Washington : The Obama administration is considering ending spying on allied heads of state, a senior administration official said, as the White House grappled with the fallout from revelations that the U.S. has eavesdropped on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The official said late Monday that a final decision had not been made and an internal review was still underway.
The revelations about National Security Agency monitoring of Merkel were the latest in a months-long spying scandal that has strained longstanding alliances with some of America's closest partners.
Earlier Monday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called for a “total review of all intelligence programs.”
Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a statement that the White House had informed her that “collection on our allies will not continue.”
The administration official said that statement was not accurate, but added that some unspecified changes already had been made and more were being considered, including terminating the collection of communications from friendly heads of state.
The official was not authorized to discuss the review by name and insisted on anonymity.
As a result of the spying allegations, German officials said Monday that the U.S. could lose access to an important law enforcement tool used to track terrorist money flows. As possible leverage, German authorities cited last week's non-binding resolution by the European Parliament to suspend a post-9/11 agreement allowing the Americans access to bank transfer data to track the flow of terrorist money.
A top German official said she believed the Americans were using the information obtained from Merkel to gather economic intelligence apart from terrorism and that the agreement known as SWIFT should be suspended.
Feinstein said while the intelligence community has kept her apprised of other issues, like the court orders on telephone record collection, intelligence officials failed to brief her on how they followed foreign leaders.