AMERICA'S spying apparatus must be placed under "additional constraints", the White House admitted yesterday as the Spanish government expressed "serious concern" that electronic eavesdropping had targeted as many as 60 million phone calls in a month.
"We recognise there needs to be additional constraints on how we gather and use intelligence," said Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, as pressure grew on Washington from Europe to rein in spying operations that included bugging the phone of the German chancellor.
James Costos, the US ambassador to Madrid, was summoned to the Spanish foreign ministry yesterday to explain the fresh allegations, which were drawn from a stash of secrets stolen by the NSA security contractor Edward Snowden.
The White House has denied that Barack Obama had prior knowledge of the tapping of world leaders' phones, but spoke yesterday of new "constraints" as part of a "rigorous" intelligence review that was ordered by Mr Obama last August.
"Our review is looking across the board at our intelligence gathering to ensure that as we gather intelligence, we are properly accounting for both the security of our citizens and our allies and the privacy concerns shared by Americans and citizens around the world," Mr Carney added.
If confirmed, the interception of calls would mark "a rupture in the mutual trust" between Madrid and Washington, said Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, the Spanish foreign minister.
The rift between Europe and the US has led to some calls to hold up transatlantic trade talks and other forms of co-operation, including access to the SWIFT banking system, until a new protocol to limit NSA spying is agreed.
The concession from the US also came as two European parliamentary delegations arrived in Washington yesterday, with a German delegation expected later in the week, to discuss the allegations.
The article about spying on Spain was written for 'El Mundo' by Glenn Greenwald, who has worked with Mr Snowden to publish the revelations.
During the same month-long period, the NSA was also reported to have secretly monitored 46 million calls in Italy. Italian intelligence sources said they had "no evidence" to support the claim, which was made on Cryptome, a US-based website. (© Daily Telegraph, London)