The Obama administration is blaming France and Spain for a spying scandal that has caused widespread anger across Europe, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Administration officials told the newspaper that reports that the National Security Agency monitored millions of phone calls in the two countries are wrong. Rather, spying agencies France and Spain collected information “in war zones and other areas outside their borders” and shared it with the United States.
The report comes as the Obama administration is facing a firestorm of criticism from Europe and across the world after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified information about U.S. monitoring efforts. Germany and Brazil are calling for the United Nations to enshrine a right to digital privacy, and a delegation from the European Parliament is in Washington this week to conduct a probe of alleged mass U.S. surveillance of European citizens.
While the Journal report could help put one of the allegations against the NSA to rest, the agency is facing heat on several other fronts. U.S. spies have been monitoring Internet traffic in Europe and other areas for terrorism patterns, according to leaks from Snowden, and U.S. allies are furious about reports that the agency tapped the phones of world leaders, including Germany's Angela Merkel and Brazil's Dilma Rousseff.
The reports have prompted calls for an NSA overhaul on Capitol Hill. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinProgressive groups urge Feinstein to back filibuster carve out for voting rights or resign Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall Five faces from the media who became political candidates MORE (D-Calif.), a longtime NSA supporter, on Monday said she opposed spying on U.S. allies and called for a “total review” of NSA operations.