Press Trust of India
Washington, 26 October: The USA has acknowledged that the recent leaks related to the Internet and phone surveillance of foreign leaders have posed a moment of “tension” with some of its allies but said the country will continue to gather information it needs to keep itself and its partners safe.
“There’s no question that the disclosure of classified information has posed a moment of tension with some of our allies. We’re having discussions with those allies. Those will continue, as is evidenced by the German delegation that will be coming here in the coming weeks,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Jen Psaki, said.
“Even in the past week, if you look at the Secretary’s trip, this is an issue that he discussed with the French and an issue he discussed with the Italians,” she said.
Ms Psaki added that the disclousure of classified information has led to criticism of American intelligence and has been a “public distraction”.
“It is no secret that over the last few months, these unauthorised disclosures of classified information have of course led to criticisms of our intelligence activity by many of our friends and partners.
It’s created significant challenges in our relationships with some of our partners and has been, of course, a public distraction,” Ms Psaki, said.
While the American capabilities in this regard are unmatched, the US Government is not operating unrestrained, she said, adding that the US President has directed the government to review surveillance capabilities, including with respect to foreign partners.
“We want to ensure we’re collecting information because we need it and not just because we can,” she said.
The White House has also created a review body comprising a group of outside experts to provide recommendations on these issues and is expected to conclude by end of the year, she added.
“They will consider as part of this how we can maintain the public’s trust, how the surveillance impacts our foreign policy, particularly in an age when more and more information is becoming public,” she said.
The USA, she said, will continue to gather the information it needs to keep itself and the allies safe.
“We of course will factor in the views of our friends and partners as we have those discussions with them, and we’ll continue to balance our security needs with privacy concerns,” she said.
The Obama Administration expects more allegations will surface given the quantity of classified information leaked by whistle blower Edward Snowden, the former CIA contractor.