The U.S. National Security Agency monitored the phone calls of 35 foreign leaders, according to a report on a leaked memo published Thursday by the Guardian.
The document, leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, encourages officials with contacts in other government departments, like the White House, State Department and Pentagon, to seek out “rolodexes” that include “foreign political or military leaders.” According to the document, which dates to October of 2006, more than 200 telephone numbers were handed over, including those of 35 unnamed “world leaders.” The phone numbers were then allegedly “tasked” for monitoring by the NSA. According to the memo “little reportable intelligence” was gathered in the operation and the numbers were not used for “sensitive discussions.”
These revelations come amid heightened tensions over alleged surveillance by the U.S. on some of its most stalwart allies, including France and Germany, where the disclosure of eavesdropping programs has earned rebukes from both heads of state. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose cell phone may have been monitored by the NSA, said Thursday that “Spying among friends cannot be.”
U.S. officials declined to comment on the document leaked Thursday, but White House spokesperson Jay Carney told reporters, “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.”