Report: Barack Obama spied on Israeli PM Netanyahu
Wall Street Journal reveals the United States intercepted Netanyahu’s calls in order to monitor his campaign against the Iran deal.
By Elad Benari
President Barack Obama’s administration continued to spy after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, even after he announced two years ago he would curtail the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping program on friendly heads of state, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
Current and former officials who spoke to the newspaper said that the White House decided to keep certain allies under close watch and that Netanyahu topped the list.
The U.S., pursuing a nuclear arms agreement with Iran at the time, captured communications between Netanyahu and his aides that inflamed mistrust between the two countries and planted a political minefield at home when Netanyahu later took his campaign against the deal to Capitol Hill, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The National Security Agency’s targeting of Israeli leaders and officials also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups, the report said.
That raised fears, an “Oh-s**t moment,” one senior official said, that the executive branch would be accused of spying on Congress.
Over the past few years there has been a series of revelations related to the NSA’s spying program, most of which has been based on documents supplied by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Snowden’s leaks revealed, among other things, that the NSA had monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders. The documents particularly caused tensions with Germany, after Chancellor Angela phoned President Barack Obama and accused the NSA of monitoring her telephone conversations.
It has also been reported that the NSA recorded millions of phone calls in France, including calls involving individuals with no links to terrorism, and that the agency had collected almost 200 million text messages a day from across the globe, using them to extract data including location, contact networks and credit card details.
As for the spying on Netanyahu, White House officials believed the intercepted information could be valuable to counter Netanyahu’s campaign against the Iran deal. They also recognized that asking for it was politically risky, however, so, wary of a paper trail stemming from a request, the White House let the NSA decide what to share and what to withhold, officials said.
“We didn’t say, ‘Do it,’ ” a senior U.S. official said. “We didn’t say, ‘Don’t do it.’ ”
Stepped-up NSA eavesdropping revealed to the White House how Netanyahu and his advisers had leaked details of the U.S.-Iran negotiations to undermine the talks; coordinated talking points with Jewish-American groups against the deal; and asked undecided lawmakers what it would take to win
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