Files stolen by Eric Snowden reveal that the NSA spied on world leaders after being given their private numbers by a member of the Obama administration. The confidential memo shows that the NSA encouraged administration officials to share their Rolodexes in order to expand their base of spying on foreign leaders and their governments.
The document notes that one official turned over 200 numbers including the numbers of 35 world leaders. These were immediately sent out for monitoring by the NSA.
The newest revelation is bound to cause tensions between the Obama White House and leaders of the rest of the world. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is said to be livid over reports that her mobile phone has been used for spying. Obama has denied the charge but a denial by Obama on anything does not carry much weight these days. Jay Carney also denied the US is spying on Merkel. His denial is worth as much as President Obama's.
The Guardian revealed from documents provided by Snowden that this is not an isolated incident. The NSA regularly monitors the phones of foreign leaders and often ask for help from administration officials for help. The original memo is dated October of 2006, but the 200 numbers handed over to the NSA occurred under the current administration. The NSA claims that using the numbers provided by administration sources, allows them to gain other numbers that can be immediately tasked out. (added to surveillance)
The memo acknowledges that very little information has been gained through such surveillance and that the gain was far outweighed by the strains in diplomatic damage. The NSA asked it's analysts to think about the customers they serve and whether they would be a possible source for numbers.
"This success leads S2 [signals intelligence] to wonder if there are NSA liaisons whose supported customers may be willing to share their 'Rolodexes' or phone lists with NSA as potential sources of intelligence. S2 welcomes such information!"
"From time to time, SID is offered access to the personal contact databases of US officials. Such 'Rolodexes' may contain contact information for foreign political or military leaders, to include direct line, fax, residence and cellular numbers."
The Guardian asked the administration about the newest revelations, which they refused to acknowledge. Officials declined to respond, but did refer them to the statements made by White House spokesman, Jay Carney.
NSA spying started during the Bush years and became much more wide spread once Obama took office. Both failed to head off a program that could turn into a diplomatic crises for the country.
Multiple sources denied that the US had spied on Merkel's cell phone, but unbeknownst to them, German magazine, Der Spiegel had supplied Merkel with a recent US document that contained her cell phone number.
In diplomatic circles, trust is the coin of the realm and the US already have trouble with several South American countries, France, Italy, and now Germany.