The controversy unleashed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began in June when The Guardian newspaper first reported on leaks about U.S. monitoring of phone calls. Since then, information about the NSA’s surveillance have threatened trust at home and relationships with U.S. allies abroad. Ray Suarez recaps the revelations.
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Europe's anger over surveillance activity by the United States is just the latest foreign policy disruption created by leaked information from the national security archives.
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden did the leaking. He's now in Moscow, resisting U.S. efforts to prosecute him for espionage.
Ray Suarez looks at the fallout from his actions.
It began on June 5. The Guardian newspaper in London first reported the National Security Agency has monitored millions of domestic and international calls by Verizon customers.
A day later, disclosures of a program named PRISM that gives the NSA access to servers of major Internet companies.
President Obama was quick to defend the surveillance.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:
Nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That's not what this program's about. They are not looking at people's names, and they're not looking at content. But, by sifting through this so-called metadata, they may identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism.
The president insisted the program didn't apply to U.S. citizens or those living in the U.S., but in late June, Stellar Wind was made public. The program collecting bulk U.S. e-mail records began under the Bush administration and continued until 2011.
On August 21, the NSA released court documents, acknowledging it had inadvertently gathered thousands of e-mails a year from Americans not connected to terrorism. Meanwhile, objections arose overseas with reports that the U.S. and Britain spied on diplomats during the 2009 G20 summit in London and that U.S. intelligence bugged the embassies of several key allies, as well as European Union offices.
STEFFEN SEIBERT, Germany (through interpreter): If it is confirmed that diplomatic representations of the European Union and single European countries were bugged, we must say that eavesdropping on friends is unacceptable. It is a no-go. We're not in the Cold War anymore.
On August 30, The Washington Post reported U.S. intelligence carried out more than 200 cyber-attacks in 2011 aimed at the likes of Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea. And, in September, a Brazilian TV newsmagazine reported the NSA targeted communications of President Dilma Rousseff.
PRESIDENT DILMA ROUSSEFF, Brazil (through interpreter): Meddling in such a manner in the life and affairs of other countries is a breach of international law.
Similar surveillance reportedly targeted Mexican President Pena Nieto.
Still other reports showed the NSA has cracked the security of international financial transactions, plus Americans' social media connections. And just today, a new Washington Post account said U.S. officials fear documents not yet made public could compromise relations with third countries that reportedly aided U.S. efforts.