02-19-2017  1:30 pm      •     
McMenamins

(CNN) -- 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.

White House: Reviewing surveillance of allies

Responding to the report for the White House, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden did not directly address surveillance of foreign leaders. Instead, she described the ongoing review as "including when it comes to our closest foreign partners and allies."

Merkel said last week that reports of American spying on her and other leaders had "severely shaken" relationships between the United States and European nations.

The German leader said she told Obama last week that eavesdropping among friends "is never acceptable." The White House said at the time that Merkel's communications were not being monitored -- without saying whether she had been targeted in the past.

Should the president know wiretap details?

The officials quoted by The Wall Street Journal said it was understandable that Obama did not know about the phone tapping of Merkel and other leaders for nearly five years of his presidency. Because the NSA has so many eavesdropping programs, it would not have listed all of them for the president, according to the officials.

"The president doesn't sign off on this stuff," one official was quoted as saying. But the official said that policy was under review, the Journal reported.

The Journal report said some surveillance of foreign leaders continues, and surveillance of others is being phased out.

NSA denies chief told Obama about Merkel tap

Separately, the NSA on Sunday denied a report by the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that NSA Director Keith Alexander told Obama about the surveillance of Merkel in 2010.

"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," NSA spokeswoman Vanee' Vines told CNN.

German intelligence officials are scheduled to meet with their American counterparts in Washington this week to ask about surveillance programs.

Other news media reports, based on documents leaked by Snowden, have said the NSA monitored the communications of the leaders of Brazil and Mexico.

Germany and Brazil are drafting a United Nations resolution on privacy in electronic communication, officials in those countries said last week.

Report: NSA monitored 60 million Spanish calls in 30 days

The Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported Monday that the NSA collected data from 60 million phone calls in Spain in one 30-day period.

One of the authors of the El Mundo article was Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who first reported on documents supplied by Snowden for the British newspaper The Guardian.

The El Mundo article cited what it said was an NSA report titled, "Spain -- last 30 days." The 60 million calls were not recorded, but the NSA collected serial numbers of devices, phone numbers, locations and durations of calls, the newspaper said.

Even before the latest report, the Spanish government had summoned U.S. Ambassador James Costos to a meeting Monday in Madrid. That followed a report by another Spanish newspaper, El Pais, that quoted unnamed sources as saying the NSA spied on Spanish officials and politicians.

A Spanish Foreign Ministry statement said Monday that the government "conveyed to the United States the importance of preserving a climate of confidence" in bilateral relations. It's important to know that "some practices, which if they are true, are inappropriate and unacceptable between partners and friendly nations," the statement said.

A statement by Costos repeated the administration's past statements that the surveillance policies are under review. It said the policies have "played a critical role in protecting citizens of the United States" and played "an instrumental role in our coordination with our allies and in protecting their interests as well."

"We will continue to confer with our allies, such as Spain, through our regular diplomatic channels to address the concerns that they have raised," the Costos statement said. "Ultimately, the United States needs to balance the important role that these programs play in protecting our national security and protecting the security of our allies with legitimate privacy concerns."

The French daily newspaper Le Monde reported last week on claims that the NSA intercepted more than 70 million phone calls in France in 30 days. That report did not specify whether the calls were recorded or whether the interceptions were limited to data about calls.

CNN's Al Goodman contributed reporting to this story from Madrid, Spain. It was written by CNN's David Simpson and Tom Cohen.

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

 

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all