Obama to NSA: Stop Bugging Allies' Phones

Image: Obama to NSA: Stop Bugging Allies' Phones

Tuesday, 29 Oct 2013 10:08 AM

By Melanie Batley

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President Barack Obama plans to end the National Security Agency's phone-tapping of allied world leaders, as the diplomatic crisis deepens over reports that the U.S. monitored the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The White House, according to The New York Times, informed Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of its intentions, which developed out of the government's internal review of intelligence-gathering. That review comes in the wake of Edward Snowden's leaks about NSA's Internet and phone-data surveillance.

"I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers," Feinstein, a California Democrat, said in a statement Monday, according to the Times. She said her committee would begin a "major review of all intelligence-collection programs."

The White House, meanwhile, said unspecified changes already have been made to NSA surveillance policies. Moreover, agreements are in the works with specific allies, limiting intelligence gathering and increasing transparency.

Feinstein confirmed a Wall Street Journal report Monday that Obama was unaware of bugging of Merkel's phone — from as early as 2002 — until details emerged during an internal review this summer. He immediately ordered that it be stopped.

A growing number of European officials are angry over the disclosures of phone monitoring, and they or their representatives are to be inWashington in the coming days to protest the NSA program.

"The key message is there is a problem," Silvia Kofler, a spokeswoman for the European Union, told the Times. "We need to re-establish the trust between partners. You don't spy on partners."

Merkel already has complained personally to Obama. The U.S. has since officially confirmed it is no longer monitoring any number associated with the chancellor and will not in the future.

Related Story:
The Guardian: NSA Eavesdropped on 35 World Leaders

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