Kerry admits surveillance on foreign governments 'reached too far'
Iran Press TV
Fri Nov 1, 2013 4:10PM GMT
Secretary of State John Kerry has admitted that surveillance of foreign countries and governments by the National Security Agency (NSA) has "reached too far," amid rising tensions between the US and many of its allies.
Kerry promised that a previously announced plan for review of surveillance practices would be thorough and that some activities would end altogether.
'The president and I have learned of some things that have been happening in many ways on an automatic pilot, because the technology is there and the ability is there,' he told a conference in London on Thursday via video link.
'In some cases, some of these actions have reached too far and we are going to try to make sure it doesn't happen in the future.'
Kerry's comments reflect concerns in Washington about the diplomatic fallout from revelations that the NSA monitored cell phones of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other world leaders.
In recent days, the Obama administration has tried to distance itself from the NSA, a tactic that has irritated senior intelligence officials.
On Thursday, NSA Director General Keith Alexander blamed US diplomats for requests to place foreign leaders under surveillance.
According to German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, Gen. Alexander had briefed President Barack Obama in 2010 about eavesdropping on Merkel's phone but let the NSA continue the surveillance.
James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, has also acknowledged that President Obama and other senior White House officials were well aware of NSA spying activities targeting leaders of friendly foreign nations.
Obama has reportedly had to apologize to Merkel and the presidents of France and Brazil who were also targets of NSA surveillance.
Meanwhile, US Internet companies are furious over recent revelations that the NSA has infiltrated the main communication links that connect Yahoo and Google's data centers outside the US, the Washington Post reported on Thursday, based on disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
According to the report, six leading US technology companies - Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL - sent a letter to two senators and two representatives on Thursday urging an end to the bulk collection of phone records of millions of Americans and create a more effective oversight of the NSA.
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