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Spain Reports NSA Tracked 60 Million Phone Calls In a Month

Spain Reports NSA Tracked 60 Million Phone Calls In a Month
Tue, 10/29/2013 - by Al Jazeera
This article originally appeared on Al Jazeera America

The National Security Agency (NSA) recently tracked more than 60 million phone calls in Spain within a month, Spanish newspaper El Mundo said Monday, citing a document reportedly obtained from former security contractor Edward Snowden.

Spain's government has said it was not aware its citizens had been spied on by the NSA, which has also been accused of accessing tens of thousands of French phone records and monitoring the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

El Mundo on Monday reproduced a graphic that it said was an NSA document showing the agency had spied on 60.5 million phone calls in Spain from December 10, 2012 to January 8 of this year.

It came a week after Le Monde reported similar allegations of U.S. spying in France and German magazine Der Spiegel reported that a document shows that the NSA tapped Merkel's mobile phone.

On Monday, the White House acknowledged that some changes could be afoot in Washington.

"We recognize there needs to be additional constraints on how we gather and use intelligence," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

“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,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a statement.

El Mundo's report said the NSA monitored the numbers and durations of Spaniards' phone calls but not their content. It said the metadata system used by the NSA could also monitor emails and phone texts, although those were not shown on the graphic.

The newspaper said it reached a deal with Glenn Greenwald, the Brazil-based journalist who has worked with other media on information provided to him by whistleblower Snowden, to get access to documents related to Spain.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Friday summoned U.S. Ambassador James Costos, who went to the Foreign Ministry on Monday. But Rajoy insisted that his government was unaware of any cases of U.S. spying on Spain.

Spain resisted calls from Germany for the European Union's 28 member states to reach a no-spy deal, similar to an agreement Berlin and Paris are seeking, though Rajoy said the country was looking for more information.

"We'll see once we have more information if we decide to join with what France and Germany have done," he told a news conference in Brussels on Friday.

"But these aren't decisions which correspond to the European Union but questions related to national security and exclusive responsibility of member states. France and Germany have decided to do one thing, and the rest of us may decide to do the same or something else."

Obama Unaware?

Days after the United States came under fire for reports that the NSA spied on Merkel, the agency said its director, Keith Alexander, had never discussed with President Barack Obama any intelligence operations involving the German chancellor.

"Alexander did not discuss with President Obama in 2010 an alleged foreign intelligence operation involving German Chancellor Merkel, nor has he ever discussed alleged operations involving Chancellor Merkel," NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said in an emailed statement.

"News reports claiming otherwise are not true," she said.

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

The NSA ended the program involving Merkel after the operation was uncovered in an administration review that began this summer, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The program involved as many as 35 other world leaders, some of whom were still being monitored, according to the report, which was attributed to U.S. officials.

Nine European Parliament deputies were visiting Washington beginning Monday to seek more information on mass surveillance by the NSA.

Originally published by Al Jazeera America

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