US closes out no-spy deal with Germany

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The United States will not sign a no-spying agreement with Germany as it attempts to settle the diplomatic fallout from the US National Security Agency’s surveillance on Chancellor Angela Merkel, a White House official said Thursday. “We’re not going to have a no-spy agreement,” deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes said in response to a question from dpa, during a White House briefing with foreign media. “We don’t have no-spy agreements with any country.”

Rhodes said it would “just take time and a healing process through dialogue” to address the issue, but that the US had to find a balance between fresh limits on espionage and the need to gather intelligence. The US has no-spying agreements with just four countries: Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Germany is still smarting at revelations, based on documents from US whistleblower Edward Snowden, that Merkel’s phone was monitored for years by the National Security Agency.

A deep rift remains between the US perspective that spying is no sin and the German view that states must abstain from the unsupervised eavesdropping practiced by fascist and communist dictatorships in Germany. Merkel said in May at the White House that the US and Germany “have a few difficulties yet to overcome” on intelligence-gathering policies.

Former White House aide John Podesta travelled last week to Berlin for a US-German “cyber dialogue” reports DPA.

NSA claims to narrow circle of world leaders to surveil

National Security Agency (NSA) ceased to monitor some of the world’s leaders, after a former intelligence officer Edward Snowden uncovered US intelligence secrets. This was stated by the NSA Director Michael Rogers in an interview with journalists of the newspaper The New York Times.

According to him, the staff received instructions to stop spying on a number of key foreign politicians along with Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose phone, as the newspaper points out, US intelligence agencies have been listening to for years until the US President banned it.

“There were a few targets, details of which we were told not to collect anymore,” said Rogers. “It is, perhaps, half a dozen, but not the hundreds,” he explained. Director of the NSA did not elaborate on the amount of leaders, which were monitored initially.

According to him, the agency adopted strict measures so that none of the staff could unleash so many of its secrets, as Snowden did. At the same time, Rogers acknowledged that it is impossible to completely eliminate this risk. NSA Director pointed out that Snowden revelations caused some damage to the US intelligence, but not catastrophic. “I’m not saying that the world ended because of this,” said Rogers.

NSA has appeared in the center of the scandal due to mass wiretapping of phones of foreign nationals. In the autumn of 2013 the Obama administration had to present explanations to several governments regarding the activities of their secret agencies. According to the press, US intelligence agencies were spying on political leaders in Europe and other parts of the world, listening to their phone conversations and correspondence by intercepting Internet. In October 2013, Obama ordered to check foreign NSA operations.

Information about the various programs of NSA was passed to the American and British media by the former CIA officer Edward Snowden, who was granted temporary asylum in Russia, reports Itar-Tass.

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