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The practice of spying on foreign allies and partners is common, according to James Clapper, director of national intelligence. "As long as I've been in the intelligence business, 50 years, leadership intentions, in whatever form that's expressed, is kind of a basic tenet of what we're to collect and analyze," he told the House Select Intelligence Committee on Oct. 29. Clapper said he "absolutely" believed that allies have conducted espionage on the United States and its intelligence services. "It's invaluable to us to know where countries are coming from, what their policies are, how that would impact us across a whole range of issues," said Clapper. "It isn't just leaders themselves. It's what goes on around them and the policies that they convey to their government," he said. The hearing followed the leaks of classified intelligence information by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that showed the extent of US surveillance activities. (Clapper-Alexander-Cole joint statement)