Reporting Meghan McCorkell
WASHINGTON (WJZ) — Anger is growing among the United States’ allies in Europe. They want President Barack Obama to stop the U.S. from spying on its leaders, including the Chancellor of Germany’s cell phone calls.
Meghan McCorkell has more on the controversial surveillance program.
U.S. officials got an earful from European representatives in Washington Monday, who say spying on their countries’ leaders is criminal.
A delegation of European diplomats arrived on Capitol Hill hoping to limit U.S. spying on their leaders.
“I think we have to make a clear distinction between fighting together terrorism but not spying on friends,” said Elmar Brok, a German member of the European Parliament.
Former National Security Administration contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents revealing the U.S. tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone and eavesdropped on more than 60 million private conversations in Spain in just one month.
“If you have the feeling that your closest ally is spying on you, then that’s difficult to talk to such an ally in an open way anymore,” Brok said.
“We care about our privacy, and mass surveillance is something we’re very disturbed by,” said Claude Moraes, a British member of the European Parliament.
President Obama steered clear of the controversy as he helped swear in his new FBI director, but the White House says U.S. intelligence gathering is “under review.”
Former State Department analyst James Lewis says the U.S. won’t stop the program, because in a post 9/11 world the information is too valuable.
“This makes us safer. Less surveillance means more successful attacks,” Lewis said.
The White House hopes to complete its surveillance review by the end of the year.
Leaks from former NSA employee Edward Snowden show the NSA listened to some 35 foreign leaders in all.
Right now, Washington is trying to negotiate a major trade deal with the European Union. If the spying controversy isn’t resolved, it could impact that economic deal.