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

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.