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Feinstein Won’t Approve of Spying on Leaders Without Being ‘Engaged in Hostilities’ First

China and Russia too? “The White House has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue," Intelligence chairwoman says.

by
Bridget Johnson

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October 28, 2013 - 5:23 pm
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WASHINGTON — The chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said the U.S. shouldn’t be spying on leaders of any country unless America is “engaged in hostilities” against it.

The staunch opponent of NSA leaker Edward Snowden in the wake of the first batch of revelations about collection of telephone metadata on Americans also said after the latest revelations about listening in on phones of world leaders that she’s launching a “major review” into collection programs.

Presumably the cessation of spying would also include China and Russia, with whom the U.S. is not at war.

“It is abundantly clear that a total review of all intelligence programs is necessary so that members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are fully informed as to what is actually being carried out by the intelligence community,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

“Unlike NSA’s collection of phone records under a court order, it is clear to me that certain surveillance activities have been in effect for more than a decade and that the Senate Intelligence Committee was not satisfactorily informed,” she added. “Therefore our oversight needs to be strengthened and increased.”

Feinstein and her Republican vice-chairman, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), stood by the intelligence community and the Obama administration after Snowden’s initial leaks, saying that the former NSA contractor was harming national security and defending the NSA’s activities as vital.

“With respect to NSA collection of intelligence on leaders of U.S. allies—including France, Spain, Mexico and Germany—let me state unequivocally: I am totally opposed,” Feinstein said today.

“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. The president should be required to approve any collection of this sort.”

German newspaper Bild am Sonntag claimed that President Obama had ordered the continuation and escalation of the bugging of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s private phone, including the collection of text messages, and that NSA leader Keith Alexander told Obama about the operation in 2010. Bild said sources revealed the program began under President Bush to monitor Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

The NSA pushed back against that report, saying in a statement that 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. News reports claiming otherwise are not true.”

“It is my understanding that President Obama was not aware Chancellor Merkel’s communications were being collected since 2002. That is a big problem,” Feinstein said.

“The White House has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue, which I support,” she added. “But as far as I’m concerned, Congress needs to know exactly what our intelligence community is doing. To that end, the committee will initiate a major review into all intelligence collection programs.”

But White House officials quickly told media off the record that no changes have been decided as the administration reviews intelligence collection policies around the world.

The NSA chief along with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Deputy Attorney General James Cole will testify in an open hearing on potential FISA changes Tuesday before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

At today’s White House press briefing, spokesman Jay Carney was asked about a Wall Street Journal report that said Obama didn’t learn about the tapping of Merkel’s phone until this summer.

“I’m not going to get into details of internal discussions. But the president clearly feels strongly about making sure that we are not just collecting information because we can, but because we should. And I noted the other day a readout from a phone call the president had with Chancellor Merkel made clear that we do not and will not monitor the chancellor’s communications,” Carney said.

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All Comments   (22)
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She DOES support spying on LEGAL firearm owners though.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment

The other shoe has not dropped yet, which is the NSA and agencies were spying for economic and trade advantage during trade meetings and UN gatherings. This information was passed to US and Foreign companies to provide illegal advantage for their trade contracts and negotiations.
Besides the fact our government is prostituting itself to corporate interests using terrorism as cover, is overwhelming amount of raw data being gathered with no legal justification; Every phone call, fax, text, post, blog, etc is recorded and stored for processing at a later date. This is breach of liberty and freedom with no holds barred.
For any Senator to pretend shock and surprise because it now involves foreign leaders is hypocrisy at best and indicates far worse revelations coming.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"'With respect to NSA collection of intelligence on leaders of U.S. allies—including France, Spain, Mexico and Germany—let me state unequivocally: I am totally opposed,' Feinstein said today."

But it's perfectly OK to spy on all Americans?

Why is it wrong to spy on the leaders of allied governments, but not a problem when the government spies on American citizens? Feinstein is nothing but an elitist who believes that the serfs should have no rights, whatsoever. She would be more at home in the old Soviet Union.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I would hope we're collecting intelligence on foreign governments because you can bet your sweet bippie they are collecting intelligence on us. World politics ain't beanbag, Di.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
DiFi is rapidly approaching (descending to) the Boxer level of brick-dom.
Between our two "Senators", and the ever illuminating "Moonbeam", CA once more shows the nation what its future holds.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, that's good to know where we stand in light of NSA: Americans are enemies of the state.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Does this mean The Wrecking Ball In Chief is going to stop spying on Israel? That'll be the day. Of course, per this administration, we are in a state of hostilities with Israel, of an offensive nature.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ok, then DiFi, its time to send Obama to "time out."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Convenient. Take the high ground. Announce " correct" attitude for The photo or whatever opportunity for attention In THE event that the secret is out.

And we assume the usual defense, excuse, get out of jail free cord of our admirable, principled, law-abiding legislators, judges and executives of the Democratic and friends persuasion is at hand.

That olde tyme serviceable "I didn't know". From members of the legal fraternity "defenders and guardians of the Law" - oath to Uphold and Defend - who ARE SUPPOSED TO KNOW. Why else given life-time tenure and royal status and perks?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"I was never briefed on; Take your pick.... the "enhanced interrogations" , the "drone strikes",Fannie or Freddies collapse. I'm SHOCKED, SHOCKED I TELL YOU, gambling at RICKS???? The D.C. Clown Car vomits yet another strap-holder onto the public. SIGH
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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