Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel declined to comment on a string of embarrassing headlines outlining reports that the NSA, a part of the Defense Department, is actively spying on America's close Western allies.
Spanish media reported early Monday that the NSA monitored roughly 60 million phone calls in Spain, according to classified documents released by expatriate fugitive Edward Snowden. The phone calls took place between December 2012 and January 2013.
Hagel, while addressing reporters at the Pentagon alongside his New Zealand counterpart, would only say the U.S. respects and cooperates with its allies.
"I don't discuss conversations I have at NSC meetings," said Hagel. "I certainly don't discuss publicly discussions we have regarding intelligence."
The NSA falls under the jurisdiction of the Defense Department, but answers to the director of National Intelligence
"We are examining all the different dynamics that are out there, and the procedures and processes," he said. "We have a great respect for our partners and allies who cooperate with us and we cooperate with them."
"That's all I have to say," Hagel added.
New Zealand Defense Minister Jonathan Coleman visited the Pentagon Monday as a part of the U.S. planned transition to shift its international focus toward the western Pacific region.
"New Zealand isn't worried about it at all," he said. "We don't think it's occurring."
There is nothing in the New Zealand administration's private conversations it would be worried about sharing publicly, Coleman said, adding "We have high trust in our relations with the U.S."
Coleman also referenced recent political cartoons in his home country that target an absence of clandestine information there on which U.S. intelligence would want to spy.