Feinstein Condemns Spying on Allies, Calls for Immediate Intelligence Review

Decision Makers DEFENSE Hearing Senate Appropriations Dianne Feinstein
© 2009 Liz Lynch/202-744-8737
Stacy Kaper
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Stacy Kaper
Oct. 28, 2013, 1:40 p.m.

Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Chair­wo­man Di­anne Fein­stein, D-Cal­if., is­sued an un­usu­ally fiery state­ment Monday, com­plain­ing that the In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee was un­in­formed about the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency’s sur­veil­lance of U.S. al­lies, which she said was cause for an im­me­di­ate full re­view of all in­tel­li­gence pro­grams.

“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 press re­lease.

Fein­stein drew a dis­tinc­tion between the NSA’s col­lec­tion of phone re­cords through the For­eign In­tel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Court, which she sup­ports, and mon­it­or­ing calls of friendly lead­ers, to which she said she is “totally op­posed.”

Fein­stein said that such sur­veil­lance should only be per­miss­ible if the U.S. is en­gaged in hos­til­it­ies against a coun­try or there is an emer­gency need for such sur­veil­lance, in which case it should be up to the pres­id­ent to ap­prove.

Re­cent rev­el­a­tions that the NSA has mon­itored the cell phones of for­eign lead­ers, in­clud­ing Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, came to light from in­form­a­tion leaked by former NSA con­tract­or Ed­ward Snowden, who is hid­ing out un­der tem­por­ary asylum in Rus­sia.

“It is my un­der­stand­ing that Pres­id­ent Obama was not aware Chan­cel­lor Merkel’s com­mu­nic­a­tions were be­ing col­lec­ted since 2002. That is a big prob­lem,” she said.

Fein­stein said she sup­por­ted the White House’s an­nounce­ment that phone sur­veil­lance of al­lied lead­ers will cease but re­it­er­ated the need for a full re­view of all in­tel­li­gence pro­grams.

But later Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Coun­cil spokes­wo­man Caitlin Hay­den is­sued a state­ment that would not con­firm that sur­veil­lance on all for­eign lead­ers would cease, only that a re­view on the ap­pro­pri­ate pos­ture when it comes to heads of state had been un­der way since the sum­mer and de­cisions were still be­ing made.

“The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­view is on­go­ing so I’m not in a po­s­i­tion to dis­cuss the de­tails or the out­comes, but we have already made some de­cisions through this pro­cess and ex­pect to make more as we con­tin­ue,” Hay­den said. “The re­view is meant to be com­pleted by the end of the year.”

Fein­stein said that the events dic­tated a thor­ough ex­am­in­a­tion of in­tel­li­gence ini­ti­at­ives.

“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,” she said.

Sep­ar­ately, the Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee is sched­uled to vote on le­gis­la­tion be­hind closed doors Tues­day, in­ten­ded to add great­er trans­par­ency and ac­count­ab­il­ity to the NSA’s do­mest­ic sur­veil­lance of the phone and In­ter­net re­cords of mil­lions of Amer­ic­ans.

Fein­stein has ar­gued that such pro­grams are ne­ces­sary for na­tion­al se­cur­ity but fa­vors le­gis­la­tion in­ten­ded to en­hance the pro­gram’s cred­ib­il­ity, such as mak­ing clear there are ex­press lim­its on ac­cess to such in­form­a­tion.

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