U.S. intelligence officials said they will directly discuss with EU officials the new allegations, reported in Sunday’s editions of the German news weekly Der Spiegel. But the former head of the CIA and National Security Agency urged the White House to make the spy programs more transparent to calm public fears about the American government’s snooping.
It was the latest backlash in an almost monthlong global debate over the reach of U.S. surveillance that aims to prevent terror attacks. The two programs, both run by the NSA, pick up millions of telephone and Internet records that are routed through American networks each day.
They have raised sharp concerns about whether they violate public privacy rights at home and abroad.
Several European officials — including those in Germany, Italy, France, Luxembourg and the EU government itself — said the new revelations could scuttle ongoing negotiations on a trans-Atlantic trade treaty that ultimately seeks to create jobs and boost commerce by billions annually in what would be the world’s largest free trade area.
“Partners do not spy on each other,” said EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. “We cannot negotiate over a big trans-Atlantic market if there is the slightest doubt that our partners are carrying out spying activities on the offices of our negotiators. The American authorities should eliminate any such doubt swiftly.”
According to Der Spiegel, the NSA planted bugs in the EU’s diplomatic offices in Washington and infiltrated the building’s computer network. Similar measures were taken at the EU’s mission to the United Nations in New York, the magazine said.