President Obama told the German people Monday to give the U.S. “the benefit of the doubt” on American spying and surveillance efforts.
At a press conference alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr. Obama acknowledged that NSA snooping programs have damaged U.S. relationships with allies such as Germany. But the president also said he it’s unfair to assume the worst about America.
“What I would ask would be that the German people recognize that the United States has always been on the forefront of trying to promote civil liberties, that we have traditions of due process that we respect, that we have been a consistent partner of yours in the course of the last 70 years and certainly the last 25 years in reinforcing the values we share,” he said. “So, occasionally, I would like the Germans to give us the benefit of the doubt, given our history, as opposed to assuming the worst.”
U.S.-German tensions peaked last summer when Germany opened a formal inquiry into whether the NSA tapped Ms. Merkel’s cellphone. The alleged phone tap hasn’t been proven, but the incident still drove a temporary wedge between the two allies.
For her part, Ms. Merkel took the high road and complimented U.S. intelligence-gathering efforts.
“The institutions of the United States of America have provided us and still continue to provide us with very significant, very important information that also ensured our security. We don’t want to do without this,” she said.