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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid