News / USA

Amid European Outrage, NSA Chief Defends Surveillance Programs

US Considering Changes In Spying Policyi
X
October 30, 2013 3:02 AM
Reports that the National Security Agency was monitoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone calls -- and those of other allies, have ignited anger overseas and here in Washington.
Watch related video from VOA's Kent Klein
Cindy Saine
The head of the National Security Agency, Army General Keith Alexander, is defending U.S. surveillance programs amid a wave of outrage across Europe.  Alexander faced a mixed reaction from lawmakers on Capitol Hill at a House hearing Tuesday.

The United States is facing a strong backlash from Europe following reports the National Security Agency wiretapped the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
 
There are also reports in other countries, including France and Spain, that the NSA was collecting the phone data of millions of their citizens.  All the reports are based on data leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
 
The European Parliament sent a nine-member delegation to Washington to meet with members of Congress as well as U.S. trade and diplomatic officials to vent their anger over U.S. surveillance practices. 
 
European Parliament member Jan Philipp Albrecht told VOA that the reports about the eavesdropping on the German chancellor were the tipping point.
 
“Now people are really concerned.  They see that it is not any longer connected to a terrorist threat, because [Chancellor] Angela Merkel is not a terrorist, or not part of a terrorist ring, and they think that there was a red line crossed, which is now spying on everybody about everything,” said Albrecht.
 
Albrecht called for public debate and for the U.S. Congress to pass legislation to balance national security needs with the responsibility to protect basic civil rights.  European officials say if changes are not made, important trans-Atlantic trade talks will be suspended.
 
On the defensive

On Capitol Hill, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence held an open hearing on possible changes to NSA spying programs. NSA chief Keith Alexander was on the defensive, saying the people at the NSA are proud patriots who work hard to keep the United States and Europe safe from real terrorist threats.
 
A protester critical of the practices of U.S. security agenices sits in the audience as U.S. top intelligence officials testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 29, 2013.A protester critical of the practices of U.S. security agenices sits in the audience as U.S. top intelligence officials testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 29, 2013.
x
A protester critical of the practices of U.S. security agenices sits in the audience as U.S. top intelligence officials testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 29, 2013.
A protester critical of the practices of U.S. security agenices sits in the audience as U.S. top intelligence officials testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 29, 2013.
“But what we do not do is spy unlawfully on Americans, or for that matter, spy indiscriminately on the citizens of any country,” said Alexander.
 
Asked about eavesdropping on foreign leaders, Alexander said one of the first things he learned in intelligence school is that it is valuable to learn about the intentions of foreign leaders. Alexander also denied the NSA is collecting the phone records of millions of French and Spanish citizens.
 
Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers also defended the NSA, saying it is naïve to think that other countries are not conducting their own surveillance programs. He said the NSA and other intelligence agencies had prevented another massive terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
 
“This is a time for leadership in a very dangerous and chaotic world; this is not a time to apologize,” said Rogers.
 
On the Senate side, Republican Susan Collins took a different stance, telling reporters, “friends do not spy on friends.”
 
"I think that is totally inappropriate. There is absolutely no justification for our country to be collecting intelligence information on the leaders of some of our closest allies," said Collins.
 
Collins and Democratic Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein say it is a big problem if President Barack Obama did not know the top leaders of some of the closest U.S. allies were under surveillance. 
 
The White House has said the United States is no longer tapping German Chancellor Merkel’s cell phone and has promised to review NSA programs.

Watch related video
NSA Denies Spying on Millions of Europeansi
X
October 30, 2013 6:38 AM
The head of the National Security Agency, Army General Keith Alexander, is defending U.S. surveillance programs amid a wave of outrage across Europe. Alexander faced a mixed reaction from lawmakers on Capitol Hill at a House hearing Tuesday.

You May Like

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Rusty from: Canada
October 30, 2013 9:44 AM
This is going to backfire. The day will come (as it has in the past) when the USA will need a friend. Keep up the arrogant - ignorant attitude and see how many friends you have.

by: Ramnarayan from: Florida, USA
October 30, 2013 4:16 AM
NSA is out of control. Now it is no longer the terrorism, but we want to know the intent of tne foreign leaders. The Director of NSA is pathetic in his defense of spying. Let us not forget the other intelligence agencies who are doing the same. The Govt. has no business spying on law abiding citizens, period. One wonders whether we are still a democracy?

by: Florence X. Bottomburp from: UK
October 29, 2013 8:41 PM
The very epitome of propaganda, a video put out by the Department of Defense Youtube channel featuring calls by the NSA Director to limit journalism and expand spying has now achieved one of the highest known percentage of downvotes in Youtube history.The fact that the video has even been released shows how desperate the NSA and DoD are to repair their tarnished reputation. Ultimately, of course, they have and will continue to fail.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs