News / Europe

Allies Protest Wiretapping, but Partner With NSA

Demonstrators march through Washington toward the U.S. Capitol to rally and demand that the U.S. Congress investigate the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs, Oct. 26, 2013.
Demonstrators march through Washington toward the U.S. Capitol to rally and demand that the U.S. Congress investigate the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs, Oct. 26, 2013.
Al Pessin
The 23-member European Parliament delegation began a series of meetings Monday with U.S. lawmakers and officials in several government agencies, including the National Security Council at the White House. The talks are scheduled to extend through Wednesday.

European officials are protesting to Washington following revelations that a U.S. intelligence program collected data about millions of telephone calls, and monitored calls involving senior leaders.

The U.S. ambassador in Madrid was called in to receive a Spanish government protest Monday, after reports that the National Security Agency collected data on the origin and end point of millions of Spanish telephone calls.

A Spanish government minister reportedly called the operation "inappropriate and unacceptable” conduct by a friendly nation.

The latest revelation is reportedly from information provided by fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who has received temporary asylum in Russia. His information also led to reports of NSA tracking of millions of French phone calls.

U.S. policy expert James Boys at London’s King’s College said the alleged surveillance makes clear how seriously American officials view their responsibility to do everything possible to fight terrorism.

“What this incident does demonstrate is that there are continuing U.S. national security interests that will be continued irrespective of who is in the White House, and that they will be pursued irrespective of the potential hurt to feelings that may be caused, even in allies and capitals around Europe,” said Boys.

Massive call tracking operations identify the origin and end-point of phone calls in an effort to establish patterns and find terrorists, without actually listening to the calls.  

The latest reports of such tracking come just days after allegations - again based on information from Snowden - that U.S. intelligence officials did listen to phone calls by as many as 35 world leaders over many years.

Among them were German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who dispatched senior intelligence officials to Washington to demand an investigation.  

German media report U.S. President Barack Obama knew about the surveillance. The NSA denies it, though, and The Wall Street Journal newspaper reports the president was not aware of the program until a few months ago, and he ordered it stopped.  

Berlin-based Journal reporter Anton Troianovski said whether the president knew or not, this is becoming “a major event” in U.S.-German relations.

“It’s really something that’s being taken personally by much of the political leadership here. Chancellor Merkel has spoken over and over in the last few days about a relationship of trust being broken, and the need to reestablish trust. People really struggle to explain what the point of this would be.”

Troianovski said the long-term impact of the revelations will depend on how well the United States explains its actions to European leaders and their people.

At a summit last week, European leaders took turns criticizing the U.S. intelligence gathering program. Boys is suspicious, though, of the European outrage.

“The European intelligence services are allied with the National Security Agency. And European powers will benefit from some of the intelligence that’s gathered by the National Security Agency. So, sure - there are some ruffled feathers, but all European leaders will be aware that conversations are monitored. So I think there’s a lot of public posturing going on here,” said Boys.

A senior member of the U.S. Congress expressed a similar view on Sunday. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, called the European objections “disingenuous,” and said the call tracking helps keep the United States and its allies safe.  

The New York Times newspaper reports that France and Germany will try to address the issue through even closer ties with U.S. intelligence, in an arrangement that would share the most sensitive information in exchange for a promise not to spy on each other. The Times said European governments also may require global communications firms to get their approval before providing U.S. intelligence agencies with information about calls or emails in their countries.

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by: Plain Mirror Intl from: Plain Planet - Africa
October 29, 2013 4:23 AM
Good, the wind over the US is blowing in chains and the nakedness exposed to the extent that even the blind sees it. Those who see the US as god, can go home and repent of the misleading belief. The confusion in the world today is the US- saying good and doing the contrary.

by: makeroftoys from: America
October 28, 2013 10:32 PM
Smoke and mirrors ...
every time Smoke and Mirrors
why?
so they can run off with all the money and convince you to give them your future earnings as well. in short Slavery
Economic Slavery to be specific.
Which is the best form of slavery because it requires that the slaves feed and cloth themselves

by: John Baker from: Australia
October 28, 2013 7:12 PM
I used to admire the Americans and the ideals that were their foundation. Because of the wrongly held belief that they know what's best for the world and their unbelievable greed,they are now a threat to the freedom and prosperity of every other nation.They seem to be heading in the same direction as North Korea where every facet of peoples lives is tightly controlled and anyone who steps out of line is tossed into the gulag.Their founding fathers must be turning in their graves!!

by: upowe from: Maryland
October 28, 2013 2:49 PM
I remember these words. Freedom isn't free, you got to pay a price, you sacrifice for your liberty. Those are word that i wil never forget.

by: usmc from: usa
October 28, 2013 2:37 PM
let me just say that if the people of Spain want to be taken seriously... you have got to do something about this silly hat... no wonder the British look on you as stupid - can you blame them? you think you can recover your territory from Britain looking like idiots...???

by: Xaaji Dhagax
October 28, 2013 2:25 PM
There's no question that US did eavesdropping to all European leaders plus Mexico, Brazil and Haiti. What's the fuss if these leaders have got nothing to hide?, I mean what else they all can do against US. Crafting a new international anti-spying law at UN will take them nowhere! Please stop being fussy fools and let's keep saying loud and clear "God Bless America"!

by: stephen Real from: Columbia USA
October 28, 2013 9:46 AM
This is not about them. (i.e. Europe) This is about US and how we conduct ourselves as Americans. I do not need to search through my old lady's personal things to have a deep trust with her. Gosh fellas. Have a modicum of decorum.

by: rbockman from: Philly
October 27, 2013 5:38 PM
I see nothing wrong in watching the German leader. Germany's adventures have cost the U.S. much in treasure and blood.

by: avlisk from: Arizona
October 27, 2013 4:56 PM
As Obama once said, "The buck stops here." Oh, what's that? It wasn't Obama who said that? I'm shocked. Shocked!

by: Ted Price from: Tennesseee
October 27, 2013 2:52 PM
The USA has no credibility in the world
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