It’s been revealed by unnamed White House officials that the NSA in a previously undisclosed program was authorized to tap various world leader’s phones and e-mails. The NSA’s spying program on international figures has resulted in angry responses from the international community, among them German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called President Obama over the weekend to address her concerns over the bugging of her mobile device. When confronted the NSA claimed that President Obama was not made aware of the surveillance, but a German newspaper said Sunday that there is evidence that President Obama was not only privy to the information, but was directly involved in the NSA’s activities as early as 2010. The source from Bild am Sonntag, a German media outlet, cited a “U.S. intelligence worker involved in the NSA operation against Merkel”, who said that NSA chief General Keith Alexander had told President Obama about the program in 2010. The diplomatic nightmare prompted Berlin to call in the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, a move that hasn’t happened since World War II.
It was reported by the Wall Street Journal that the program which involved the tapping of Merkel’s phone was halted after an Obama Administration review of the surveillance earlier this summer. According to the German media outlet, President Obama apologized to Merkel during the phone call, and said he would have stopped the tapping of her phone if he had known about it.
“(General) Alexander did not discuss with President Obama in 2010 an alleged foreign intelligence operation involving German Chancellor Merkel, nor has he ever discussed alleged operations involving Chancellor Merkel,” NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said in a statement via e-mail.
The details from Bild am Sonntag’s source not only differ from various U.S. official accounts, they seem to build a case of malicious and calculated attempts by the U.S. to extract material about Merkel’s activities. According to the anonymous NSA worker, President Obama ordered the NSA to build a “comprehensive dossier” on the German leader.
“Obama, according to the NSA man, did not trust Merkel and wanted to know everything about the German,” Bild am Sonntag said.
Caitlin Hayden, White House spokeswoman, declined to comment directly on the matter, saying that the U.S. was gathering intelligence along standard policy procedure, which is the same manner and type gathered by all nations.
The claim from the German magazine implicates Obama and the NSA went as far as starting a new tap on a supposedly ‘big-proof’ mobile phone Merkel began using this summer. If such allegations are true, the NSA program on Merkel and other world leaders trails further into the past than mentioned by U.S. officials.
Governments spying on each other is nothing new though- President George W. Bush tapped Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, after he declined to support President Bush’s war in Iraq. This policy of surveillance continued and was extended in 2005 after Merkel took over, says Bild am Sonntag.
Since the Edward Snowden fiasco, the NSA has gone into damage control, trying to limit the amount of diplomatic harm infliced on allies and strategic partners. The revelation of the extent to which the NSA and the Obama administration have gone in gathering intelligence has left little wiggle room for U.S. officials to ease the concerns of the American public and world leaders.
Written By: John Amaruso