In a refreshingly blunt but sadly anonymous admission, someone in the Obama administration is basically admitting that the US will continue spying on its allies, despite the diplomatic uproar it’s been causing. The admission came in response to Senator Dianne Feinstein, who suggested over the weekend that the National Security Agency has stopped monitoring its allies’ phones.
“The statement that ‘…collection on our allies will not continue…’ is not accurate,” a senior administration official told BuzzFeed. “While we have made some individual changes, which I cannot detail, we have not made across the board changes in policy like, for example, terminating intelligence collection that might be aimed at all allies.”
How’s that for defiant? There’s no gray area there, no intentional room left for obfuscation. That’s just a flat out admission that this is what the NSA does, it’s going to keep doing it, and if you don’t like it, tough luck. A similarly anonymous official told the same thing to Talking Points Memo.
After it was reported in September that the NSA monitored communications of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, word got out last week that the NSA had tapped the phones of 35 world leaders, including allies like German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Feinstein, who’s defended the NSA’s surveillance practices in the past, called the new revelations unacceptable, and said that “[t]he White House has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue.”
The White House may well have told her this. But these latest reports are accurate, they weren’t telling her the truth.