US does not want to give up surveillance of Germany - media
14 January 2014, 13:16
Despite initial assurances, the US is not willing to sign an intelligence cooperation agreement with Germany, meant to guarantee a mutual cessation of wiretapping, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper says on Tuesday, citing sources in German government circles.
For several months Berlin and Washington have engaged in dialogue on the preparation of such an agreement. Discussions began immediately after a series of publications, which appeared in the media at the instigation of ex-US intelligence employee Edward Snowden and were devoted to the scale of the CIA's activities in Germany.
The work on an agreement on the prohibition of mutual espionage intensified in October after it became known that the US National Security Agency (NSA) could have tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German top politicians. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung notes that, formally, negotiations with the American party continue but the government of Germany has almost no chance of signing a bilateral non-espionage agreement with Washington. According to the newspaper, the American side even renounces an obligation not to wiretap representatives of the German Cabinet of Ministers and officials in the future.
'The Americans have deceived us', a high-ranking source in the government of the Federal Republic of Germany said to the newspaper. As reported by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, among other things, Washington refuses to inform the German partners when the wiretapping of the Chancellor's cell phone began.
The USA also is not sharing any information about whether other German politicians were also subject to surveillance.
Washington refuses to fulfill the requirements of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution of Germany and admit German specialists to US Embassy in Berlin, from where, perhaps, the surveillance of the Bundestag and the Federal Chancellor's office had been conducted, the newspaper notes.
Obama review of NSA spying 'near completion'
US President Barack Obama's review of US surveillance programmes is 'near completion' just days before he is due to announce reforms, the White House said Monday. 'He is finishing his work, and will be doing so for the next several days, in anticipation of speaking about that work on Friday,' said spokesman Jay Carney. 'So we're not quite concluded yet in that process, but coming close'.
Obama has been weighing-up changes recommended by a review board since last month and will deliver a speech on his conclusions Friday at the Justice Department.
The panel recommended extending privacy protections against broad surveillance to non-US citizens, altering policies on surveillance of foreign leaders and making changes to the National Security Agency's mass collection of US telephone records.
Last week, Obama held meetings with key stakeholders, including the intelligence community and members of Congress.
On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the issue.
The review was prompted by disclosures since June by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the mass collection of telephone and internet data that provoked outrage from US allies abroad and lawmakers and civil libertarians at home.
Revelations that the NSA had tapped mobile phones of world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, further damaged US relations with key allies.
Obama met Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at the White House Monday and the Spanish leader told reporters his government had been in contact with US officials and 'deemed that the explanations were satisfactory.'
President Obama to restructure NSA
US President Barack Obama is expected to announce changes to limit US spying on foreign leaders, but is unlikely to alter the controversial National Security Agency program collecting masses of raw data on the telephone calls of Americans.
Obama may extend privacy protections to cover non-Americans, after reports that the NSA was spying on civilians of friendly countries provoked outrage across the world. The president will also probably appoint a privacy advocate to argue in front of the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approves requests for surveillance.
He will also meet this week with members of the tech community that have been affected by the NSA's thirst for data. The NSA review panel convened by the President will also announce its findings this week.
The FISA courts have been at the center of the NSA debate as they are responsible for approving surveillance programs and since they also have a record of approving the mast majority of requests, introducing a privacy advocate to these hearings could help to minimize the amount of spying that goes on in the US and around the world.
Many of these changes may be coming as a result of President Obama's NSA review panel which is set to release its findings and suggestions this week. This panel was set up with the primary goal of identifying specific parts of the NSA that are overstepping boundaries, so that the President can implement the appropriate changes.
Obama and his aides have been focused behind the scenes this week on finishing a review of the spy programs and preparing for the president's address to the nation. Privacy and civil liberties activists, along with top executives of technology company, are calling on the president to adopt sweeping reforms to curb the NSA's collection of phone call metadata and personal information of online users.
US defense and intelligence agencies have argued that such information is necessary to keep the public safe. But a White House advisory board report issued in December found no evidence that such data had prevented any terrorist attacks.
All of these changes will be coming as a result of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who has continued to leak classified US documents that have exposed a plethora of NSA spying programs which are questionable at best. Even though the US says that it protects whistleblowers, many people in the US government have continued to view Snowden as an enemy, forcing him to take refuge overseas.
Voice of Russia, theverge.com, itnews.com.au, The Washington Post, dpa, RIA
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