The National Security Agency is reportedly reeling from comments made by Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Dianne Feinstein — one of the agency’s staunchest defenders — in the wake of revelations that the NSA spied on foreign leaders, including German chancellor Angela Merkel.
“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 in a statement Monday. “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.
“It is my understanding that President Obama was not aware Chancellor Merkel’s communications were being collected since 2002,” Feinstein continued. “That is a big problem.”
According to Foreign Policy magazine, Feinstein’s public reversal shocked at least one NSA official.