David Cameron makes veiled threat to media over NSA and GCHQ leaks
Prime minister alludes to courts and D notices and singles out the Guardian over coverage of Edward Snowden saga
Nicholas Watt, chief political correspondent
The Guardian, Monday 28 October 2013 18.10 GMT
David Cameron has called on the Guardian and other newspapers to show "social responsibility" in the reporting of the leaked NSA files to avoid high court injunctions or the use of D notices to prevent the publication of information that could damage national security.
In a statement to MPs on Monday about last week's European summit in Brussels, where he warned of the dangers of a "lah-di-dah, airy-fairy view" about the dangers of leaks, the prime minister said his preference was to talk to newspapers rather than resort to the courts. But he said it would be difficult to avoid acting if newspapers declined to heed government advice.
The prime minister issued the warning after the Tory MP Julian Smith quoted a report in Monday's edition of the Sun that said Britain's intelligence agencies believed details from the NSA files leaked by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden had hampered their work.
The Sun quoted a "top surveillance source" as saying that terrorists had "gone quiet" after the publication of details about NSA and GCHQ operations.
Cameron told MPs: "We have a free press, it's very important the press feels it is not pre-censored from what it writes and all the rest of it.
"The approach we have taken is to try to talk to the press and explain how damaging some of these things can be and that is why the Guardian did actually destroy some of the information and disks that they have. But they've now gone on and printed further material which is damaging.
"I don't want to have to use injunctions or D notices or the other tougher measures. I think it's much better to appeal to newspapers' sense of social responsibility. But if they don't demonstrate some social responsibility it would be very difficult for government to stand back and not to act."
The Guardian agreed to allow officials from GCHQ to oversee the destruction of hard drives in July, after the government threatened to use an injunction to block publication of information from the NSA files.
Alan Rusbridger, the editor-in-chief of the Guardian, said the destruction of the hard drives allowed the Guardian to continue reporting on the NSA files from its New York office.
The D-notice system is a voluntary code between government departments with responsibility for national security and the media. A notice can be issued to the media to prevent "inadvertent public disclosure of information that would compromise UK military and intelligence operations and methods".
Cameron had earlier indicated that the oversight of Britain's intelligence agencies may have to evolve in light of the revelations about the reach of new technology. He told MPs: "We have parliamentary scrutiny of our intelligence agencies through the intelligence and security committee and we have strengthened that oversight.
"Our agencies operate under the law and their work is overseen by intelligence commissioners. Of course as technology develops and as the threats we face evolve so we need to make sure that the scrutiny and the frameworks in place remain strong and effective."
Parliament's intelligence and security committee announced earlier this month that it is to scutinise the extent of mass surveillance in response to the concerns raised by the Snowden leaks.
The prime minister issued his warning to newspapers after Ed Miliband raised concerns about the reports last week that the US has monitored the mobile phone of the German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Miliband said: "I join the prime minister in his support for the work of our intelligence services. It is vital, it keeps us safe and, by its very nature, it goes unrecognised. I join the prime minister in applauding the men and women who work for our intelligence agencies.
"We can all understand the deep concerns that recent reports have caused in some European countries, especially Germany. As well as providing that support for intelligence services it is right that every country ensures proper oversight of those activities."
Julian Smith, who recently wrote to the Metropolitan police to assess whether the Guardian has broken the law in publishing details from the NSA files, asked the PM in the Commons: "Following the Sun's revelations this morning about the impact of the Snowden leaks, is it not time that any newspaper that may have crossed the line on national security comes forward and voluntarily works with the government to mitigate further risks to our citizens?"
10/28/2013 06:08 PMAppearances and Reality: Merkel Balks at EU Privacy Push
By Gregor Peter Schmitz in Brussels
Chancellor Merkel has put on a good show of being outraged by American spying. But, at the same time, she has impeded efforts to strengthen data security. Does she really want more privacy, or is she more interested in being accepted into the exclusive group of info-sharing countries known as the 'Five Eyes' club?
One particular point of clarification was especially important to Angela Merkel during the EU summit in Brussels last week. When she complained about the NSA's alleged tapping of her cellphone, the German chancellor made clear that her concern was not for herself, but for the "telephones of millions of EU citizens," whose privacy she said was compromised by US spying.
Yet at a working dinner with fellow EU heads of state on Thursday, where the agenda included a proposed law to bolster data protection, Merkel's fighting spirit on behalf of the EU's citizens seemed to have dissipated.
In fact, internal documents show that Germany applied the brakes when it came to speedy passage of such a reform. Although a number of EU member states -- including France, Italy and Poland -- were pushing for the creation of a Europe-wide modern data protection framework before European Parliament elections take place in May 2014, the issue ended up tabled until 2015.
Great Britain, itself suspected of spying on its EU partners, and Prime Minister David Cameron, who has former Google CEO Eric Schmidt as one of his advisors, put up considerable resistance. He pushed instead for the final summit statement to call simply for "rapid" progress on a solid EU data-protection framework.
A Setback for ' Europe 's Declaration of Independence '
Merkel also joined those applying the brakes. Over the weekend, SPIEGEL ONLINE gained access to internal German Foreign Ministry documents concerning the EU leaders' final summit statement. The "track changes" feature reflects a crucial proposed change to item No. 8 under the subject heading "Digital Economy" -- the suggestion that the phrase "adoption next year" be replaced with "The negotiations have to be carried on intensely."
Ultimately, the official version of the final summit statement simply called for "rapid" progress on the issue -- just as Great Britain was hoping for.
This amounts to a setback for proponents of the proposed data-protection law, which EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has called "Europe's declaration of independence."
The European Parliament recently began drafting stricter regulations in this area, including potential fines running into the billions of euros for any Internet company caught illegally passing private data to US intelligence agencies. Such proposed legislation has the support even of some of Merkel's fellow conservatives in the European Parliament, including Manfred Weber of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who says: "We need to finally summon the political will for more data protection."
American tech corporations could hardly believe their luck at having Merkel's support. Now they're hoping for more leeway to water down the data-protection law as soon as the furor over the latest spying scandal has subsided. One high-ranking American tech-company executive told the Financial Times: "When we saw the story about Merkel's phone being tapped … we thought we were going to lose." But, he added: "It looks like we won."
Indeed, the EU leaders' anger was already starting to dissipate during their sessions in Brussels. Summit participants say leaders pointed out that Europe is not exactly on the side of the angels when it comes to government spying. Luxembourg's prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, cautioned his fellow leaders, questioning whether they were certain their own intelligence agencies had never violated data privacy themselves.
Code of Conduct for Intelligence Agencies
The concerns of the tech industry, in particular, received an attentive ear among Europe's leaders. One summit participant relates that restructuring data-protection laws was portrayed as a "laborious" task that would require more time to complete, and that Merkel did not push for speed on the matter, to the surprise of some of her counterparts.
According to summit participants, the German chancellor seemed far more interested in the "Five Eyes" alliance among the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The top-level allies within this exclusive group, which began in 1946 as a pact between London and Washington, have agreed not to spy on one another, but instead to share information and resources. In Brussels, Cameron stressed to his fellow leaders how many terrorist attacks had been prevented by successful intelligence work.
Merkel, meanwhile, stated: "Unlike David, we are unfortunately not part of this group." According to the New York Times, Germany has sought membership in the "Five Eyes" alliance for years, but has been turned down due to opposition, including from the Obama administration. But this could now change, the paper speculates.
French President François Hollande, on the other hand, made clear in Brussels that he has no interest in joining such an alliance, calling instead for a European code of conduct for intelligence agencies, something Great Britain rejects.
France wouldn't be welcome in the "Five Eyes" alliance in any case, a former top US official told SPIEGEL ONLINE: "Germany joining would be a possibility, but not France -- France itself spies on the US far too aggressively for that."
Translated from the German by Ella Ornstein
****************NSA oversight dismissed as 'illusory' as anger intensifies in Europe and beyond
Condemnation by Latin American panel comes as US fields worsening outrage from Spain and Germany over surveillance
Spencer Ackerman in Washington
theguardian.com, Monday 28 October 2013 17.43 GMT
The Obama administration's international surveillance crisis deepened on Monday as representatives from a Latin American human rights panel told US diplomats that oversight of the programs was "illusory".
Members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an arm of the Organization of American States, expressed frustration and dissatisfaction with the National Security Agency's mass surveillance of foreign nationals – something the agency argues is both central to its existence and necessary to prevent terrorism.
"With a program of this scope, it's obvious that any form of control becomes illusory when there's hundreds of millions of communications that become monitored and surveilled," said Felipe Gonzales, a commissioner and Chilean national.
"This is of concern to us because maybe the Inter-American Committee on Human Rights may become a target as well of surveillance," said Rodrigo Escobar Gil, a commissioner and Colombian citizen.
Frank La Rue, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, told the commission that the right to privacy was "inextricably linked" to free expression.
"What is not permissible from a human rights point of view is that those that hold political power or those that are in security agencies or, even less, those in intelligence agencies decide by themselves, for themselves, what the scope of these surveillance activities are, or who will be targeted, or who will be blank surveilled," La Rue said.
While the US sent four representatives to the hearing, they offered no defence, rebuttal or elaboration about bulk surveillance, saying the October government shutdown prevented them from adequate preparation. "We are here to listen," said deputy permanent representative Lawrence Gumbiner, who pledged to submit written responses within 30 days.
All 35 North, Central and South American nations are members of the commission. La Rue, originally from Guatemala and an independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council, travels the world reporting on human rights concerns – often in countries with poor democratic standards.
Spying on foreigners is the core mission of the NSA, one that it vigorously defends as appropriate, legal and unexceptional given the nature of global threats and widespread spycraft. Monday's hearing suggested that there are diplomatic consequences to bulk surveillance even if there may not be legal redress for non-Americans.
Brazil has already shown a willingness to challenge Washington over bulk surveillance. President Dilma Rousseff postponed a September meeting with President Obama in protest, and denounced the spying during the UN general assembly shortly thereafter. Brazil is also teaming up with Germany at the UN on a general assembly resolution demanding an end to the mass surveillance.
The commission's examination of the NSA's bulk surveillance activities suggested a potential southern front could open in the spy crisis just as the administration is attempting to calm down Europe.
The Obama administration has been fielding a week's worth of European outrage following media reports that the NSA had collected a similarly large volume of phone calls from France – which director of national intelligence James Clapper, who recently apologised for misleading the Senate about domestic spying, called "false" – and spying on German chancellor Angela Merkel's own cellphone, which US officials have effectively confessed to.
Brazil and Mexico are also demanding answers from US intelligence officials, following reports about intrusive acts of espionage in their territory revealed by documents provided to journalists by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The White House has said it will provide some answers after the completion of an external review of its surveillance programs, scheduled to be completed before the end of the year.
The Guardian reported on Thursday that the NSA has intercepted the communications of 35 world leaders.
International discomfort with NSA bulk surveillance is not the only spy challenge the Obama administration now confronts.
Congressman James Sensenbrenner, the Wisconsin Republican and key author of the 2001 Patriot Act, is poised to introduce a bill this week that would prevent the NSA from collecting phone records on American citizens in bulk and without an individual warrant. The National Journal reported that Sensenbrenner's bill, which has a companion in the Senate, has attracted eight co-sponsors who either voted against or abstained on a July amendment in the House that would have defunded the domestic phone records bulk collection, a legislative gambit that came within seven votes of passage.
Sensenbrenner's bill, like its Senate counterpart sponsored by Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, would not substantially restrict the NSA's foreign-focused surveillance, which is a traditional NSA activity. There is practically no congressional appetite, and no viable legislation, to limit the NSA from intercepting the communications of foreigners.
An early sign about the course of potential surveillance reforms in the House of Representatives may come as early as Tuesday. The House intelligence committee, a hotbed of support for the NSA, will hold its first public hearing of the fall legislative calendar on proposed surveillance legislation. Its chairman, Mike Rogers of Michigan, has proposed requiring greater transparency on the NSA and the surveillance court that oversees it, but would largely leave the actual surveillance activities of the NSA, inside and outside the United States, untouched.
Alex Abdo, a lawyer with the ACLU, which requested the hearing at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, warned the human rights panel that the NSA could "target the foreign members of this commission when they travel abroad", as well as foreign dissidents of US-aligned governments; foreign lawyers for Guantánamo detainees; and other foreigners.
"If every country were to engage in surveillance as pervasive as the NSA, we would soon live in a state … with no refuge for the world's dissidents, journalists and human rights defenders," Abdo said.
October 28, 2013Obama May Ban Spying on Heads of Allied States
By MARK LANDLER and DAVID E. SANGER
WASHINGTON — President Obama is poised to order the National Security Agency to stop eavesdropping on the leaders of American allies, administration and congressional officials said Monday, responding to a deepening diplomatic crisis over reports that the agency had for years targeted the cellphone of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
The White House informed a leading Democratic lawmaker, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, of its plans, which grew out of a broader internal review of intelligence-gathering methods, prompted by the leak of N.S.A. documents by a former contractor, Edward J. Snowden.
In a statement on Monday, Ms. Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, “I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers.” Ms. Feinstein, who has been a stalwart defender of the administration’s surveillance policies, said her committee would begin a “major review of all intelligence collection programs.”
The White House said Monday evening that no final decision had been made on the monitoring of friendly foreign leaders. But the disclosure that it is moving to prohibit it signals a landmark shift for the N.S.A., which has had nearly unfettered powers to collect data on tens of millions of people around the world, from ordinary citizens to heads of state, including the leaders of Brazil and Mexico.
It is also likely to prompt a fierce debate on what constitutes an American ally. Prohibiting eavesdropping on Ms. Merkel’s phone is an easier judgment than, for example, collecting intelligence on the military-backed leaders in Egypt.
“We have already made some decisions through this process and expect to make more,” said a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, Caitlin M. Hayden, adding that the review would be completed in December.
Disclosure of the White House’s proposed action came after the release on Monday afternoon of Ms. Feinstein’s statement, in which she asserted that the White House had told her it would cease all intelligence collection in friendly countries. That statement, senior administration officials said, was “not accurate,” but they acknowledged that they had already made unspecified changes in surveillance policy and planned further changes, particularly in the monitoring of government leaders.
The administration will reserve the right to continue collecting intelligence in friendly countries that pertains to criminal activity, potential terrorist threats and the proliferation of unconventional weapons, according to several officials. It also appeared to be leaving itself room in the case of a foreign leader of an ally who turned hostile or whose actions posed a threat to the United States.
The crossed wires between the White House and Ms. Feinstein were an indication of how the furor over the N.S.A.’s methods is testing even the administration staunchest defenders.
Aides said the senator’s six-paragraph statement reflected exasperation at the N.S.A. for failing to keep the Intelligence Committee fully apprised of such politically delicate operations as eavesdropping on the conversations of friendly foreign leaders.
“She believes the committee was not adequately briefed on the details of these programs, and she’s frustrated,” said a committee staff member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “In her mind, there were salient omissions.”
The review that Ms. Feinstein announced would be “a major undertaking,” the staff member said.
The White House has faced growing outrage in Germany and among other European allies over its surveillance policies. Senior officials from Ms. Merkel’s office and the heads of Germany’s domestic and foreign intelligence agencies plan to travel to Washington in the coming days to register their anger.
They are expected to ask for a no-spying agreement similar to what the United States has with Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which are known as the Five Eyes.
The United States has historically resisted such agreements, even with friendly governments, though it explored a similar arrangement with France early in the Obama administration. But officials said they would give the Germans, in particular, a careful hearing.
“We have intel relationships that are already very close,” said a senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the subject. “There are other types of agreements you could have: cooperation, limits on intelligence, greater transparency. The countries on the top of the list for those are close European allies.”
The National Security Agency has said it did not inform Mr. Obama of its reported monitoring of Ms. Merkel, which appears to have started in 2002 and was not suspended until sometime last summer after the theft of the N.S.A. data by Mr. Snowden was discovered.
“At that point it was clear that lists of targeted foreign officials may well become public,” said one official, “so many of the interceptions were suspended.”
The N.S.A.’s documentation on Ms. Merkel’s case authorized the agency’s operatives in Germany not only to collect data about the numbers she was calling, but also to listen in on her conversations, according to current and former administration officials.
It was unclear whether excerpts from Ms. Merkel’s conversations appeared in intelligence reports that were circulated in Washington or shared with the White House. Officials said they had never seen information attributed to an intercept of Ms. Merkel’s conversations. But they said it was likely that some conversations had been recorded simply because the N.S.A. had focused on her for so long.
In both public comments and private interchanges with German officials, the Obama administration has refused to confirm that Ms. Merkel’s phone was targeted, though it has said that it is not the subject of N.S.A. action now, and will not be in the future.
The refusal to talk about the past has further angered German officials, who have said the surveillance has broken trust between two close allies. The Germans were particularly angry that the operation appears to have been run from inside the American Embassy or somewhere near it, in the heart of Berlin, steps from the Brandenburg Gate.
None of the officials and former officials who were interviewed would speak directly about the decision to target Ms. Merkel, saying that information was classified. But they said the legal distinction between tapping a conversation and simply collecting telephone “metadata” — essentially the kind of information about a telephone call that would be found on a telephone bill — existed only for domestic telephone calls, or calls involving United States citizens.
To record the conversation of a “U.S. Person,” the intelligence agencies would need a warrant. But no such distinction applies to intercepting the calls of foreigners, on foreign soil — though those intercepts may be a violation of local law.
That means that the intercepts of other world leaders could have also involved both information about the calls and the conversations themselves.
Dennis C. Blair, Mr. Obama’s first director of national intelligence, declined to speak specifically about the Merkel case. But he noted that “in our intelligence relationship with countries like France and Germany, 90 to 95 percent of our activity is cooperative and sharing, and a small proportion is about gaining intelligence we can’t obtain in other ways.”
He said he had little patience for the complaints of foreign leaders. “If any foreign leader is talking on a cellphone or communicating on unclassified email, what the U.S. might learn is the least of their problems.”
In addition to the Germans, European Union officials and members of the European Parliament are descending on Washington to deliver a tough message: The N.S.A.’s surveillance is unacceptable and has eroded trust between the United States and Europe.
“The key message is there is a problem,” said Silvia Kofler, a spokeswoman for the European Union. “We need to re-establish the trust between partners. You don’t spy on partners.”
One potential threat, Ms. Kofler said, was to the negotiation of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, one of Mr. Obama’s major trade initiatives. European Union officials, she said, were anxious to keep those talks on track but would require unspecified “confidence-building measures” to restore trust between the two sides.
An administration official said the White House would take these visits seriously, having senior officials from several government agencies and the White House meet with the Germans, though no meetings have yet been scheduled.
Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.
*************Obama sidesteps questions on NSA spying and what he knew – videohttp://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2013/oct/29/obama-nsa-spying-questions-video
President Barack Obama sidesteps questions over whether he knew the cellphones of world leaders were being monitored by the National Security Agency. Speaking during an interview in the grounds of the White House, Obama said: 'I'm not confirming a bunch of assumptions that have been made in the press'
***************NSA faces sweeping review into extent of surveillance
Senate intelligence committee chair Dianne Feinstein, who has been a loyal defender of the NSA, demands a 'total' surveillance review
Paul Lewis and Spencer Ackerman in Washington
The Guardian, Tuesday 29 October 2013
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.
"Unless the United States is engaged in hostilities against a country or there is an emergency need for this type of surveillance, I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers. The president should be required to approve any collection of this sort," Feinstein added.
"The White House has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue, which I support. But as far as I'm concerned, Congress needs to know exactly what our intelligence community is doing. To that end, the committee will initiate a major review into all intelligence collection programs."
Feinstein's statement comes at a crucial time for the NSA. Legislation will be introduced in Congress on Tuesday that would curtail the agency's powers, and there are the first signs that the White House may be starting to distance itself from security chiefs. On Monday, the White House's chief spokesman, Jay Carney, said the administration "acknowledged the tensions" caused by Snowden's disclosures.
"The president clearly feels strongly about making sure we are not just collecting information because we can, but because we should," Carney said. "We recognize there needs to be additional constraints on how we gather and use intelligence."
Obama told ABC News on Monday evening that he would not discuss classified information but accepted that security operations were being reassessed to ensure proper oversight of the NSA's technical abilities.
He said: "The national security operations, generally, have one purpose and that is to make sure the American people are safe and that I'm making good decisions. I'm the final user of all the intelligence that they gather. But they're involved in a whole wide range of issues.
"We give them policy direction. But what we've seen over the last several years is their capacities continue to develop and expand, and that's why I'm initiating now a review to make sure that what they're able to do doesn't necessarily mean what they should be doing."
On Tuesday morning, James Sensenbrenner, the Wisconsin Republican and author of the 2001 Patriot Act, will introduce a bill called the USA Freedom Act that will ban warrantless bulk phone metadata collection and prevent the NSA from querying its foreign communications databases for identifying information on Americans. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who chairs the Senate judiciary committee, will introduce the bill's Senate counterpart that same day.
Also on Tuesday, the two most senior intelligence leaders are due to testify before the House intelligence committee. Both are now expected to be grilled on why they appear not to have informed either the White House or congressional oversight committees about the spying activities directed at foreign leaders.
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence who is under fire for misleading Congress on bulk domestic collection, will testify about surveillance reform Tuesday afternoon. He will be accompanied by General Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, who last week mused to a Pentagon blog that "we ought to come up with a way of stopping" reporters' stories about the NSA's bulk collection programs.
Their performance is likely to be influential towards members of Congress on the fence about bulk domestic collection ahead of a vote on Sensenbrenner's bill. A July predecessor came within seven votes of passage.
Feinstein's shifting position was not the only emerging challenge confronting the NSA late Monday. A new disclosure from the Electronic Frontier Foundation added to the agency's woes by suggesting that it began testing means to gather location data on cellphones inside the US before informing the secret surveillance court that oversees it.
A short document apparently written in 2011 by an NSA lawyer discussed a 2010 "mobility testing effort" involving "cell site locations." The lawyer, whose name was redacted in a document obtained by the group under the Freedom of Information Act, said that the Justice Department was believed to have "orally advised" the so-called Fisa Court that "we had obtained a limited set of test data sampling of cellular mobility data (cell site location information) pursuant to the Court-authorized program" under section 215 of the Patriot Act, which the NSA uses to justify collecting Americans' phone records in bulk.
Alexander recently conceded that the so-called "pilot program" for cellular geolocation collection existed and said it was potentially a "future requirement for the country." It was previously unknown that the pilot program proceeded before the Fisa Court knew of it.
Just a month ago, in her own committee, Feinstein, delivered a full-throated and unequivocal defence of every surveillance activity conducted by the NSA.
"It is my opinion that the surveillance activities conducted under FISA, and other programs operated by the National Security Agency, are lawful, they are effective, and they are conducted under careful oversight within the NSA, by the Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and by the FISA Court and the Congress," Feinstein said on September 26.
In August, following disclosures that the NSA had improperly collected data on thousands of Americans, Feinstein accused the Washington Post of misquoting her, saying her committee "has never identified an instance in which the NSA has intentionally abused its authority to conduct surveillance for inappropriate purposes".
Feinstein is bringing her own legislation to enable superficial reforms of the NSA and the secret court system, but stops short of curbing the intelligence community's powers, is being marked up at her committee on Tuesday.
Feinstein's about-face presents the major challenge for the White House, which perceives the California Democrat as a key Senate surrogate on surveillance issues.
Obama has yet to take a position on the Leahy and Sensenbrenner bills. Congressional aides expect a major push by the NSA to defeat the bills, but are unsure how vigorously the White House will oppose them.
Carney's remarks on Monday, prompted by a growing sense of diplomatic backlash against the US over the NSA, provide additional uncertainty. US officials have distanced Obama from the foreign-leader spying in anonymous comments to the Wall Street Journal.
*************NSA review panel to present Obama with dossier on surveillance reforms
Classified document will also detail consequences of domestic and foreign spying revelations as anger mounts abroad
Paul Lewis in Washington
The Guardian, Monday 28 October 2013 18.48 GMT
Barack Obama will receive a classified dossier in the next two weeks that will lay out the consequences for US foreign relations of the National Security Agency's powerful surveillance apparatus and provide the White House with a raft of possible reforms.
The document is being drafted by a top-level group of experts appointed by the president to conduct an external review of US surveillance capabilities and the damage to public trust resulting from the Edward Snowden disclosures.
The review, parts of which will be declassified and released to the public, will be completed by mid-December. However, a senior administration official familiar with the process said a secret "interim report" will be shared with the president shortly.
The group's work has been delayed slightly because of the recent US government shutdown, but it is expected to submit the report to the president via the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, in the week beginning 11 November.
The review is being carried out by a panel that includes Richard Clarke, a former White House counter-terrorism chief, and Michael Morell, the previous deputy director of the CIA.
Its importance has been amplified over the last week, after a series of revelations about the nature and scope of monitoring activities abroad, particularly against US allies.
On Monday, the US ambassador to Spain, James Costos, was summoned by the prime minister after reports in the El Mundo newspaper that the NSA had spied on 60 million phone calls in the country during one recent 30-day period.
The Spanish government called on the US to hand over all necessary information concerning "supposed eavesdropping carried out in Spain". Spain joins Brazil, Mexico, Germany and France on a list of countries demanding answers from the administration. On Monday, a delegation from the European parliament arrived in Washington to discuss the spy allegations with US lawmakers.
Last week the Guardian revealed that the NSA monitored the phone conversations of at least 35 world leaders. Separately, Angela Merkel called Obama to protest that her phone had been monitored, with Der Spiegel reporting on Sunday that the surveillance on the German chancellor began as early as 2002.
Asked about the reports on Monday, the White House's chief spokesman, Jay Carney, said the administration "acknowledged the tensions" caused by Snowden's disclosures. "We understand this has caused concern in countries that represent some of our closest relationships internationally," he said, "and we are working to allay those concerns and to discuss these issues."
"The president clearly feels strongly about making sure we are not just collecting information because we can, but because we should," Carney said. "We recognize there needs to be additional constraints on how we gather and use intelligence."
Jen Psaki, spokeswoman for the the State Department, which is managing the diplomatic fallout, added that the US was "not naive" about the impact of the disclosures on foreign relations.
The White House has declined to say whether Merkel's phone was monitored in the past. But according to the Wall Street Journal, the Obama administration ordered the NSA to cease the surveillance of her and other leaders after the program emerged over the summer in a separate, internal review of the agency's activities.
Carney said that internal review, led by the White House with input from agencies across government, will also also be completed before the end of the year. It contains what Carney described as a "separate" component dedicated to dealing with issues relating to "some of the very specific things with regard to intelligence gathered, including matters that deal with heads of states and other governments".
The external review, which will feed into the White House's internal assessment of surveillance, has itself been criticised for being too close to the Obama administration.
In addition to Clarke and Morell, the panel, which first met on 27 August, includes a law school professor, Geoffrey Stone, the former White House official Cass Sunstein and Peter Swire, who advised Obama and former president Bill Clinton on privacy.
The group has been tasked with reconsidering surveillance capabilities "in light of advancements in technology", seeking to find the right balance between national security interests and maintaining standards of privacy and civil liberties.
When he announced the review in early August, Obama specifically said it should consider "how surveillance impacts our foreign policy – particularly in an age when more and more information is becoming public".
The foreign policy component of its work has now provided a renewed focus. The extent of anger among foreign countries, particularly in Europe, has taken some administration officials by surprise. The most furious reaction has come from Germany, which is planning to send a delegation to Washington in the coming days.
The delegation is expected to include the directors of Germany's foreign and domestic intelligence services, who will expect to meet their counterparts, including the director of the NSA, General Keith Alexander, according to a source with knowledge of the trip.
The delegation, which will arrive late this week or early next, will also include high-ranking officials from Chancellor Merkel's office who will meet with counterparts on the White House's national security council.
Separately, a group of European Union parliamentarians arrived in Washington on Monday to meet with US lawmakers and senior national security officials and discuss what the White House called "privacy issues".
US representative Mike Rogers, a Republican, said afterward they discussed the need to rebuild trust and share intelligence.
Rogers, a staunch defender of US intelligence agencies, acknowledged the parliamentarians have brought legitimate concerns, according to Reuters.
"It's important to understand that we're going to have to have a policy discussion that is bigger than any individual intelligence agency of either Europe or the United States," he said.
Guardian US interactive team
theguardian.com, Monday 28 October 2013 15.58 GMT An excerpt from our upcoming project NSA Files: Decoded
Three degrees of separation: breaking down the NSA's 'hops' surveillance method
You don’t need to be talking to a terror suspect to have your communications data analysed by the NSA. The agency is allowed to travel “three hops” from its targets – who could be people who talk to people who talk to people who talk to you. Facebook, where the typical user has 190 friends, shows how three degrees of separation gets you to a network bigger than the population of Colorado. How many people are three “hops” from you?
Click to view this: http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/oct/28/nsa-files-decoded-hops
10/28/2013 03:42 PMUS on Spying Scandal: 'Allies Aren't Always Friends'
By Marc Pitzke in New York
Many commentators in the US see surveillance like the NSA's alleged tapping of Chancellor Merkel's phone as a necessary fact of life. The White House is trying to limit the damage -- but the snooping will go on.
Jon Stewart knows how to twist the knife. "So you guys are all upset we're spying on you," America's most popular TV satirist told an imaginary European audience. "But I just have one question: Have you met us? Meddling in your affairs for our national self-interest is kind of our thing."
That's no joke -- especially not this week when the tremors of the alleged US surveillance of Chancellor Angela Merkel will finally reach Washington. A German intelligence service delegation is traveling to the US capital to find answers to the array of question this scandal has thrown up.
The main ones are: What did President Barack Obama know? How can the crisis of confidence in the trans-Atlantic alliance be repaired? And what will really change in the end?
That last question can already be answered: not a lot. Over the weekend, senior members of Congress strongly defended the NSA's actions and dismissed the White House's efforts at appeasement as nothing more than superficial politeness.
Take Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which on Tuesday plans to discuss the NSA and, probably, SPIEGEL's latest revelations. The Republican from Michigan left little doubt of how little he thinks of radical change. Mutual surveillance, he told CNN, served the "legitimate protection of nation-state interest."
Peter King, chairman of the House subcommittee on counter-terrorism and intelligence, said "the president should stop apologizing, stop being defensive." The New York Republican added that the NSA had "saved thousands of lives, not just in the United States but also in France and Germany and throughout Europe." And Germany, he continued, was a legitimate target for espionage, anyways, partly because "that's where the Hamburg plot began, which led to 9/11."
The NSA itself predictably showed the least contrition. "Would I stop doing any of that?" outgoing NSA chief Keith Alexander said in an interview with a Department of Defense blog. "Well, there's policy decisions that policymakers can do, but nobody would ever want us to stop protecting this country against terrorists, against adversary states, against cyber."
'That's Just Life and International Politics'
It's an attitide that newspaper editorialists shared. "Allies aren't always friends," wrote Stewart Baker in the New York Times. Steward was the assistant secretary for policy at the US Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush, who was president when the NSA began tapping Merkel's phone back in 2002, according to information obtained by SPIEGEL. Without spying, the US wouldn't be able to carry out ts role in the world, he said. "That's just life and international politics. As German Chancellor Angela Merkel too knows quite well."
Such opinions are drowning out critical voices from people such as Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, of New Hampshire. On Sunday, she told CBS that recent revelations had inflicted "significant damage" to our bilateral relations with overseas allies, adding that Americans have "repair work to do."
"And I think we have hard questions we need to ask of the NSA about what's really going on in this program," she said.
When Did Obama Know What?
There is also confusion about what and when Obama knew about the operation against Merkel. On Sunday, the NSA said in a statement that Alexander "did not discuss with President Obama in 2010 an alleged foreign intelligence operation involving German Chancellor Merkel, nor has he ever discussed alleged operations involving Chancellor Merkel. News reports claiming otherwise are not true."
The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday evening that the NSA had stopped monitoring Merkel's phone after an "internal Obama administration review started this summer revealed to the White House the existence of the operation."
According to the newspaper, officials said the internal review turned up NSA monitoring of some 35 world leaders. The White House cut off some monitoring programs after learning of them, including the one tracking Merkel and some other world leaders, the paper said, citing information provided by a senior U.S. official. Other programs have been slated for termination but have yet to be phased out completely, officials told the paper.
In the summer, Obama announced two NSA reviews, an internal and an external one. But that was just a reaction to the monitoring of US citizens. SPIEGEL's revelations give these reviews new relevance.
Did the NSA Decide on Its Own?
Even if Obama didn't know, it wouldn't look good. A government leader who doesn't know what his intelligence agencies are up to looks weak. "These decisions are made at NSA," the government official told the Wall Street Journal. "The president doesn't sign off on this stuff," the official added, noting that the protocol was under review.
Even former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton doesn't appear to have been informed about the spying. In a a speech at Colgate University in New York last Friday, she called for a "full, comprehensive discussion" but added that the revelations were "in bits and pieces" that weren't "in context."
The White House remains tight-lipped. It confirmed that there are some ongoing internal investigations regarding intelligence surveillance operations in allied countries, but it didn't go into detail. Obama remained silent and spent his Sunday with a visit to church and a four-hour golf game.