House Speaker John Boehner said today that the policy governing U.S. surveillance of foreign allies is currently “imbalanced” and that there must be a “thorough” review.
“I don’t think there’s any question that there needs to be review, there ought to be review, and it ought to be thorough,” Boehner said in response to a question from ABC’s Jeff Zeleny. “We’ve got obligations to the American people to keep them safe. We’ve got obligations to our allies around the world.”
“Having said that, we’ve got to find the right balance here,” Boehner added. “And clearly, there’s — we’re imbalanced as we stand here.”
Boehner appeared to endorse a call by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., for a “major review” into how the U.S. collects its intelligence. Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Monday that the present approach is flawed and that it is a “big problem” that President Obama was not aware of alleged direct surveillance of several allied foreign leaders.
Obama on Monday, in an interview with Fusion, refused to corroborate reports that the National Security Agency had tapped the cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel but said he was pushing a broad review of U.S. intelligence practices.
“I’m initiating now a review to make sure that what they’re able to do, doesn’t necessarily mean what they should be doing,” Obama said of the intelligence agencies and their capabilities.
Meanwhile, some lawmakers are pushing to mandate changes to U.S. intelligence operations. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., today introduced legislation that would end mass collection of American’s phone records and calls for more oversight of domestic surveillance authorities.