In the wake of revelations the U.S. spied on some of its closest partners, the head of the National Security Agency said Thursday he thinks some relationships with allies are more important in the fight against terrorism than the gathering of intelligence.
A week after reports the United States was spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and potentially 30 or more other heads of state, Gen. Keith Alexander said there may be more effective ways of gathering the intelligence Washington needs without jeopardizing crucial relationships with allies.
The global uproar over the National Security Agency's surveillance programs is prompting Congress to begin making some legal changes.
Most of the changes under way are focused on data collected on Americans, and little is expected to change in foreign intelligence collection.
The Senate Intelligence Committee approved a bill Thursday to make some limited changes to the law that governs the NSA's surveillance activities, focusing mostly on the program that gathers so-called metadata on nearly every call made by American telephone company customers. The data include the number called, and the time and length of the call, and are gathered under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
By CNN Staff
The House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday afternoon is questioning U.S. spy chiefs about accusations that the National Security Agency has tapped not only the phone calls of millions of Americans, but those of top U.S. allies.
Tuesday's hearing, billed as a discussion of potential changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, comes amid claims, reported last week by German magazine Der Spiegel, that the NSA monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone.
It's the latest in a series of spying allegations that stem from disclosures given to news organizations by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who describes himself as a whistle-blower. Comments by President Barack Obama's administration claiming that he did not know of the practice until recently have drawn criticism from both the right and the left.FULL STORY
By CNN Staff
The House Intelligence Committee is set to question U.S. spy chiefs about accusations that the National Security Agency has tapped not only the phone calls of millions of Americans, but those of top U.S. allies.
Among those on the hot seat will be Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
Germany's interior minister said Monday that his country's confidence in the United States is shaken, amid claims the NSA monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone.
"If the Americans intercepted cell phones in Germany, they broke German law on German soil," Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, adding that he wants "complete information on all accusations."
"The confidence in our ally, U.S.A., is shaken," Friedrich said, according to Bild am Sonntag.FULL STORY
By Evan Perez
The Obama administration declassified a new batch of National Security Agency documents on Monday, many of which deal with the effort to inform members of Congress about NSA programs that collect call data on nearly every U.S. telephone user.
The documents released by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper date mostly to 2009, when the administration was pushing lawmakers to reauthorize sections of the Patriot Act that were set to expire.
One document from 2011, notifies the House and Senate intelligence and judiciary committees, of the NSA's testing in 2010-11 of a program to collect cell phone tower data that could track mobile phone users. The NSA earlier this month acknowledged it tested such collection but discontinued it.
By Al Goodman and David Simpson
The release of further allegations of National Security Agency surveillance efforts caused the Spanish government to summon the U.S. ambassador Monday, and The Wall Street Journal reported that the White House ordered a halt to some eavesdropping on foreign leaders after learning of it this summer.
Quoting unidentified U.S. officials, the newspaper's website said the wiretapping of about 35 foreign leaders was disclosed to the White House as part of a review of surveillance programs ordered by President Barack Obama after NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified information on the NSA's phone monitoring systems.
The White House ordered a halt to the monitoring of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and unspecified other leaders, the newspaper reported. The Journal report did not specify who gave the shutdown order or the date it was issued.FULL STORY
By CNN's Kevin Liptak
The NSA is denying a report in a German newspaper that the agency’s chief – Gen. Keith Alexander-had informed President Obama in 2010 about the monitoring of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone.
NSA spokeswoman Vanee’ Vines told CNN: "Gen. Alexander did not discuss with President Obama in 2010 an alleged foreign intelligence operation involving German Chancellor Merkel, nor has he ever discussed alleged operations involving Chancellor Merkel. News reports claiming otherwise are not true."
By CNN's Jaosn Seher
The House Intelligence chief emphatically told CNN's Candy Crowley on Sunday that the NSA's foreign intelligence gathering operations keep allies "safe."
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, said on CNN's "State of the Union" that the vision being presented to the American public of a nation spying on its closest allies does not jibe with reality. According to Rogers, the U.S. counterterror operation abroad "keeps the French safe."
European leaders warned Friday that reports of widespread spying on world leaders by the U.S. National Security Agency have raised "deep concerns" among Europeans and could affect the cooperation needed for effective intelligence gathering.
"A lack of trust could prejudice the necessary cooperation in the field," the leaders said in a joint statement issued at the conclusion of a two-day European Union summit in Brussels, Belgium.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that Madrid has summoned U.S. Ambassador James Costos over the matter. The U.S. Embassy in Madrid declined to comment, saying that Rajoy's statement stands for itself.