U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., returned this week from Europe where he helped lead an international security forum on intelligence procedures and protections.
The three-day trip included two days in Vienna meeting with 90 members of parliament from 24 European nations and one day in Berlin talking to German leaders.
Pittenger delivered the opening and closing remarks. He spoke of the need for trust among allies as they face common adversaries and the critical role of intelligence for their mutual security, his staff said. He was joined by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, along with other Congressional leaders working on intelligence, foreign affairs, and oversight committees.
The European forum was a follow up to last year’s meetings in Washington organized by Pittenger, where European leaders shared concerns about U.S. surveillance programs and common goals to fight terrorism.
U.S.-German relations have been tested since it was revealed by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor, that Americans were spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other allies.
While the German members of parliament continue to have concerns, Pittenger said the meetings in the United States and Europe helped open more dialogue among leaders. The chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warefare said members of European parliaments now have a greater understanding of the United States' safeguards for privacy and civil liberties.
“What has been bridged is a much better understanding of our position and our commitments to privacy apart from what they read in the paper,” Pittenger said.