Secretary of State John Kerry surprised many reporters, as well as intelligence, law enforcement and military officials, when he conceded on Friday that some of the U.S. surveillance has gone "too far." The Obama administration has come under intense criticism from many world leaders including some heads of state from NATO allies, according to Josh Hollander, a former intelligence-division police detective.
Responding to increased questioning by major news organizations, Secretary Kerry admitted that at times the technological surveillance by the super-secret National Security Agency (NSA) "have reached too far."
However, Kerry quickly alluded to the Obama claim of ignorance when he added, "There is no question that the president and I have actually learned of some things that had been happening, in many ways, on an automatic pilot because the technology is there," Kerry was quoted as saying.
John Kerry, who replaced Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, found himself confronting reports that the U.S. spies had eavesdropped on cell phone calls by world leaders, including Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel. In Merkel's case, there are allegations that her office telephone was also "bugged" by U.S. spies and that the NSA collected data on tens of millions of phone calls in European countries.
In a direct contrast to statements he made while he served as a Senator during the Bush administration, Kerry actually defended the NSA's operations during the Obama administration, claiming that U.S. surveillance programs are an "effective counterterrorism tool" that has prevented Islamic and domestic terrorists from bombing buildings, hijacking or bombing passenger airliners, assassinating leaders, and murdering people since the NSA was able to "learn ahead time of the [terrorists'] plans."
President Barack Obama and members of his administration are being pressured by the international community since June after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden exposed the spy agency's massive surveillance program which monitors worldwide phone calls and Internet communications as part of the U.S. counterterrorism strategy.
"The Obama White House promised it will conduct a full investigation of its global intelligence-gathering operations, but many expect a continuation of most of the intelligence operations in spite of criticism," said Josh Hollander.