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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' 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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs