Nightly News   |  October 28, 2013

Obama promises to limit NSA’s extraordinary reach

The White House, under fire from closest allies, is taking a closer look at the National Security Agency’s vast data collection. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> good evening. among industrialized nations , spying is considered something everybody does but nobody likes to talk about. the problem for the u.s. right now is everybody is talking about it and each day seems to bring a new allegation concerning the extent to which the u.s. has spied on other nations, especially our a allies and friends. it's all coming from one man, edward snowden and the secrets he made off before he left as a u.s. intelligence analyst. now the white house is scrambling to soothe feelings while fielding questions about how much the president knew. we begin in washington tonight with nbc's andrea mitchell . andrea, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. the white house is under fire from its closest allies. for the first time the president is promisinging to limit the nsa's extraordinary reach saying what they are able to do doesn't necessarily mean what they should be doing. that likely means not spying on foreign leaders who are good friends and allies. across europe, an uproar today. the u.s. ambassador to spain under siege. called on the carpet to egs plain reports that the nsa was vacuuming up telephone data, tracking 60 million calls in spain in less than a month according to el mundo . germany called for an investigation into n srgs a's tapping of angela merkel 's personal cell phone . the interior minister said the chancellor was spied on which violates german law . he threatened to expel any u.s. diplomats involved. european parliament members from germle any and spain descended on washington demanding answers from committees and threatening sanctions.

>> it is not acceptable for example that spee naj on chancellor merkel and others.

>> we are asking ourselves if now the u.s. or nsa is considering merkel a terrorist.

>> reporter: the president didn't know merkel 's phone was targeted. is that possible? the diplomatic disaster based on leaks from edward snowden. i asked his intermediary speaking to us from rio. is it credible he would not know?

>> unfortunately it is credible. the nsa has become a rogue agency that really goes off on its own to do the whatever it wants. i'm not sure which is scarier, that the president did know and approved it and is now lying about it or that he didn't know and the nsa took it upon itself to the do that without the commander in chief being aware.

>> reporter: does everyone do it? experts say china and russia are notorious for spying. so are close allies like france mostly for industrial the espionage and israel for cyber war . but none come close to the nsa's data collection . president obama is the first u.s. president to use a blackberry, overruling objections from the cia and nsa.

>> knowing other countries would be interested in listening to his phone calls . he ended up with one of the most secure blackberrys on earth.

>> reporter: he won't give it up.

>> is the president still using his blackberry?

>> i have no change to announce in terms of the president's communications.

>> reporter: he loves the blackberry. tonight diane finestein ordered a review of all intelligence programs, the most sweeping since 9/11 saying she opposes spying on allied leaders and was in the dark about merkel . brian?

>> andrea, thanks.