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U.S. Senator Opposes NSA Spying On Allies

The National Security Agency (NSA) in Fort Meade, Maryland.

The National Security Agency (NSA) in Fort Meade, Maryland.

U.S. Senator Tells NSA To Stop Listening In On Allies

The head of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee said she is "totally opposed" to the collection of intelligence on U.S. allies by the National Security Agency.

Dianne Feinstein issued the statement on October 28 after reports that the NSA had bugged German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone and eavesdropped on the communications of other foreign leaders.

Feinstein has defended some of the NSA programs leaked to the media by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, arguing that they play an important role in the fight against global terrorism. But the California Democrat said the surveillance of foreign leaders was different.

She said the White House had told her that such collection of information from allies would not continue.

But she said the Senate intelligence panel would begin "a major review" into all of the collection programs.

President Barack Obama said in an interview with the U.S. cable network Fusion on October 28 that technology for eavesdropping on phone conversations and monitoring the Internet has leaped ahead in recent years and will continue to do so, which is why he is ordering a review of policy to ensure there is no abuse of monitoring practices.

"I'm the final user of all the intelligence that they gather, but they're involved in a whole wide range of issues," Obama said. "And we give them policy direction. But what we've seen over the last several years is their capacity has continued to develop and expand, and that's why I'm initiating now a review to make sure what they are able to do doesn't necessarily mean what they should be doing."

Obama's comment came after Spain summoned the U.S. ambassador to discuss allegations of spying on Spanish citizens that it said could damage the climate of trust between the two countries, if proved true.

The Spanish newspaper "El Mundo" has reported that the NSA had recently tracked over 60 million calls in Spain over one month, citing a document obtained from Snowden.

European allies demanding answers from the Obama administration on its intelligence-gathering practices included Germany, Spain, France, and Italy.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP