Rogers to European allies: NSA keeps you 'safe'

MGN Online
Sunday, October 27, 2013 - 5:36pm

The House Intelligence chief emphatically told CNN's Candy Crowley on Sunday that the NSA's foreign intelligence gathering operations keep allies "safe."

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, said on CNN's "State of the Union" that the vision being presented to the American public of a nation spying on its closest allies does not jibe with reality. According to Rogers, the U.S. counterterror operation abroad "keeps the French safe."

"If the French citizens knew exactly what that was about, they would be applauding and popping champagne corks," Rogers said. "This whole notion that we're going to go after each other on what is really legitimate protection of nation-state interest, I think is disingenuous."

Rogers faulted the media for misrepresenting the information given to them by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, claiming that overseas news outlets such as Der Spiegel in Germany and Le Monde in France are guilty of "smash and grab" reporting.

"This was about a counterterrorism program that had nothing to do with French citizens," Rogers said, referring to the Le Monde report that the United States listened in on 70 million phone calls between its citizens. "That is 100 percent wrong."

Dismissing much of the public fervor over the most recent reports regarding the NSA's intelligence collection of information United States allies, Rogers asserted foreign governments should worry about their own surveillance outfits -- both their effectiveness and lack of oversight.

"I think they need to have a better oversight structure in Europe," Rogers said. "I think they would be enlightened to find out what their intelligence services may or may not be doing."

Citing the built-in barriers to conducting intelligence operations, including court orders for phone collection and congressional review of surveillance efforts, Rogers attempted to turn the tables on the country's European counterparts, intimating that most would be shocked by the extent of their countries' intelligence gathering.

"You have a big group of people sitting at the table deciding if what we should do is right or wrong," Rogers said. "They don't have that in some of our European capitals."

Earlier on the program, CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto said Germany's public denouncement of the NSA's spying goes "beyond public posturing," something seemingly confirmed in an interview the country's interior minister gave the newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

Hans-Peter Friedrich told Bild am Sonntag he wants "complete information" regarding the allegations that the NSA monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone After the paper reported that President Barack Obama discussed the operation with NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander.

Adding that the United States "broke German law on German soil" if Americans did intercept calls as multiple reports allege, Friedrich echoed Merkel to the German paper, saying "'the confidence in our ally USA is shaken."

An NSA spokeswoman denied the report and said the President has never "discussed alleged operations involving Chancellor Merkel."

Ahead of a German delegation of intelligence officials visit to Washington this week, the Obama administration admitted to some overreach in its intelligence gathering. The president's homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, wrote in USA Today on Friday that the President instructed the NSA to review all its "surveillance capabilities," including its overseas initiatives.

"We want to ensure we are collecting information because we need it and not just because we can," Monaco wrote.


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