White House approved spying on allies, US media report claims

PTI Washington | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on October 29, 2013

The White House and US State Department approved the surveillance of some foreign leaders, a media report claimed today amidst official assertions that President Barack Obama was unaware of the spying operations.

In an investigative story, the Los Angeles Times today said that the officials of National Security Agency (NSA) are “angry” on the assertions being made by the White House that Obama was not aware about its surveillance of foreign leaders.

Based on the documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, a former CIA contractor, media reports have said that the NSA tapped on the cellphone communications of foreign leaders of as many as 35 countries including that of Germany and France resulting in outrage in European countries.

According to the LA Times, precisely how the surveillance is conducted is unclear, but if a foreign leader is targeted for eavesdropping, the relevant US ambassador and the National Security Council staffer at the White House who deals with the country are given regular reports.

The daily said its report is based on interviews with two former senior intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in discussing classified information.

Obama may not have been specifically briefed on NSA operations targeting a foreign leader’s cellphone or email communications, one of the officials said.

“But certainly the National Security Council and senior people across the intelligence community knew exactly what was going on, and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous,” the official was quoted as saying by the daily.

If US spying on key foreign leaders was news to the White House, current and former officials said, then White House officials have not been reading their briefing books.

“Some US intelligence officials said they were being blamed by the White House for conducting surveillance that was authorised under the law and utilised at the White House,” the daily reported.

“People are furious,” a senior intelligence official who would not be identified discussing classified information, told The LA Times.

“This is officially the White House cutting off the intelligence community,” the official added.

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Published on October 29, 2013
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