NSA Defender Feinstein Blasts Spying on Allies

The Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman calls for “a total review of all intelligence programs”

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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a steadfast defender of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance programs, said she is “totally opposed” Monday to the agency spying on allied countries.

“Unless the United States is engaged in hostilities against a country or there is an emergency need for this type of surveillance, I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers. The president should be required to approve any collection of this sort,” Feinstein said.

The NSA’s foreign spying activities have come under close scrutiny in recent days, after documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the agency had eavesdropped on the cell phones of at least 35 leaders of foreign governments, possibly including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Feinstein said “the Senate Intelligence Committee was not satisfactorily informed” of the NSA’s policy of spying on allied leaders and that “a total review of all intelligence programs” is in order.

Feinstein said she had been informed by the White House that “collection on our allies will not continue.”