The National Security Agency routinely monitors the phone calls of world leaders, The Guardian reports.
A secret memo provided to the Guardian by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden 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 NSA is the U.S. goverment’s signals intelligence agency.
The latest revelation comes after German Chancellor Angela Merkel called out President Obama this week for the U.S. monitoring of her mobile phone calls.
“The document notes that one unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of the 35 world leaders, none of whom is named,” reports the Guardian.
The memo, dated for October 2006, was issued to staff members in the agency’s Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID). It also notes that the program provides “little actionable intelligence.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney attempted to quell growing concern during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
“I can tell you that the president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor,” he said.
The Guardian first began publishing reports in June on the secret documents provided by Snowden, igniting a firestorm of criticism against the U.S. government and the West over the NSA’s global Internet and phone surveillance programs.
Anti-surveillance activists will protest the NSA’s spying in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.
Allison Coyle contributed to this report.