America’s top spy chiefs face Congress on Tuesday over fresh allegations the United States has been eavesdropping on European leaders and citizens.
General Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency, will appear before a Senate intelligence committee to explain why it was not informed.
His testimony will cover NSA programs and potential changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which regulates electronic eavesdropping.
The most prominent target appears to have been German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose mobile phone was allegedly tapped by the NSA.
The disclosures have forced Barack Obama to promise reforms to ensure the NSA is kept under control.
In a US television interview the US President said: “they’re involved in a whole wide range of issues and we give them policy direction, but we’ve seen their capacity has continued to develop and expand and that’s why I’m initiating now a review to make sure what they are able to do doesn’t necessarily mean what they should be doing.”
A European parliament delegation is also in Washington in search of answers to the intelligence gathering operation which one MEP described as a “breakdown in trust”.
British Labour MEP Claude Moraes said: “Trust has to be rebuilt. We need to figure out why this kind of mass surveillance activity is happening and what kind of trust needs to be rebuilt.”
The White House has admitted that America’s electronic surveillance may have gone too far. Now it says it is looking at taking the “appropriate posture” for future operations.