International surveillance scandal brings criticism, response in US

by Dillon Mack news editor

Several countries voiced outrage as reports of the United States’ international spying records surfaced. As CNN reported, the leaks by Edward Snowden last June revealed that the United States has been monitoring the communications of several allied countries, including Germany, Brazil and Spain. Perhaps the most outspoken world leader in the American news has been German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who decried America’s eavesdropping of her own phone, according to CNN.

In a press conference, as reported by CNN in the same article, Merkel stated, “Spying among friends is never acceptable.” She further expressed that this realization has caused a severe shaking of the trust of the European Union, even so far as to risk trade agreements between the two countries. She went on in the press conference to state, “Obviously, words will not be sufficient … True change is necessary.”

In the United States, there have been differing responses to these international outcries from within different branches of the government. From within the National Security Agency (NSA), the agency against whom these allegations have been cited, there has generally been one response.

As reported by USA Today, Army General Keith Alexander, director of the NSA, defended the work that they have done, noting that they are saving the lives of U.S. servicemen as well as the lives of U.S. citizens. He went on to explain that the spying is not as rampant as it has been reported, and that the information spread was done so by someone who didn’t understand what they were looking at. He stated, “This is not information we collected on our European citizens. This is information collected by our NATO allies and shared with us in ongoing military operations which NATO participated.”

Whatever the source of the information, President Obama still had to face the firestorm coming from international leaders. However, as was confirmed by Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the president had no direct knowledge of this international intelligence gathering, according to CNN. Feinstein commented, “It is my understanding that President Obama was not aware Chancellor Merkel’s communications were being collected since 2002. That is a big problem.”

On Sunday, Oct. 27, Rep. Pete King, Republican from New York, commented that the president should stop apologizing for what the NSA has been doing, according to New York Daily News. He stated, “The reality is the NSA has saved thousands of lives not just in the United States but also in France, Germany and throughout Europe.”

However, both the White House and Feinstein have insured that these surveillance programs will be put under scrutiny, according to CNN. Speaking for the president, Press Secretary Jay Carney stated, “There are a number of efforts under way that are designed to increase transparency, to work with Congress to look at reforms to the Patriot Act, to look at ways that we can increase oversight and increase constraints on the authorities provided by these programs.”


This piece is considered a “standard” article in our print edition.
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