NSA: We Didn't Spy on Europeans; Europe Did

Alexander refutes recent reports about US snooping overseas

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 29, 2013 5:44 PM CDT

(Newser) – Residents of Spain, France and elsewhere in Europe are outraged over reports that the NSA spied on millions of phone calls there. Turns out, it wasn't the NSA that collected all that phone information—it was the Europeans' own governments, reports the Los Angeles Times. The recent news reports, based on Edward Snowden revelations, suggested that the NSA was collecting "metadata" in Europe without informing US allies. But now US officials say that the spy agencies in those countries did the snooping and then shared the data with the NSA, reports the Washington Post.

The earlier reports are "completely false," NSA chief Keith Alexander said during Capitol Hill testimony today. “This is not information that we collected on European citizens,” he told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Alexander said Snowden and his collaborating reporters "did not understand what they were looking at." Meanwhile, national intelligence chief James Clapper downplayed concerns over the US spying on Angela Merkel and other foreign leaders in part because other countries do the same, reports AP. "It is one of the first things I learned in intelligence school in 1963,” Clapper said, as quoted by the New York Times. “It’s a fundamental given.”

From left, Deputy NSA chief Chris Inglis, NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Deputy Attorney General James Cole.
From left, Deputy NSA chief Chris Inglis, NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Deputy Attorney General James Cole.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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