Report: NSA Monitored Phones of 35 Foreign Leaders

New eavesdropping revelations come amid heightened tensions between the US and key allies over alleged surveillance

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Glenn Greenwald / Laura Poitras / The Guardian / Reuters

NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden in a still image taken from video during an interview by the Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong on June 6, 2013

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.”

[The Guardian]

14 comments
Tommy34684
Tommy34684

Who was president in 2006, Cheney or Obama?

billorights
billorights

Is it safe to say that the Obama administration underestimated the Russians?

Petty, arrogant, Jr. Marxist Community organizers.

If the administration can underestimate the Russians, can they underestimate the American people?

Probably.

The attacks on the political Right will ramp up and, at some point, the administration will take the bait and commit their last, brazen act and suspend the U.S. Constitution.

Go ahead.  Make your move.  Come and get it.

wdfc
wdfc

Didn't we already hear this news months ago? I guess as history repeats itself, so does news. Tell us something we haven't already heard/read.


harry1221
harry1221

I am not going to pretend to be upset about NSA listening in on foreign diplomats or international communications, or even domestic communications.  The U.S. has a long and successful history of code and communications analysis that has been of extremely high value dating back to the Washington Naval Treaty conference in the 1920s.  It is something we do well and which has served us well.  Those like former Secretary of War and State Henry  L. Stimson, who hobbled these efforts in the late 1920s with his philosophy "Gentlemen don't read each others' mail," are naïve fools.

Anyone who is surprised or "shocked" by the Snowden revelations needs a good course at the Joan Rivers School of Real Life.  In other words, "Grow Up!"

benzschoen
benzschoen

NSA is out of bounds and needs to be reined in. 9/11 has become the launching pad for the largest and most illegal spying on all friends, foreign and domestic imaginable. Since the health care legacy is off to such a dreadful start, the President might redeem himself by calling an end to this outrage as his new legacy. Blame Bush, blame Obama, but stop the NSA because our own KGB is now in place and just needs the wrong leader to change its mission.

drudown
drudown

The notion that the ACTUAL policy makers of THIS DIRECTIVE can or should remain anonymous tends to underscore how ludicrous and, indeed, self-sabotaging this Tea Party subversion of our government is for the People and strategic interests of the United States. Taken to its illogical conclusion, the State Action here affirmatively thwarts larger Diplomatic precedent with no Legitimate State interest, i.e., not unlike the carte blanch, warrantless spying on law-abiding United States citizens. Conspicuously, not unlike the "oh the horror of the ACA websites" narrative in the press, these "news" stories ONLY focus on the alleged "harm" of the policy: not once is there a rational call for an independent investigation…despite the desired "chilling effect" that the policy makers had in mind when this "Diplomatic IED" was put in place like a ticking time-bomb. 

Sorry, the game is up. There is no real threat behind the alleged "Al Qaeda boogeyman" that warrants or justifies this ongoing subversion of the legal precepts upholding the Bill of Rights, or the very fabric of Diplomatic unity between the United States, our trusted EU allies and Russia. We didn't ascend to this position in the World by being so easily susceptible to Foreign money corrupting the system. 

Whether it is directly injecting known cancer-causing agents into the groundwater Europeans, Australians or Americans drink via harmful "pre-fracking" fluids (see, e.g., 'Gas Land' documentaries), so too, has the injection of Foreign money from OPEC states in our respective political systems apparently "poisoned" our elected leaders' sense of Civic Duty and Duty of Loyalty to both the People and Constitution. 

Enough is enough. 

By the "paid for" Fairness Act-less Media's reasoning, the Separation of Powers is "powerless" to enjoin the most blatant breach of civil liberties in the entire history of our Nation. Like similar assertions that "our Privacy rights are gone because of the criminal acts on 9/11", such non sequitur logic fails to account for the FACT that our Founding Fathers were wiser and far more prudent than the (once mighty) Media conditions the People to believe. They put a system of Checks and Balances in place. It is up to a small number of upright, honorable citizens serving in different branches of our Federal government and/or the Several States to do what is right and true. What, our system of Criminal Procedure and 4th Amendment jurisprudence "went crashing down" with the WTC towers? Please. 

That is as absurd as the notion the State cannot "retroactively" capture Taxes owed to the State by Market Players or citizens to provide for the Common Defense and People's General Welfare. The express language of Article I, Section 8 controls as clearly at the express language of the 4th Amendment precludes such a blatant violation of Natural Law. Our Nation wasn't founded through work and sacrifice to have the "Decider" despotically transmute it into some Foreign Money alter ego, step by step, and then point to the dysfunction and "chaos" done by its own hand to purportedly justify Tea Party changes that are, as the evidentiary record shows, just another form of changing our system of government from one of Stare Decisis to "let's make a deal" (see, e.g., "Legislative Veto power trying to abolish the ACA" or "let's give 10,000,000 Foreign nationals 'amnesty' despite the express language of the Equal Protection Clause"). 

Perhaps the People needs to simply revisit our Supreme Court's precedent on what constitutes a "search and seizure" under the 4th Amendment. See, e.g., Berger v. New York (1967) 388 U.S. 41 ("any blanket grant of permission to eavesdrop without adequate supervision or protective procedures to limit course and scope of intrusion is Unconstitutional"); see also Osborn v. United States (1966) 385 U.S. 323. How is that "not the law" anymore?

Just this: it is intellectually honest for ANY elected official to even imply that the misrepresentations thus far to the People, Congress and Obama Administration about the ACTUAL COURSE and ACTUAL SCOPE of the NSA's activities- much less compliance with the Bill of Rights- actually coincides whatsoever to "what's been revealed so far". Moreover, away with this shopworn nonsense that "the Evil Doers cannot know how we are trying to catch them" blah blah blah. 

We are Nation of laws, or we are not. 

Away with this shopworn notion that, what, the "convenience" of violating the 4th Amendment is relevant to its Constitutional dimension? 

That is just more "law according to the the Decider", which turns the Bill of Rights on its head.

Please cite one rational reason why the State is not LAWFULLY bound to follow our Supreme Court's precedent instead?

"I think, as Justice Brandeis says, that apart from the Constitution the government ought not to use evidence obtained and only obtained by a criminal act [i.e., warrantless wiretapping/electronic surveillance]…it is desirable that criminals should be detected, and to that end all available evidence should be used. It also is desirable that the government should not itself foster and pay for other crimes, when they are the means by which the evidence is to be obtained…we have to choose, and for my part I think it is a less evil that some criminals should escape than that the government should play an ignoble part." - Justice Holmes, Olmstead v. United States (1928) 277 U.S. 438


john_rambo
john_rambo

Obama: All knowing,  All seeing.

duduong
duduong

@harry1221 

True, but when the US government tried  to slime China with hacking accusations, very few Americans remembered these facts.

adderworks
adderworks

@benzschoen Yeah, the NSA has gone completely rogue at this stage. They need to be broken up and people need to start going to jail over what they are doing.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@drudown

"We are Nation of laws, or we are not. 

Away with this shopworn notion that, what, the "convenience" of violating the 4th Amendment is relevant to its Constitutional dimension? 

That is just more "law according to the the Decider", which turns the Bill of Rights on its head."

You take a long time to get there but this. The story has always been the gross violation of the 4th Amendment's guarantee that "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

I wonder if the Beltway press would report on similar 1st Amendment violations of their right to report what they wish. Though I suppose that there's no need for that. Their publishers, editors and producers seem to be reliable enough to tell the public the story the our oligarchs want them to hear.

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@john_rambo Of course the documents being discussed are dated 2006, But don't that interrupt your moronfest.....


drudown
drudown

@shepherdwong @drudown 

When I was in law school a little over a decade ago, I was fortunate to have Yale Kamisar as my Criminal Procedure I and II courses.

Somebody in the (once mighty) Media should actually do some "reporting" and interview him on matters such as, among other things, (1) the fictitious notion that the NSA's activities do not constitute "seizure" under our Supreme Court precedent re same (see, e.g., "the Fourth Amendment itself shows that the search is to be of of a limited description- that is, within the warrant itself- in order to make the State Action lawful, and it must specify the place or effects to be searched and the person or things to be seized") Olmstead v. Superior Court (1928) 277 U.S. 438 and (2) under what possible contractual theory and/or construction can the 4th Amendment possible be construed to mean that the NSA (or Bush Administration putting unlawful program in place) to be "above the law" (aka the express language of the Bill of Rights)?

Enough of the GOP propaganda minister's "everyone should be popping champagne based on our work".

We either a Nation of laws, or we are not.

Either State Action comports with the Constitution, or it does not.

"After the event, even the fool is wise." - Viscount Symonds