Obama Doesn’t Apologize for Spying on World Leaders

Obama3President Obama laid out his new intelligence policy Friday at the Department of Justice where he defended the practices of the National Security Agency while also announcing the end of storing phone records of U.S. citizens.

What he didn’t do was apologize for U.S. intelligence agencies spying on foreign government leaders. The leaders of notable U.S. government allies to include Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff have criticized the U.S. when it was uncovered that U.S. intelligence agencies had collected intelligence on them and their governments.

Like much of the information recently discovered about NSA’s collection practices, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden released data that connected the U.S. to spying on the world leaders. Rousseff said before the U.N. General Assembly that this sort of surveillance was “a breach of international law.”

Obama said he has made clear to the intelligence community that “unless there is a compelling national security purpose — we will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies.”

That doesn’t mean the U.S. will not continue to collect information to gauge “the intentions of governments,” since that is something all governments do.

“We will not apologize simply because our services may be more effective. But heads of state and government with whom we work closely, and on whose cooperation we depend, should feel confident that we are treating them as real partners. The changes I’ve ordered do just that,” Obama said.

However, Obama did acknowledge the harm it has done to certain diplomatic relationships between the U.S. and some countries.

“I’ve instructed my national security team, as well as the intelligence community, to work with foreign counterparts to deepen our coordination and cooperation in ways that rebuild trust going forward,” Obama said.

The president went on to say that he would much rather just pick up the phone than tap the phone lines to foreign heads of state.

“And the leaders of our close friends and allies deserve to know that if I want to learn what they think about an issue, I will pick up the phone and call them, rather than turning to surveillance.”

 

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to Military.com. He can be reached at mhoffman@tandemnsi.com.
  • Rob

    Feel is borderline invasion of privacy but allies should understand that this type of ‘spying’ can possibly expose corruption, criminals & even spies that are in foreign governments.

    I am sure it is more used for then it’s intended purpose but really, if the NSA can do it, most likely so can experienced cyberwarriors.

    Curious what was really learned.

    • Mat

      Let us know when they find first case of corruption,criminal or spy with NSA taps and meta data harvesting.
      Just admit you live in a police state that is invasive way beyond what KGB or STASI ever dream’t off .

      • blight_

        Stasi would be insanely jealous.

  • PolicyWonk

    What he didn’t do was apologize for U.S. intelligence agencies spying on foreign government leaders.
    ============================================
    And why would he? Everyone spies on everyone, as has been going on since the beginning of time. If anyone was surprised that we’ve been spying on everyone of significance, or any foreign government, they’ve either been living in a dream world or simply haven’t been paying attention.

    • Nadnerbus

      Probably less the spying, and more the fact that it was aired out in public for all to see. It makes our allies look like chumps to the general public. Same reason people would be outraged if a giant Israeli spy program that tapped into our government’s coms came out. They probably do a lot of that already, but making it public would be bad for everyone’s egos.

      If they can’t keep the spying a secret, what about the information they collect on those heads of states? That has to make any politician nervous.

    • UN14120

      I’m still a little astonished this site is out there. Real thought, consideration and debate.

      Since 2008, the 47% have taken over. Low grade information users regurgitating bunk that would make even the most ardent of tenants in hell or the most hardened grand duke in Kentucky shake their heads in wonder.

      Of course he doesn’t have anything to apologise for. The reasons the Countries ‘spied on’ didn’t squeal bloody murder is, it is routine protocol in the world. It is the way everyone gathers additional information. One doesn’t just get a travelers guide about an ally and trust they have ‘actionable’ intelligence to protect its people.

      Then there are the simpletons like ‘greg’ below. Steeped in a hatred IT {i refuse to reference IT as a human being because we all know the source of ‘its’ venom, racism} A quaint notion nurtured for the overfed and under-educated primarily by the likes of fixed noise.

    • Reginald Hubbert

      I concur fully with your comments on this issue.

  • I don’t think he should. Most nations are involve in some form of intelligence gathering, some more sophisticated than others. It is really nothing to apologise about.

  • jamesb

    The President also reminded us that online and other businesses do things like deposit ‘cookies’ in your computer to ‘spy’ on what YOU do………

    Also he reminded us that those same ‘other’ countries that cried, when Snowden spilled the beans , help the NSA keep a wide net around the planet and gladly accept intel from our fishing….

    The President is keeping his oath to protect his country even if it does make us a bit comfortable…..

    • EW3

      Wish he felt the need to apologize to me, a US citizen, a veteran and no criminal history for collecting my phone records, email and Internet history without probable cause.
      I don’t think the ruling class appreciate the rights of US citizens anymore.
      And for the NSA – John has a long mustache.

      • wholewheatoast
  • jamesb

    make that Uncomfortable …Thank You…..

  • oblatt2

    If Obama had held up a sign saying “All American Products now With Anthrax” it couldn’t be more damaging to American IT industry.

    Already deals are being lost because the product is American and cant be trusted and in the end it will cost us trillions.

  • Flash Norton

    Why should he apologize? After all, he’s the Messiah who only wants whats best for the world community.

  • Liv

    Why should he? How is it that the media thinks the US the only country that does this? It’s funny how a blind eye gets turned about the fact that Snowden is in Russia, a country which would benefit the most from anything that makes the US look bad, and considering how consistent and streamlined these “revelations” are, most likely is manipulating the media, yet focuses on these stupid PowerPoints. It’s literally to the point of reliance that anybody with access could go in, write “Key Highlight: Collection on US Congress”, and boom there’s a story about the collection on the US Congress.

    It’s kind of sad how grasping the media is to anything.

    I am usually a reader, not a commentator, but for this, why is this on Defensetech? I want to see actually gripping articles of the defense world, I did for 8 years now. This has no place. If you don’t like the NSA, save it for the Guardian, but please don’t sully this site with your views. The title says it all.

    • oblatt2

      your fear makes America weak.

  • Mehrdad

    now i see he learned something after 5 years of his presidency,NOT apologizing to the world in expense of securing our nation …

  • oli
  • fhfdg
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  • greg

    More lies from Obama and his stooges.

    • UN14120

      I’m still a little astonished this site is out there. Real thought, consideration and debate.

      Since 2008, the 47% have taken over. Low grade information users regurgitating bunk that would make even the most ardent of tenants in hell or the most hardened grand duke in Kentucky shake their heads in wonder.

      Of course he doesn’t have anything to apologise for. The reasons the Countries ‘spied on’ didn’t squeal bloody murder is, it is routine protocol in the world. It is the way everyone gathers additional information. One doesn’t just get a travelers guide about an ally and trust they have ‘actionable’ intelligence to protect its people.

      Then there are the simpletons like ‘greg’ below. Steeped in a hatred IT {i refuse to reference IT as a human being because we all know the source of ‘its’ venom, racism} A quaint notion nurtured for the overfed and under-educated primarily by the likes of fixed noise.

    • The spying will continue whatever the administration.

  • jac

    If spying on your friends is ok, then could you please tell me why is it a crime to hack the government? one Rule for one rule for all. Whats good enough for our leaders should be the same for the people.

  • whoszat

    Obama claiming that the mail of innocent American citizens isn’t really seized because he hasn’t yet gotten around to reading it is like a shoplifter running from Macy’s with a coat, claiming it isn’t really stolen until she wears it.

    No. Sorry. The Constitution FORBIDS such activity. Seizure is to be individual, upon cause, for a specific suspected crime, for specific items, only with a warrant.

    President Obama, like all federal officers swear to uphold the Constitution.
    Apparently his oath was meaningless.

  • Hunter76

    Anyone who thinks their internet and telcom secure is a fool. And the US is far, far from the only snooper.

  • PolicyWonk

    Destroying our American way of life? Perhaps you should take the time to educate yourself. According to the National Intelligence Estimates, the previous administration caused the worst string of national security disasters of any previous administration by a long shot. How one might ask?

    – GWB gave Al Qaida a massive victory in what was supposed to be the Global War on Terror, by playing directly into Bin Laden’s hands, unjustifiable invading an arab/Muslim nation (Iraq), garnering Al Qaida millions of new supporters, volunteers, and donors of cash. And caused our nation to go broke doing it.
    – The previous administration also created policies that caused the transfer of 10’s of thousands of hard-won dual-use technologies to communist China, along with 8+ million jobs, and the manufacturing techniques. This was in return for short-term profits for his party’s donors, at the cost of the US strategic manufacturing base, and out national security.

    If you do your homework and take a serious look at what the previous administration did during that time period, you’ll find they caused more damage to the US in 8 short years than in 60 years of Cold War.

    The actions of the previous administration sounded good on top: but the incompetent execution of the GWOT was a disaster for the US.

    At least, if the opinions of all 16 US intelligence agencies carries any weight.

  • Peter Dow

    I think the President is absolutely correct not to apologise.

    Angela Merkel needs to kiss up to Susan Rice and Condoleezza Rice and stop trying to make out that she is the most powerful woman in the world.

    Such a claim makes no sense whatsoever UNLESS the Germans are planning on developing a German nuclear weapons program and that’s why we need to keep tabs on their telephone conversations and emails etc.

  • Colonel Mustard
  • Peter Dow

    Like I wrote

    “Who won World Wars 1 & 2 anyway? I think it was us! ”

    “Us” as in ALL the Allied nations and in those I include my own nations, the British and Scots. Respect to us all was implied and you missed my clues, Colonel Mustard.

    We all DID win the war. But the Germans didn’t – they lost, twice.

    Have I given you a CLUE yet Colonel Mustard?

  • Colonel Mustard

    My mistake Peter, the obviousness of your ‘clues’ eluded me. Though I do think bringing the matter of both world wars into the discussion is somewhat misplaced as I miss the relevance to the story at hand. Also for your future reference the Scottish were and still are very much part of Britain along with the Welsh & English, at least for the time being.

    • Peter Dow

      Well who won and who lost the wars matters as to who runs the states and the state security services and therefore the reasons why the state is collecting information about people and what the state does with that information.

      It makes a difference if the Gestapo want information to exterminate you, or the Stasi want information to persecute you or Susan Rice wants information to protect you.

      So Susan Rice is not doing anything that Condoleezza Rice would not have done so we ought to be more relaxed that they have the best interests and freedoms of the American and European people in mind and they are only after terrorists or checking to see maybe which states have a secret nuclear weapons development operation going on. That kind of thing.

      So we hadn’t have won the world wars, it would have been different people in charge of the state so quit whining when it is really nice people, smart, compassionate, tough defenders of the people like Condoleezza Rice and Susan Rice in charge.

      We won’t be safe with no-one looking after us – if terrorist are able to make their plans in secret and surprise us with a suitcase nuclear weapon let off in a big city – so really the question is who do you want looking after us?

      What’s wrong with Susan Rice? She’s lovely!

      • Thomas L. Nielsen

        “It makes a difference if the Gestapo want information to exterminate you, or the Stasi want information to persecute you or Susan Rice wants information to protect you” – Oh, but both the Gestapo and the Stasi were there to protect people. Against the perfidious, big-nosed, baby-eating Jews and the imperialistic, working-class-exploiting, capitalist lackeys respectively.

        “….so we ought to be more relaxed that they have the best interests and freedoms of the American and European people in mind” – As I said to “wholewheattoast” above: “In a free and democratic society, distrust of authority is not the right, but the duty, of the citizen”.

        “We won’t be safe with no-one looking after us” – we won’t be safe with someone constantly looking over our shoulders either.

        Regards & all,

        Thomas L. Nielsen
        Luxembourg

        • Peter Dow

          Well the Nazis told lies. They NEVER protected ANYONE, not German workers, not babies. Well maybe the Nazis protected some capitalists for a while who got rich building armaments and extermination camps – for a while before the Allies bombed their factories to rubble and they lost their capital.

          • Thomas L. Nielsen

            “Well the Nazis told lies.” – something the US administration, and every other administration in the world, has never done, right?

            Regards & all,

            Thomas L. Nielsen
            Luxembourg

          • Peter Dow

            Well maybe governments like people tell the occasional white lie to avoid embarrassment, because the truth hurts. Your young child’s pet dies and you tell your child that the pet has gone to heaven. It’s a lie. Everyone knows that pets go to hell when they die! ;)

            But Nazis were liars to their core.

            “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.” – Adolf Hitler

            It’s not the fact of that it is lie it is what the lie is, how horrific the truth is, how much danger you’d be in if you believed the lie.

          • Thomas L. Nielsen

            “governments like people tell the occasional white lie to avoid embarrassment, because the truth hurts. Your young child’s pet dies and you tell your child that the pet has gone to heaven”

            Very bad analogy. Unless you seriously suggest that politicians running a country should see the citizens as children, who “can’t handle the truth”, and don’t themselves know what’s good for them?

            “It’s not the fact of that it is lie….” – Yes it is. If you can justify lying for a good reason you’ll soon be justifying doing it for a bad reason.

            Regards & all,

            Thomas L. Nielsen
            Luxembourg

        • Peter Dow

          Hell the Nazis weren’t even National Socialists – the betrayed the German nation to the utmost, executing innocent German nationals and they were the most anti-social, anti-society, anti-socialist gang of society destroyer imaginable.

        • Peter Dow

          How can, no, how DARE you compare the ultimate in evil with the ultimate in good, Condoleezza Rice and Susan Rice?

        • Peter Dow

          I think if there was something not right with Susan Rice, Condi would say. I’ve followed Condoleezza Rice for many years and I have never known someone with such a truly divine character. What’s not to love about Condi and Susan?

        • Peter Dow

          You can’t have

  • wholewheatoast
  • wholewheatoast
  • wholewheatoast
  • UN14120

    I’ll just advise you now! What you just articulated is A CLASS FOUR FELONY! If you don’t know exactly what, you shall in the next couple of days.

    You will learn to keep a civil thought in your mind and not talk in public like you are talking to your peers or attending a town hall meeting put together by bachmann, santorum, limbargh, oreilly.

    You are going to learn what it means when we say for GOD and Country!

    • Uncle Bill

      I used to worry about assassination. Think about it. We’d have to lionize the pretender for the next three decades. Have to name every street Obama Boulevard. But now I don’t care. I’m sick of this descent into a police state.

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