NSA tapped calls of 35 foreign leaders, reveals secret memo
Latest Edward Snowden leak suggests White House was urged to share contacts with US spy agency
THE National Security Agency monitored phone calls of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by another US government department, according to the most recent leak from whistleblower Edward Snowden.
A confidential memo, published in The Guardian today, reveals that one unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of 35 world leaders who are not named. These were immediately "tasked" for monitoring by the NSA.
The surveillance appeared to be a routine request rather than an isolated incident.
The NSA appeared to encourage senior officials from the White House, State Department and the Pentagon to share their "Rolodexes" of phone numbers of leading foreign politicians. However, the memo also says that the monitoring had produced "little reportable intelligence".
The memo is dated October 2006, halfway through George Bush's second term, and was issued to staff in the agency's Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID). "From time to time, SID is offered access to the personal contact databases of US officials," it states. "Such 'Rolodexes' may contain contact information for foreign political or military leaders, to include direct line, fax, residence and cellular numbers."
It added: "These are very important relations both economically and for our security, and we will work to maintain the closest possible ties."The Obama administration declined to respond directly to today's claims. It instead pointed to comments made in its Thursday's daily press briefing, where a spokesman said that the NSA revelations have "clearly caused tension in our relationships with some countries, and we are dealing with that through diplomatic channels".