WASHINGTON (AP) — Faced with a flood of revelations about U.S. spying practices, the White House is considering ending its eavesdropping on friendly foreign leaders, a senior administration official said.
A final decision has not been made and the move is still under review, the official said. But the fact that it is even being considered underscores the level of concern within the administration over the possible damage from the months-long spying scandal — including the most recent disclosure that the National Security Agency was monitoring the communications of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
On Monday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called for a "total review of all intelligence programs" following the Merkel allegations. In a statement, the California Democrat said the White House had informed her that "collection on our allies will not continue."
The administration official said that statement was not accurate, but added that some unspecified changes already had been made and more were being considered, including terminating the collection of communications from friendly heads of state.
The official was not authorized to discuss the review by name and insisted on anonymity.
Reports based on new leaks from former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden indicate that the NSA listened to Merkel and 34 other foreign leaders.
"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. She added that the U.S. should not be "collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers" unless in an emergency with approval of the president.
In response to the revelations, German officials said Monday that the U.S. could lose access to an important law enforcement tool used to track terrorist money flows. Other longtime allies have also expressed their displeasure about the U.S. spying on their leaders.
As possible leverage, German authorities cited last week's non-binding resolution by the European Parliament to suspend a post-9/11 agreement allowing the Americans access to bank transfer data to track the flow of terrorist money. A top German official said Monday she believed the Americans were using the information to gather economic intelligence apart from terrorism and said the agreement, known as the SWIFT agreement, should be suspended.
European Union officials who are in Washington to meet with lawmakers ahead of White House talks said U.S. surveillance of their people could affect negotiations over a U.S.-Europe trade agreement. They said European privacy must be better protected.
Many officials in Germany and other European governments have made clear, however, that they don't favor suspending the U.S.-EU trade talks which began last summer because both sides stand to gain so much through the proposed deal, especially against competition from China and other emerging markets.
As tensions with European allies escalate, the top U.S. intelligence official declassified dozens of pages of top-secret documents in an apparent bid to show the NSA was acting legally when it gathered millions of Americans' phone records.
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said he was following the president's direction to make public as much information as possible about how U.S. intelligence agencies spy under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Monday's release of documents focused on Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the bulk collection of U.S. phone records.
The document release is part of an administration-wide effort to preserve the NSA's ability to collect bulk data, which it says is key to tracking key terror suspects, but which privacy activists say is a breach of the Constitution's ban on unreasonable search and seizure of evidence from innocent Americans.
The release of the documents comes ahead of a House Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday on FISA reform.
The documents support administration testimony that the NSA worked to operate within the law and fix errors when they or their systems overreached. One of the documents shows the NSA admitting to the House Intelligence Committee that one of its automated systems picked up too much telephone metadata. The February 2009 document indicates the problem was fixed.
Another set of documents shows the judges of the FISA court seemed satisfied with the NSA's cooperation. It says that in September 2009, the NSA advised the Senate Intelligence Committee about its continuing collection of Americans' phone records and described a series of demonstrations and briefings it conducted for three judges on the secretive U.S. spy court. The memorandum said the judges were "engaged throughout and asked questions, which were answered by the briefers and other subject matter experts," and said the judges appreciated the amount and quality of information the NSA provided.
It said that two days later, one of the judges, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, renewed the court's permission to resume collecting phone records.
The documents also included previously classified testimony from 2009 for the House Intelligence Committee by Michael Leiter, then head of the National Counterterrorism Center. He and other officials said collecting Americans' phone records helped indict Najibullah Zazi, who was accused in a previously disclosed 2009 terror plot to bomb the New York City subways.
The documents also show the NSA considered tracking targets using cellphone location data, and according to an April 2011 memo consulted the Justice Department first, which said such collection was legal. Only later did the NSA inform the FISA court of the testing.
NSA commander Gen. Keith Alexander revealed the testing earlier this month to Congress but said the agency did not use the capability to track Americans' cellphone locations nor deem it necessary right now.
Asked Monday whether the NSA intelligence gathering had been used not only to protect national security but American economic interests as well, White House spokesman Jay Carney said: "We do not use our intelligence capabilities for that purpose. We use it for security purposes."
National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden later clarified that: "We do not use our intelligence capabilities to give U.S. companies an advantage, not ruling out that we are interested in economic information."
Still, he acknowledged the tensions with allies over the eavesdropping disclosures and said the White House was "working to allay those concerns," though he refused to discuss any specific reports or provide details of internal White House discussions.
Associated Press writers Ted Bridis and Jack Gillum in Washington, Frank Jordan, Geir Moulson and Robert H. Reid in Berlin, Juergen Baetz in Brussels, Ciaran Giles, Jorge Sainz and Alan Clendenning in Madrid and Sarah DiLorenzo in Paris contributed to this report.
MOSCOW (AP) — The father of former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden arrived in Moscow Thursday morning to meet with his son who has received asylum in Russia and has been living at a secret location.
Lon Snowden told Russian television outside Moscow's airport that he doubts his son, Edward Snowden, will return to the United States, where he is charged with violating the Espionage Act for disclosing NSA's highly classified surveillance of phone and Internet usage around the world.
"I'm not sure that my son will be returning to the U.S. again," Lon Snowden said but added that "that's his decision." He also said he has not had direct contact with his son and would not say when or where he will be meeting him.
Edward Snowden was stuck at a Moscow airport for more than a month after his arrival from Hong Kong on June 23. He was granted asylum in Russia in August. His whereabouts remain secret although his lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, insists that Snowden lives in Russia.
Lon Snowden said that it is his understanding that his son has now stopped leaking information.
He thanked Russia and President Vladimir Putin for sheltering his son.
Edward Snowden's asylum status has strained the already tense relationship between the U.S. and Russia, and President Barack Obama called off a meeting with President Putin at a Russia-hosted summit in September.
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A Brazilian television report that aired Sunday night said Canadian spies targeted Brazil's Mines and Energy Ministry.
The report on Globo television was based on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and was the latest showing that Latin America's biggest nation has been a target for U.S., British and now Canadian spy agencies.
The report said the "metadata" of phone calls and emails from and to the Brazilian ministry were targeted by Canada's Communications Security Establishment to map the ministry's communications, using a software program called Olympia. It didn't indicate if emails were read or phone calls listened to.
Brazilian Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao told Globo that "Canada has interests in Brazil, above all in the mining sector. I can't say if the spying served corporate interests or other groups."
American journalist Glenn Greenwald, based in Rio de Janeiro, worked with Globo on its report. Greenwald broke the first stories about the NSA's global spy program focusing on Internet traffic and phone calls.
Globo previously reported that the communications of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and also state-run oil company Petrobras were targeted by NSA spying.
Earlier, Greenwald wrote articles in the O Globo newspaper saying that the NSA was gathering metadata on billions of emails, phone calls and other Internet data flowing through Brazil, an important transit point for global communications.
The fallout over the spy programs led Rousseff last month to cancel a planned visit to the U.S., where she was to be the guest of honor for a state dinner.
Rousseff last month spoke at the United Nations General Assembly and called for international regulations on data privacy and limiting espionage programs targeting the Internet.
WASHINGTON (AP) — National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden's father says he has secured a visa to visit his son in Russia.
Lon Snowden and family attorney Bruce Fein aren't saying when they'll visit Russia.
They also say they haven't spoken directly with Edward Snowden since he fled the United States for Russia, which has given him asylum.
Lon Snowden says he wants his son to return to the United States at some point. But he says he thinks it's unlikely his son could have a fair trial, given public statements from government officials calling the younger Snowden a traitor.
Edward Snowden has been charged in federal court in Alexandria, Va., with violations of the Espionage Act.
Lon Snowden and Fein spoke Sunday with ABC's "This Week."
MOSCOW (AP) - For the first time since June 23rd, Edward Snowden is somewhere other than the Moscow airport. He was able to leave today and enter Russia after authorities granted him temporary asylum. There's no word on where he went. His lawyer says that will be kept secret, for security reasons.
The man who leaked details of secret National Security Agency surveillance programs took refuge at the airport as he tried to evade espionage charges back home.
Snowden now has asylum in Russia for a year -- but that can be extended indefinitely. And Snowden also has the right to seek Russian citizenship.
In a statement released by WikiLeaks, Snowden is quoted as saying that the Obama administration has shown "no respect for international or domestic law" over the past eight weeks. But he said, "in the end, the law is winning."
The White House -- which had demanded that Snowden be sent home to face prosecution -- is denouncing Russia's decision to grant him asylum. And Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham calls it "a game-changer in our relationship with Russia."
MOSCOW (AP) - A Russian lawyer for Edward Snowden says the National Security Agency leaker has received asylum in Russia for one year and left the transit zone of Moscow' airport.
Anatoly Kucherena said he handed over the papers to Snowden on Thursday. He said Snowden left Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport where he was stuck since his arrival from Hong Kong on June 23.
Kucherena said that Snowden's whereabouts will be kept secret for security reasons.
The U.S. has demanded that Russia send Snowden home to face prosecution for espionage, but President Vladimir Putin has dismissed the request.
Putin had said that Snowden could receive asylum in Russia on condition he stops leaking U.S. secrets. Kucherena has said Snowden accepted the condition.
MOSCOW (AP) - NSA leaker Edward Snowden has reportedly dropped his bid for asylum in Russia.
Russian news agencies are quoting President Vladimir Putin's spokesman as saying that Snowden withdrew his request when he learned about the terms Moscow has set out.
Putin said on Monday that Russia is ready to shelter Snowden as long as he stops leaking U.S. secrets.
Meanwhile several of the other countries where the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks says Snowden gas applied for asylum have said he cannot apply from abroad.
Officials in Germany, Norway, Austria, Poland, Finland and Switzerland say he must make his request on their soil.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The outgoing U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is downplaying the damage done by Edward Snowden's highly classified leaks.
Susan Rice says in an Associated Press interview that the disclosures of widespread surveillance have not significantly have weakened the Obama presidency or U.S. foreign policy. Rice insists that the U.S. will remain "the most influential, powerful and important country in the world."
Rice's remarks were her only public ones on Snowden and came in an interview as she prepared to leave the U.N. post and start her new job Monday as President Barack Obama's national security adviser.
She says it's too soon to judge the long-term effects. Rice says the U.S. will work through this as it has done with past problems.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, say Snowden's leaks damaged national security.
MOSCOW (AP) — An Aeroflot flight from Hong Kong believed to be carrying a former National Security Agency contractor wanted by the United States has landed in Moscow.
Hong Kong's government said Edward Snowden was allowed to leave but did not say where he was headed.
Russia's state ITAR-Tass news agency cited an unnamed Aerflot official saying the Snowden was on Flight SU213, which landed on Sunday afternoon in Moscow.
The report said he intended to fly to Cuba on Monday and then on to Caracas, Venezuela.