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U.S. to Europe: Our snooping is the same as yours

The U.S. says it gathers the same kinds of intelligence as other nations to safeguard against foreign terror threats, pushing back on fresh outrage from key allies over secret American surveillance programs that reportedly installed covert listening devices in European Union offices.

Facing threatened investigations and sanctions from Europe, U.S. intelligence officials plan to discuss the new allegations — reported in Sunday's editions of the German newsweekly Der Spiegel — directly with EU officials.

But "as a matter of policy, we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations," concluded a statement issued Sunday from the national intelligence director's office.

It was the latest backlash in a nearly monthlong global debate over the reach of U.S. surveillance that aims to prevent terror attacks. The two programs, both run by the National Security Agency, pick up millions of telephone and Internet records that are routed through American networks each day. Reports about the programs have raised sharp concerns about whether they violate public privacy rights at home and abroad.

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