President Obama spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday to reassure her that the U.S. "is not monitoring” her communications, White House press secretary Jay Carney announced.
Carney told reporters on Tuesday that Obama and Merkel spoke by telephone about allegations that the National Security Agency had spied on the German leader's cell phone.
Obama “assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor.”
“The United States is reviewing the way that we gathered the intelligence to make sure that we balance the security concerns of our citizens and allies and the privacy concerns everyone shares,” Carney added.
Carney sidestepped a question about whether the NSA had inadvertently picked up any of Merkel’s phone communications in the past, saying only that the U.S is reviewing its surveillance programs.
The report that the NSA may have monitored the German leader is the latest embarrassing disclosure about the security agency's secret surveillance of phone and internet traffic after former government contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified documents.
The Obama administration has had to deal with the fallout from both congressional lawmakers who say they were unaware of the scope of the NSA’s surveillance and from foreign allies who were the targets of the snooping.
President Obama spoke to French President François Hollande earlier this week to address his “legitimate concerns” after a report in Le Monde said the NSA had intercepted 70 million phone calls of French citizens over a one-month period.
Obama has defended the NSA programs publicly, saying that they thwarted terror attacks and helped save lives. But he has also vowed to bring more transparency and oversight to the intelligence community.
Carney said Obama told Merkel that the U.S. “greatly values” its relationship with Germany and that the two leaders decided to “intensify further the cooperation between our intelligence services.”