The retiring director of the US National Security Agency on Wednesday defended the spy agency’s electronic surveillance and intelligence gathering on other countries.
General Keith Alexander made the remarks on "Special Report with Bret Baier" after the host pressed him about the revelations that the agency had spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone calls, press tv reported.
Alexander said other nations "fully comprehend" the agency's methods and mission in acquiring data. He stressed that such surveillance is necessary to keep the United States and its allies safe.
"In Germany, they know that NSA brings a great deal of information to the table to protect their country and other European allies," he added. "It's the right thing to do. We work together."
"At the end of the day, we know our partners collect on us at times. We know that's going to happen," Alexander, who is leaving the NSA this year, said.
Documents disclosed by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden have brought to light the scope and scale of Washington’s spying activities across the globe.
Snowden’s revelations showed, among other things, that the NSA has been eavesdropping on phone calls of at least 35 world leaders including that of Merkel, one of Europe’s most influential leaders.
Other documents also revealed that the US spy agency collects Americans’ phone records and tracks the use of US-based Internet servers by all people around the world.
The administration of US President Barack Obama has unveiled a proposal to change the way Washington spies on Americans’ phone calls.
The proposal would require Americans’ phone records to be kept by private phone companies and the NSA would need permission from a judge, using a new kind of court order, in order to obtain the records.
However, critics say the proposed reforms do not address some major issues regarding the NSA’s spying programs, like the collection of data related to online communications of people around the world.