The National Security Agency has been monitoring the conversations of at least 35 world leaders, according to a document provided to The Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden—a new revelation that will likely add to the ongoing furor over the U.S. surveillance of other governments.
According to the documents, U.S. officials from a bevy of departments "who mixed with world leaders and politicians" are routinely called upon by the NSA to hand over contacts and phone numbers of those officials.
Included in the "Rolodexes or phone lists" collected by NSA analysts from "customer" departments, such as the White House, State Department and the Pentagon, was the communication info for 35 thus far unnamed world leaders, leading to the surveillance of their phone calls, according to the documents.
The revelation comes amongst growing tensions between the U.S. and leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico, over ongoing NSA stories that have shown the U.S. has continuously and vigorously kept a close eye on the communications of those governments.
The National Security Agency monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another US government department, according to a classified document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The confidential memo reveals that the NSA encourages senior officials in its "customer" departments, such the White House, State and the Pentagon, to share their "Rolodexes" so the agency can add the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians to their surveillance systems.
The document notes that one unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of the 35 world leaders, none of whom is named. These were immediately "tasked" for monitoring by the NSA.
"In one recent case," the document states, "a US official provided NSA with 200 phone numbers to 35 world leaders … Despite the fact that the majority is probably available via open source, the PCs [intelligence production centers] have noted 43 previously unknown phone numbers. These numbers plus several others have been tasked."