News / USA

Reports: Obama Considers Ending Spying on Allied Leaders

An American flag waves on top of the US embassy in Berlin, Oct. 28, 2013.
An American flag waves on top of the US embassy in Berlin, Oct. 28, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
U.S. officials say the Obama administration is weighing whether to order the National Security Agency to stop spying on leaders of American allies.  

California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, issued a statement Monday saying she was informed by the White House that "collection on our allies will not continue."  However, administration officials later stressed that a final decision on the matter has not been made.

Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for President Barack Obama's National Security Council, issued a statement hours later saying the administration has "already made some decisions through this process," but refused to discuss Feinstein's statement.

The Obama administration has come under fire in recent weeks, both at home and abroad, over allegations that it has monitored the personal communications of 35 world leaders, including the cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Feinstein has called for a "total review'' of all U.S. intelligence programs in response to the allegations, adding that her committee was not "satisfactorily informed" by the NSA.

National Intelligence director James Clapper is expected to face questions about the growing scandal when he testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents earlier this year purporting to show sweeping U.S. surveillance of Internet searches and telephone records of U.S. citizens and world leaders. The revelations have sparked outrage globally.

A leading U.S. newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, reported on Monday that Obama went nearly five years without knowing that his own spies were bugging the phones of Chancellor Merkel and the other world leaders, and that the program has now ended.

The newspaper, citing anonymous U.S. officials, said the president learned of the snooping after ordering an internal review a few months ago. The White House said it is not monitoring Merkel's mobile phones and will not do so in the future, but it has declined comment on whether the NSA spied on her devices in the past.

A large delegation of European Union lawmakers is in Washington for a series of meetings with U.S. lawmakers and intelligence officials about the allegations.

Germany says it will soon send its intelligence chiefs to Washington to demand answers about the spying. Merkel called Obama last week to voice her personal protest, saying that international friends cannot condone such snooping.

German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger suggested severing U.S. access to an important law enforcement tool used to track terrorist money flows. The SWIFT agreement, signed after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, allows the U.S. access to funds transferred through the private, Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, which handles the movement of money between banks worldwide.

Germany is also working with Brazil on a draft U.N. General Assembly resolution to guarantee privacy in electronic communications. U.N. diplomats say it would call for extending the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to online activities but would not mention the United States.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Rusty from: Canada
October 30, 2013 9:47 AM
Obama "considers" stopping the spy activities. So much for open and clear government. Treat your friends like garbage and see how many friends you have when you them.


by: Frumunda Vomit from: USA
October 29, 2013 10:30 AM
We had believed, along with a number of others, that the Snowden leaks showing how the NSA was spying on pretty much everyone would likely kill CISPA dead. After all, the key component to CISPA was basically a method for encouraging companies to have total immunity from sharing information with the NSA. And while CISPA supporters pretended this was to help protect those companies and others from online attacks, the Snowden leaks have reinforced the idea (that many of us had been pointing out from the beginning) that it was really about making it easier for the NSA to rope in companies to help them spy on people.

Also, if you don’t remember, while CISPA had passed the House, the Senate had shown little appetite for it. Last year, the Senate had approved a very different cybersecurity bill, and had expressed very little interest in taking up that fight again this year. Except now, in an unexpected move, Senate Intelligence Committee boss, and chief NSA defender because of reasons that are top secret, has now announced that she’s been writing a Senate counterpart to CISPA and is prepared to “move it forward.”

Yes, it seems that even though the NSA gleefully hid the evidence of widespread abuses from Feinstein’s oversight committee, she’s playing the co-dependent role yet again. Yes, there’s a chance that this new version of the bill will actually take into account privacy and civil liberties, but I doubt many people would take a bet on that being likely.

Right now what the public is concerned about are not “cyberattacks” from foreigners — they’re concerned about our own government undermining the security and privacy of Americans themselves. Giving those responsible for that destruction of privacy and trust more power to abuse the privacy of Americans is not what people are looking for. Quite the opposite.

In Response

by: Kevin from: Ottawa
October 29, 2013 5:09 PM
Two presidents lied for years about this.

Why would we believe them now?


by: hello hello from: new york
October 29, 2013 8:54 AM
Israel is not allied with united states, Israel is the secret enemy of the united states


by: hellobob
October 29, 2013 4:19 AM
so when is he going to stop spying on his own people?

In Response

by: Dr. Quentin Dirtyfart from: USA
October 29, 2013 10:05 AM
Never, will it stop, everyone needs to look up and EXPOSE PROJECT ECHELON.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid