Sunday

19th Nov 2017

US to 'review' spying activities amid European outrage

US President Barack Obama is calling for a review of his intelligence services, with their spying activities having caused an unprecedented rift with EU allies.

Speaking to ABC News on Monday (28 October), Obama refused to give details on how much he knew about the illegal spying carried out by the National Security Agency and revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Obama orders another review into NSA spying (Photo: White House)

"We give them policy direction," he said.

"But what we've seen over the last several years is their capacities continue to develop and expand, and that's why I'm initiating now a review to make sure that what they're able to do doesn't necessarily mean what they should be doing," Obama said.

It is the second review he has ordered this year, following the publication of NSA documents leaked by Snowden.

His comments come after Germany, France and Spain summoned the respective US ambassadors in their countries over revelations that the NSA engages in mass surveillance and has tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone.

A delegation of seven MEPs has also travelled to Washington this week to seek explanations about the spying scandal.

"It is not acceptable, for example, this espionage on Chancellor Merkel and others since more than 10 years," said German centre-right MEP Elmar Brok, who chairs the foreign affairs committee in the European Parliament and is member of the delegation to Washington.

Brok told AFP that eavesdropping on the German administration "is in breach of German law."

Meanwhile, the US Senate is also ordering a "major review" of spy operations.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a member of Obama's Democratic Party who chairs the intelligence committee in the upper chamber, said the Senate was kept in the dark by the NSA.

"With respect to NSA collection of intelligence on leaders of US allies -- including France, Spain, Mexico and Germany -- let me state unequivocally: I am totally opposed," Feinstein said.

In her view, it would be a "big problem" if Obama had not been made informed that Merkel's calls were being monitored, saying "the president should be required to approve any collection of this sort."

"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," Feinstein said.

The heads of US intelligence services, including the NSA, will appear before her committee on Tuesday and testify in a public hearing.

Merkel to seek intelligence rule book with US

France and Germany plan to negotiate an agreement on the work of intelligence agencies with the US, as the latest revelations of US snooping dominated day one of the EU's October summit.

MEPs ponder how to fight tax havens

After the Paradise Papers brought new revelations about tax dodging across the globe, including in the EU, the European Parliament wonders how to step up the fight.

News in Brief

  1. Bonn climate talks extend into Friday evening
  2. UK needs to move on Brexit by early December, Tusk says
  3. Puigdemont extradition decision postponed to December
  4. Ireland wants written UK guarantees to avoid hard border
  5. US did not obstruct climate talks, says German minister
  6. EU signs social declaration
  7. Puigdemont to be heard by Belgian judges
  8. Steep fall in migrants reaching EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  2. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  4. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  5. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  6. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  9. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  10. World Vision20 November: Exchange of Views at the EP on Children Affected by the Syria Crisis
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  12. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy

Latest News

  1. EU keeps former Soviet states at arm's length
  2. EU leaders make pledge on social issues after populist backlash
  3. EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK
  4. Germany slams Dutch call for more ambitious EU climate goal
  5. Mind the gap: inequality in our cities
  6. Climate activists 'disappointed' with EU at climate talks
  7. Davis outlines UK vision on Brexit in Berlin
  8. German coalition talks in near collapse