Update: Maybe Feinstein spoke too quickly on the administration's plans to deal with NSA surveillance on allies:
SAO says Feinstein statement that WH told her intel collection on allies will not continue is "not accurate"— Rosie Gray (@RosieGray) October 28, 2013
In a statement, an unnamed senior administration official explained that "While we have made some individual changes, which I cannot detail, we have not made across the board changes in policy like, for example, terminating intelligence collection that might be aimed at all allies." Later on Monday, The AP reported that the U.S. was weighing a decision to end the programs, but hadn't yet done so:
WASHINGTON (AP) — AP source: US weighs ending spying on allied heads of state; no final decision has been made.— Nedra Pickler (@nedrapickler) October 29, 2013
Meanwhile, Foreign Policy grabbed some pretty amazing quotes from anonymous NSA officials on Feinstein's apparent change of heart over the NSA's surveillance programs. "We're really screwed now," one NSA official said, for instance, adding: "You know things are bad when the few friends you've got disappear without a trace in the dead of night and leave no forwarding address."
Original Post: After a week of reports on the NSA's surveillance programs targeting the communications of foreign leaders, the Obama administration will stop the diplomatically awkward spying. Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein said on Monday that she was planning a "major review" of U.S. intelligence collection, adding that the administration would halt any remaining efforts to collect data on world leaders>
Feinstein, one of the early defenders of the NSA's PRISM program in the midst of a series of earlier stories based on Edward Snowden's NSA leaks, released a critical statement of the NSA's programs targeting friendly foreign leaders:
Unlike NSA’s collection of phone records under a court order, it is clear to me that certain surveillance activities have been in effect for more than a decade and that the Senate Intelligence Committee was not satisfactorily informed. Therefore our oversight needs to be strengthened and increased...Unless the United States is engaged in hostilities against a country or there is an emergency need for this type of surveillance, I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers. The president should be required to approve any collection of this sort.
Feinstein adds that the "White House has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue." Her statement is no doubt partially in response to a Sunday story in The Wall Street Journal indicating that President Obama just learned of the world leaders spying program this summer. According to documents from Edward Snowden, the U.S. has targeted German Chancellor Angela Merkel's communications for about a decade, meaning that Obama was in the dark about the NSA's activities for about 5 years. The NSA has also targeted dozens of other world leaders, not to mention millions of citizens in friendly nations, for surveillance. According to the Journal, the president told the NSA to stop spying on American allies once he was aware of it. Over the course of the past few months, that order was only partially implemented.