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.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    What Your First Name Says About Who You Support for President

    Bobby, Betty and Curtis tend to support Donald Trump while people named Juan, Liz or Mohammad are more likely to lean toward Hillary Clinton

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    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?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora