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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid