By Justin Sink - 10/25/13 10:04 PM EDT
The White House might be open to no-spy agreements with the governments of close allies outraged over surveillance of their leaders’ phone and digital communications, NBC News reported Friday.
On Thursday, The Guardian reported that the U.S. government was monitoring the communications of 35 world leaders in 2006.
That report came on the heels of a story in Le Monde indicating the NSA has secretly monitored millions of French emails earlier this year. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had reason to believe that American intelligence was surveilling her personal cell phone, accusing the U.S. of shattering trust between the nations. And Der Spiegel reported that the U.S. had hacked former Mexican president Felipe Calderon's email account.
In the aftermath of those revelations, French and German leaders said they would insist the U.S. agree to limits on its surveillance practices by the end of the year. According to a report in the Associated Press, allies are likely to demand that the U.S. agrees to a code of conduct for intelligence gathering.
Asked about that demand Friday, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes seemed open to the possibility.
“We are already in diplomatic and intelligence channels talking to the Germans, French, countries around the world — Brazil and Mexico, as well,” Rhodes told NBC. “I think we’ll have a series of bilateral discussions with these countries and look at multilateral discussions as well.”
The U.S. has preexisting no-spy agreements with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain.
Already, President Obama assured Merkel in a personal phone conversation that the U.S. would not monitor her personal communications in the future.
But Rhodes refused to confirm whether the U.S. had done so in the past.
“We don’t want to get into the business of inventorying everything we’ve done on the intelligence side in the past,” he said.