U.S. intelligence services are trying to collect information that protects the country's interests, Rep. Mike Rogers insists, and many of the bits and pieces of information being leaked to the media are being misinterpreted.
The Michigan Republican, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN "State of the Union" host Candy Crowley that Europeans would be surprised if they knew the extent to which their own intelligence services are spying on the United States and other countries.
For example, Rogers said, the news media was presented with "one slide" concerning surveillance of French phone calls
This "started a huge amount of discussion about Americans collecting phone calls in France with French citizens," said Rogers. "That is 100 percent wrong. And that's why this is so dangerous."
Instead, said Rogers, "this was about a counter-terrorism program that had nothing to do with French citizens," and if the French knew what all was involved in the investigation, "They would be applauding and popping champagne corks."
As a result, Rogers said, such disclosures create "an international incident on something that's absolutely wrong and incorrect."
Rogers said the United States "should collect information that is helpful" to the country's interests while not collecting what it doesn't need."
And in the case of German Chancellor Angela Merkel,
who whose country is angered because her calls have been monitored for a decade, Rogers said the disclosures "don't necessarily fit in with what is actually happening."
He pointed out that in the 1930s, the United States decided it would not monitor its friends activities, but "sometimes our friends have relationships with our adversaries...look what happened in the 30s. The rise of Fascism and Communism. It resulted in the deaths of literally tens of millions of people."
Rogers admitted that the intelligence community does not know what information it needs until it gets it, but said other countries are also monitoring the United States.
"There's a reason that the president's BlackBerry is encrypted," said Rogers. "There's a lot of people that would like to get the conversations."
Rogers said other countries don't have the same oversight of its intelligence services that the United States does.
"Their compartmentalization is much smaller than ours," said Rogers.
Further, in the United States, court orders must be gotten for certain surveillance activities.
"They don't have that in our European capitals," said Rogers, noting that Europe needs "a better oversight structure. They would be enlightened to find out what their intelligence services may or may not be doing."
Meanwhile, collecting information is much more difficult now because of the Internet, Rogers said.
"A bad guy in Afghanistan can use networks in France or Germany or Great Britain or the United States and plan operations with somebody else who may be in Afghanistan," said Rogers. "So the complication of what the U.S. intelligence services are doing is so much more difficult than it was even 10 years ago"
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