According to The Guardian, the NSA has been monitoring the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another U.S. government department. This has all been revealed in documents provided by Edward Snowden.
The memo, given over by the whistleblower, shows that the NSA encourages senior officials in its “customer” departments (meaning White House, Department of State and the Pentagon) to share their rolodexes so that they could add phone numbers of foreign politicians to their surveillance lists.
This same document also notes that one official in particular gave over 200 numbers, of which 35 belonged to world leaders. All of this comes about after yesterday’s phone call from Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany to President Obama. She accused the U.S. of tapping her cell phone. Later in the day White House press secretary Jay Carney released a statement saying that the U.S. is “not monitoring and will not monitor” Ms. Merkel’s communication activities. This did not satisfy Berlin, where they immediately pointed out that this did not clear up any possible spying in the past.
The memo, which was dated October 2006, told officials that their rolodexes would help agency surveillance. From this document it seems quite clear that this was not an isolated incident.
When The Guardian approached the Obama administration for answers, the White House simply responded with comments Jay Carney had made in today’s press conference saying, “The [NSA] revelations have clearly caused tension in our relationships with some countries, and we are dealing with that through diplomatic channels. These are very important relations both economically and for our security, and we will work to maintain the closest possible ties."
As more news develops all we know for sure is that this is bound to have major repercussions for our international relations. Trust is extremely important when dealing with foreign leaders and the last thing we need to be doing is jeopardizing that. Our allies are extremely important to our world standing and with our integrity being questioned, we must be aware of how this looks.
Now all we can wait on is to find who these leaders are and what kind of surveillance we got from them.