MILITARY

In debate to reform US surveillance, intelligence chief says allies spy on US leaders, too

  • Director of National Intelligence James Clapper pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, before the House Intelligence Committee hearing on potential changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Faced with anger over revelations about U.S. spying at home and abroad, members of Congress suggested Tuesday that programs the Obama administration says are needed to combat terrorism may have gone too far. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

    Director of National Intelligence James Clapper pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, before the House Intelligence Committee hearing on potential changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Faced with anger over revelations about U.S. spying at home and abroad, members of Congress suggested Tuesday that programs the Obama administration says are needed to combat terrorism may have gone too far. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)  (The Associated Press)

  • Director of National Intelligence James Clapper listens at right as National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, before the House Intelligence Committee hearing on potential changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Faced with anger over revelations about U.S. spying at home and abroad, members of Congress suggested Tuesday that programs the Obama administration says are needed to combat terrorism may have gone too far.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    Director of National Intelligence James Clapper listens at right as National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, before the House Intelligence Committee hearing on potential changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Faced with anger over revelations about U.S. spying at home and abroad, members of Congress suggested Tuesday that programs the Obama administration says are needed to combat terrorism may have gone too far. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)  (The Associated Press)

  • From left, Deputy National Security Agency Director Chris Inglis, National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Deputy Attorney General James Cole, testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, before the House Intelligence Committee hearing on potential changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Faced with anger over revelations about U.S. spying at home and abroad, members of Congress suggested Tuesday that programs the Obama administration says are needed to combat terrorism may have gone too far. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

    From left, Deputy National Security Agency Director Chris Inglis, National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Deputy Attorney General James Cole, testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, before the House Intelligence Committee hearing on potential changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Faced with anger over revelations about U.S. spying at home and abroad, members of Congress suggested Tuesday that programs the Obama administration says are needed to combat terrorism may have gone too far. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)  (The Associated Press)

The U.S. intelligence chief says that nations do indeed spy on each other's leaders and calls it a longtime practice in the intelligence world.

National Intelligence Director James Clapper spoke Tuesday to congressional lawmakers weighing how to reform surveillance programs that have fueled bitter criticism at home and abroad. Clapper played down European allies' complaints about the U.S. spying on their leaders.

U.S. officials are nearly unanimous in saying they're ready to see if the scope of U.S. spying remains necessary a dozen years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The head of the National Security Agency, Gen. Keith Alexander, told the House Intelligence Committee that a surveillance sweep on phone records overseas that has prompted an anti-American backlash was carried out by European governments, not the U.S.