Senate intelligence committee chair Dianne Feinstein, who has been a loyal defender of the NSA, demands a ‘total’ surveillance review
The chair of the Senate intelligence committee, who has been a loyal defender of the National Security Agency, dramatically broke ranks on Monday, saying she was “totally opposed” to the US spying on allies and demanding a total review of all surveillance programs.
California Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein strongly criticised the NSA’s monitoring of the calls of friendly world leaders such as German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Feinstein, who has steadfastly defended the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, added that both Barack Obama and members of her committee, which is supposed to received classified briefings, had been kept in the dark about operations to target foreign leaders.
“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,” Feinstein said in a statement to reporters.
“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.
“With respect to NSA collection of intelligence on leaders of US allies – including France, Spain, Mexico and Germany – let me state unequivocally: I am totally opposed,” she said..
Feinstein also provided the first official confirmation of a German report that indicated Merkel’s phone had been monitored for more than a decade. “It is my understanding that President Obama was not aware Chancellor Merkel’s communications were being collected since 2002,” Feinstein said. “That is a big problem.”
The senator’s dramatic intervention comes as the White House struggles to contain the diplomatic fallout from a series of revelations about the NSA’s spy operations abroad. They include a report in the Guardian, based on documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, that at least 35 world leaders have been monitored by the agency.