News / USA

    Report: US May Have Bugged Merkel Phone Since '02

    VOA News
    The U.S. National Security Agency may have bugged German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone for more than 10 years, according to a news report Saturday by the German weekly Der Spiegel.
     
    Der Spiegel also cited a source in Merkel's office saying U.S. President Barack Obama apologized to the German leader when she called him this past Wednesday to seek clarification on the issue.
     
    A Merkel spokesman and the White House declined comment.
     
    Germany plans to send its intelligence chiefs to Washington in the coming days to seek answers on the spying allegations.
     
    Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that show sweeping U.S. surveillance on Internet searches and telephone records of ordinary citizens and world leaders have sparked outrage globally.
     
    Germany is also working with Brazil on a draft United Nations General Assembly resolution to guarantee people's privacy in electronic communications. U.N. diplomats say it would call for extending the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to Internet activities, but would not mention the United States.

    As many as 1,000 demonstrators rallied Saturday outside the U.S. Capitol against NSA spying, demanding an end to mass surveillance of individuals.
     
    President Obama has ordered a review of U.S. surveillance programs after Snowden leaked the NSA secrets.
     
    Former CIA deputy director Michael Morrell said in a television interview to be broadcast Sunday that Snowden's leaks are "the most serious compromise of classified information in the history of the U.S. intelligence community."
     
    Morrell told CBS television's 60 Minutes the most damaging leaked document was the so-called Black Budget, detailing where the U.S. spends its money on intelligence efforts. 
     
    Morrell said Snowden has put Americans at greater risk "because terrorists learn from leaks and they will be more careful," and the country will not get the intelligence it would have gotten otherwise.
     
    The Washington Post reported Friday U.S. officials are warning some foreign intelligence services that documents obtained by Snowden detail their secret cooperation with Washington.

    Charges shake US alliances
     
    Germany's leader has said trust between her country and the United States, a close ally, needs to be rebuilt, and French President Francois Hollande has also been a vocal critic of the NSA's gathering phone and email records.
     
    But it's not just European leaders who object to the alleged spying.
     
    Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has revealed classified documents that show as many as 35 world leaders' cell phones were tapped.
     
    Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff canceled a state visit to Washington and condemned the U.S. in a speech to the United Nations in September, saying "the safety of a citizen of one country should not be guaranteed by the violation of human and civil rights which are fundamental to citizens of another country."
     
    While many countries spy on each other, Scheherazade Rehman, head of George Washington University's European Union Center, says this situation is unusual.
     
    "These kinds of things go on between countries, but to have it so overtly splashed on the front pages is something that outrages most countries, I think."
     
    Rehman does not foresee a long-term chill in U.S. relations with its allies, but she says the NSA will need to change some procedures.
     
    "I think specifically targeting information that we are going after, as opposed to a general gathering of information, that needs to be discussed."
     
    NSA Director Keith Alexander said recently that despite the public objections, many U.S. allies tell him they welcome the intelligence gathering.
     
    "Here is what I get: 'Keep working with us — the intelligence you get us to defend our country is what we really need,'" he said.
     
    But State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday that the issue has complicated America's relations with its allies, and "created significant challenges in our relationships with some of our partners, and has been, of course, a public distraction, as you even saw over the last couple of days."
     
    The challenges in those relationships will also be a challenge to policymakers in Washington, who are reluctant to give up any weapon in the fight against terrorism.

    VOA correspondent Kent Klein contribued to this report, and some information was provided by AFP.

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    Comments
         
    by: Roland from: Netherlands
    October 28, 2013 8:18 AM
    So why isn't there a European NSA spying on the U.S. and recording all there communucations instead of the other way around? Talk about a failure of European intelligence agencies they are supposed to know if a foreign power is spying on there leaders mobile phones and recording communications.They look like a bunch of clowns.European leaders need to grow up and protect us European citizens that is the most important thing for governments to do.Americans don't need to know what porn sites I visit.

    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    October 28, 2013 1:13 AM
    "Here is what I get: 'Keep working with us — the intelligence you get us to defend our country is what we really need,'"

    If possible Who did get him it? I guess Japanese and Korean officials did.

    by: Dr. Q. L. Liverfart from: UK
    October 26, 2013 7:22 PM
    The NSA’s vast wiretapping and surveillance operation, in addition to the agency’s attempt to intimidate the media and whistleblowers from releasing information about programs such as PRISM, has has virtually nothing to do with catching terrorists and everything to do with creating a chilling effect that dissuades the free press from exposing government corruption while making Americans fearful of engaging in political free speech.

    The myth that blanket NSA spying is primarily concerned with catching terrorists, or that terrorists will be aided by people like Edward Snowden blowing the whistle on the PRISM program, has been debunked by numerous experts.

    Firstly, the threat posed to Americans by terrorism is grossly exaggerated and overhyped. Americans are more likely to be killed by toddlers than terrorists. Intestinal illnesses, allergic reactions to peanuts, bee stings, drowning in the bath, or accident-causing deer all individually pose a greater threat to Americans than terrorists. So the whole debate about sacrificing privacy for security is a total fraud to begin with.

    “The terrorists have already known that we’ve been doing this for years, so there’s no surprise there. They’re not going to change the way they operate just because it comes out in the U.S. press. I mean, the point is, they already knew it, and they were operating the way they would operate anyway. So, the point is that they’re—we’re not—the government here is not trying to protect it from the terrorists; it’s trying to protect it, that knowledge of that program, from the citizens of the United States,” said Binney.

    This sentiment was echoed by top counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke, who remarked, “The argument that this sweeping search must be kept secret from the terrorists is laughable. Terrorists already assume this sort of thing is being done. Only law-abiding American citizens were blissfully ignorant of what their government was doing.”


    The reason for the persecution of whistleblowers and media outlets who leak evidence of government wrongdoing is to intimidate the free press and make them less likely to publish information about government corruption for fear of legal reprisals.


    As Thomas Drake, former senior NSA executive and a decorated Air Force and Navy veteran remarks, the government is incensed at Snowden and the media outlets who carried his story because Snowden exposed how the NSA is acting in “direct violation of the fourth amendment of the US constitution,” and how the NSA is “subverting the constitution.”

    Despite the fact that whistleblowers are helping to expose wrongdoing in government – and the polls show they are supported by the majority of the American people – the Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other presidents combined.

    As all the experts agree, this isn’t being done to protect America from terrorists, it is being done to intimidate insiders from coming forward and speaking out against government corruption in the fear that they will end up like Bradley Manning – locked away in solitary confinement for years.


    The NSA’s huge illegal dragnet also has an additional consequence – implanting a seed of doubt in the minds of average Americans seeking to exercise their first amendment right to criticize the government. Could they become a target of blanket surveillance and wiretapping?
    The Obama administration’s war on whistleblowers and the NSA and other federal agency’s role in spying on reporters and average Americans has nothing to do with stopping terrorists and everything to do with intimidating the media, creating a chilling effect that makes insiders who have clear evidence of government corruption far less likely to go public, and making Americans think twice before they criticize the government or exercise their constitutional rights.

    by: Rob Swift from: Great Britain
    October 26, 2013 6:35 PM
    If Mr.Cameron and his British government want information in this country don't they get the American government to collect it and then buy the information from America?

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