NSA monitored 35 world leaders’ phone calls
A confidential memo leaked by Edward Snowden has revealed how the National Security Agency (NSA) snooped on as many 35 world leaders’ phone conversations as far back as 2006.
The memo states that the NSA obtained the numbers from an unnamed official in another US state department, who apparently handed over 200 names to the NSA, 35 of whom are thought to be top ranking politicians.
The revelations will only add to the furore after German chancellor Angela Merkel publicly accused the US of tapping her communications amid an important EU summit of leading politicians. The shocking extent of the NSA’s surveillance, possibly even on the most senior politicians of some of the US’s closest allies has really ramped up international tensions.
Angela Merkel expressed her disgust, saying: “We need to have trust in our allies and partners, and this must now be established once again. I repeat that spying among friends is not at all acceptable against anyone, and that goes for every citizen in Germany.”
The US was unequivocal in its response, with the White House releasing a statement to the effect that the US “is not monitoring and will not monitor” Merkel’s communications, but the statement failed to deny it had been done in the past.
The memo also revealed how the NSA encouraged other departments such as the White House and the Pentagon to share their “rolodexes” so that the NSA could add them to their surveillance systems.
The memo seems to suggest the practice was widespread, but perhaps most alarmingly acknowledges that the “tasking” of foreign politicians had previously provided “little reportable intelligence,” which really begs the question as to what benefits the NSA is gaining from spying on US allies.