere not just here in the ol US. You must be a member of the 1% claiming a robust economy as a claim for obamas success. Please no one out side your group sees the last 6 years as anything but a wash. better luck next time.

        July 15, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
      • Joe Liberal

        @ geopolitical perspective

        What has he accomplished? Russian expansion, middle-east on fire, seeded iraq back to extremist, labor force smallest it has been in last 50 years with high unemployment, the 2x of welfare benefits amoung us citizens, massive illegal immigration and a border out of control?? and on and on and on...

        July 15, 2014 at 5:59 pm |
  3. Jocksniffit

    This community is a bit big for Obama to organize. Let's hear how the Germans are racist for suggesting that Obama is detached. Let's hear how this somehow is Bush's fault. Please, spare me the usual retorts.

    July 14, 2014 at 6:47 pm | Reply
    • geopolitical perspective

      I'm afraid the German is a racist and so are you right wing bigots out to blame our President for Bush's policies. Before you start blaming our President for allegedly spying on the Germans, perhaps you should have the courage to just google NSA at Wikipedia and I assure both the likes of you and Guttenberg would discover that NSA was implemented by the Bush administration in 2002 as part of our so-called counter-terrorism initiative or war on terror. Shortly following implementation of NSA, it was discovered that the phone records of millions of Americans were being monitored and stored in a national data base network through AT&T. When some Americans and corporations discovered that their personal information was being tampered with without authorization, many filed law suits against the Bush administration but the supreme court threw out every suit citing that the surveillance was for national security purposes. But no, you conservatives like to blame our President for every shortcomings of the Bush administration. However, history will tell otherwise.

      July 15, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Reply
      • matt

        Well Obama is in charge now and doesn't stop the spying on Germany.

        July 15, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
      • Roger

        "NSA was implemented by the Bush administration in 2002 as part our counter terrorism measure"? The NSA has been in business since 1952, moron.

        July 15, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
      • Joe Liberal

        oh did Obama just take office? He had 6 years to reverse the policy, why hasnt he? The Dems had 100% control of congress for 1st 2 years so your right-wing obstructionist argument falls on its face... maybe electing a community organizer who is friends with radicals may be the root cause?? just maybe?

        July 15, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
  4. Gary

    Lets see how many of you good old Americans are gonna side with Germany instead of your own country. Just like those who love Putin and hate your own President. Traiters

    July 14, 2014 at 7:53 pm | Reply
    • yankeevet

      When it comes to arrogant Russians you have to get in their face and not back down only then will they respect you. Obama has backed down......

      July 15, 2014 at 4:21 am | Reply
      • HARDTALK

        Probably so! But we don't have any American soldier dead. Bush did not back down and promised reinforcement and military assistance. George W. Bush didn't show up: OSSETIA 11 AUGUST 2008

        So, what is more disappoint and embarrassing? Obama or Bush?

        July 15, 2014 at 11:58 am |
  5. king

    . something is seriously wrong with the right wing in this country. is obama dealing with every day oporations at the cia. these right wingers are just looking fo anything to pounce on our president for, it wouldnt matter if it was world war III. they would probably go fight with our enemies against this great nation. of course other nations are going to parrot the right winged talking points, because they know that if obama ever retaliates the right wing has their back. hatred of our first black president has clouded the logic and patriotism of so many right wingers.

    July 14, 2014 at 8:32 pm | Reply
  6. edog

    I for one voted for this President to do exactly what he is doing. FOCUSING ON THE U.S.A.!!!!! Remember morons?? What about the jobs??!!! Do we all forget that is what Americans want, is a President to stop policing the world and focus on putting American back to work!!!

    July 14, 2014 at 11:04 pm | Reply
  7. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Thank God we have President Obama to save us from the desperate radical extremist GOP stunt party.

    July 15, 2014 at 5:39 am | Reply
  8. enough already

    Bush probably thought he was talking to Angela from the rug rats!

    July 15, 2014 at 6:16 am | Reply
  9. HenryMiller

    “...probably the most detached President [in] decades..."

    "There is “a level of mistrust that needs to be fixed, and it needs to be fixed from Washington,”

    Don't feel bad, Germany—most Americans feel the same way you do about Obama.

    July 15, 2014 at 10:23 am | Reply
    • name (required)

      Still better than Bush

      July 15, 2014 at 11:28 am | Reply
    • HARDTALK

      Former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenber was fired from his post for lying on his resumé. Google it. Must I said more? He claimed he had a doctorate. The man is actually looking for job. He now is into Cyber sciences.

      July 15, 2014 at 11:39 am | Reply
    • HARDTALK

      Former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenber was fired from his post for lying on his resumé. Google it. Must I said more? He claimed he had a doctorate. The man is actually looking for job. He now is into Cyber sciences.

      July 15, 2014 at 11:40 am | Reply
  10. WillA

    Ich entschuldige mich.

    July 15, 2014 at 11:11 am | Reply
    • HARDTALK

      Brauchts du nicht!

      July 15, 2014 at 11:37 am | Reply
  11. HARDTALK

    former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenber was fired from his post for lying on his resumé. Google it. Must I said more?

    July 15, 2014 at 11:36 am | Reply
    • Neophyte

      Anyway Guttenberg is absolutely right! Obama is the most worse U.S. president of all times! He would be better as the head of any charity foundation but not the leader of the west! Germany grow up and start defend your country and Europe alone!

      July 16, 2014 at 7:19 am | Reply
  12. joe

    Chicago street N* er..they all can see it now...

    July 15, 2014 at 11:56 am | Reply
  13. geopolitical perspective

    Guttenberg is a blatant racist. The most detached President in decades? Really? This man is part of the right wing conspirator out to blame our President for Bush's policies. Perhaps Guttenberg should google NSA at Wilkerpedia and perhaps he'd discover that NSA was implemented by the Bush administration in 2002 as part our counter terrorism measure. Furthermore, when NSA was first implemented, phone records of millions of Americans were monitored and kept in a data base through AT&T. Many Americans and companies who felt betrayed by the measure, took the Bush administration to court but the supreme court threw out every suit citing that the confiscation of records and such were solely for national security. But all of a sudden, this racist conservative right wing German bigot wants to blame our President for what was already in place when he took office. Outrageous.

    July 15, 2014 at 12:13 pm | Reply
  14. norma jean

    MR.Miller.....Please don't have the nerve to speak for other Americans....we donot believe the way you do......As to Germany....where have they been that all of a sudden they look to us.... They haven't been there for us!!!!..

    July 15, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Reply
  15. Patines

    Yes, it seems like GWB will be one of the worst, but not "the".

    July 15, 2014 at 3:00 pm | Reply
  16. Joe

    As a Brit, I would like to know what has happened to America? The nation that has demonstrated free-spirit, enterprise and a positive go-for-it culture which has inspired most of the world, now appears to have morphed into a nation that loves war, likes to spy on its allies and is annoying most of the world. Bush was a disgrace, but Obama certainly isn't promoting America internationally. If only America could return to a time when the Kennedy's were in charge!

    July 15, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Reply
    • ivo

      As a brit ,you are not only a second class person..you are bankrupt,because you are liable for so many crimes and payments,that you and your generations can never repay...

      July 16, 2014 at 4:59 am | Reply
    • ivo

      Get use to the new realitiies ,that as a brit ..you are in the best case...A TOURIST ATTRACTION...if not a circus actor

      July 16, 2014 at 5:02 am | Reply
  17. Joe

    As a Brit, I would like to know what has happened to America? The nation that has demonstrated free-spirit, enterprise and a positive go-for-it culture which has inspired most of the world, now appears to have morphed into a nation that loves war, likes to spy on its allies and is annoying most of the world. Bush was a disgrace, but Obama certainly isn't promoting America internationally. If only America could return to a time when the Kennedys were in charge!

    July 15, 2014 at 7:27 pm | Reply
    • ivo

      As a brit ..you are just a shame for the HUMAN CIVILISATION.

      July 16, 2014 at 4:57 am | Reply
  18. bobhamiltonchicago

    He is not detached, he just knows what they're going to say already.

    July 15, 2014 at 8:13 pm | Reply
  19. Sirex

    Are you talking about extraterrestrial beings?

    July 15, 2014 at 11:50 pm | Reply
  20. ivo

    Thank you Obama for destroying your shameful country..and thus saving the WORLD

    July 16, 2014 at 4:50 am | Reply
  21. fumes

    There's no good answer. Washington does this to all who enter.

    July 16, 2014 at 6:56 am | Reply
  22. JohnSmart

    I've been say Obama is a lazy, arrogant, detached douchbag for years. The only reason the American media treats him so well is because the rich, well fed, gated community progressives who run 80% of the media in the U.S. can't and won't comprehend that the black trinket they brought to prove how cool they are to Daddy turned out so badly. I assure you if Obama was a white male CNN would be wall to wall with some versions of "What is wrong with Obama? Why is he so detached?" They would rather let the U.s. burn than admit to being wrong and stupid.
    Delusional white liberals are the bane of civilization.

    July 17, 2014 at 10:23 am | Reply

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.