News / USA

US Officials Defend Surveillance of Allies

US Officials Defend Surveillance of Alliesi
X
July 03, 2013 11:29 PM
Allegations that the United States has been eavesdropping on some its European and Asian allies have created an international uproar. U.S. President Barack Obama and some former top officials are defending the U.S. surveillance as important for national security. But European lawmakers and officials are demanding an explanation and say relations may be damaged. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at why countries spy on their allies.
Cindy Saine
Allegations that the United States has been eavesdropping on some its European and Asian allies have created an international uproar. U.S. President Barack Obama and some former top officials are defending the U.S. surveillance as important for national security. But European lawmakers and officials are demanding an explanation and say relations may be damaged.

The National Security Agency [NSA] is at the heart of allegations by the former contractor Edward Snowden that the United States has targeted some of its allies for surveillance.  

The German news magazine Der Spiegel reports the NSA eavesdropped on European Union offices in Washington, New York and Brussels, and that it has intercepted some half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany alone.  

James Bamford has written several book on the NSA. He explains why Germany was a target.

“The interest in Germany would be economic, since it is the economic powerhouse in Europe, and political, because whatever happens in Europe pretty much goes through Germany at one point or another, it is being discussed in Germany,” said Bamford.

Bamford also pointed out that two of the September 11 hijackers studied in Hamburg, Germany.  

German officials have expressed outrage at the revelations. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

''We are countries which are friends. There cannot be any justification with security aspects. At this point, clarification is urgently needed," he said.

During his recent visit to Tanzania, Obama said that European and Asian intelligence services are also trying to pry information from sources that are not open.

"I guarantee you that in European capitals, there are people who are interested in, if not what I had for breakfast, at least what my talking points might be should I end up meeting with their leaders," said Obama.

Former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden told the CBS program Face the Nation that Snowden's disclosures will hurt U.S. intelligence sharing with its allies.

“Look, we cooperate with a lot of governments around the world. They expect us to be discrete about that cooperation. I cannot imagine a government anywhere on the planet who now believes we can keep a secret,” he said.

NSA’s access and technical capabilities, however, dwarf those of other countries, said author Bamford.

“The United States has the equivalent of a nuclear weapon in terms of eavesdropping. I mean we are armed with nuclear eavesdropping capabilities, basically, compared with the rest of the world."

Some European experts say Obama will have to do more than deliver speeches to calm the furor over privacy rights, especially as negotiations are set to start next week on a major new free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union.

You May Like

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid