Scandal in Washington continues as recent reports exposed The White House’s and State Department’s approval of spying on allied foreign leaders.
Der Spiegel, a German news magazine, reported last week that the NSA’s Special Collection Service has been monitoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel since 2002. Der Spiegel cited documents from former NSA contractor and now exiled leaker Edward Snowden in its reports. President Obama assured Merkel he was not informed of this, though recent statements reveal that both the State Department and White House were aware of the phone-tapping.
According to the LA Times, Obama may not have been directly informed, though one of the officials reports that “certainly the National Security Council and senior people across the intelligence community knew exactly what was going on, and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous.”
Ranking officials in Washington are not pleased with these recent revelations. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, provided a statement regarding the spying controversies and hacking of allied foreign leaders’ phones.
“I am totally opposed” she said. “Unless the United States is engaged in hostilities against a country or there is an emergency need for this type of surveillance, I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers.”
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), member of the Armed Services Committee, told reporters in Chicago, “Obviously, we’re going to want to know exactly what the President knew and when he knew it. We have always eavesdropped on people around the world. But the advance of technology has given us enormous capabilities, and I think you might make an argument that some of this capability has been very offensive both to us and our allies.”
While the U.S. attempts to recover relations with Germany, Merkel openly displayed her anger.
“We need trust among allies and partners. Such trust now has to be built anew. This is what we have to think about,” she told reporters Thursday, according to The Guardian.
Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian prime minister, articulated his views that such surveillance activities must come to an end.
“There is no reason to spy on Angela Merkel. It’s a real scandal. A new agreement is needed between the EU and the US; this cannot continue,” said Verhofstadt.
Recent reports state that Germany and the U.S. are expected to strike a deal to put a halt to each others’ spying, according to The Guardian.
Information from Der Spiegel, The Guardian, and the LA Times was used in this report.