White House spokesman Jay Carney said that with new intelligence-gathering capabilities, "We recognize there needs to be additional constraints on how we gather and use intelligence."
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Obama has full confidence in the director of the National Security Agency, Keith Alexander, and other NSA officials but that there needs to be a balance between the need to gather intelligence and the need to protect the privacy of people, Carney said.
After Obama and Merkel spoke by phone, the White House said the United States is not currently tapping her phone and will not in the future, begging the question of whether it had been done in the past.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that the NSA ended the program that involved Merkel after the operation was uncovered in a review that began during the summer.
The United States and many lawmakers have defended the NSA programs as crucial to protecting US national security and helping thwart militant plots. They insist the programs are carefully overseen by Congress and the US legal system.
The White House said the review of US intelligence procedures is well under way and specifically covers "our closest foreign partners and allies."
US Representative Mike Rogers, a Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee and a staunch defender of US intelligence agencies, said there are misperceptions about what they have been doing, although he acknowledged the EU parliamentarians who reached Capitol Hill to discuss the matter have legitimate concerns.
"It's important to understand that we're going to have to have a policy discussion that is bigger than any individual intelligence agency of either Europe or the United States," he said.
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