Did European intelligence agencies partner with the U.S. National Security Agency in the mass surveillance program which whistle-blower Edward Snowden exposed? If reports in the Wall Street Journal are to be believed, then the millions of tracked European phone records, which now threatens US' trans-Atlantic relations, were not collected by NSA but by intelligence agencies in those countries itself. This revelation by WSJ, timed before the head of NSA was due to testify before Congress, will help to take some heat off of the organisation and throw it back on European politicians who have been accusing NSA for spying on their citizens.
The WSJ report says that the U.S. has been silent about the cooperation and collaboration of European partners in the collection of these phone records so as to protect the relationships.
Accordingly to the WSJ report, "The revelations suggest a greater level of European involvement in global surveillance, in conjunction at times with the NSA. The disclosures also put European leaders who loudly protested reports of the NSA's spying in a difficult spot, showing how their spy agencies aided the Americans."
The newspaper quoted unnamed US officials, saying that the phone records were collected by the Europeans in war zones and other areas outside their borders. These were shared with the NSA as part of efforts to help protect American and allied troops and civilians.
Although the new revelations are not related to the charges against NSA spying on world leaders and close European allies, it reveals the extent and complexity of the relationship of U.S. intelligence agencies and intelligence set-up of other countries.
At Tuesday's congressional hearing, National Security Agency director, Gen. Keith Alexander, said the documents leaked by Mr Snowden did not represent data collected by the NSA or any other U.S. agency. The perception that the U.S. collected the data "is false. And it's false that it was collected on European citizens. It was neither."
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