President Barack Obama knew of the organization’s spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel – and approved of the efforts, a National Security Agency official has reportedly told a German newspaper.
The Economic Times writes the “high-ranking” NSA official spoke to Bild am Sonntag on the condition of anonymity, saying the president, “not only did not stop the operation, but he also ordered it to continue.”
The Economic Times also reports the official told Bild am Sonntag that Obama did not trust Merkel, wanted to know everything about her, and thus ordered the NSA to prepare a dossier on the politician.
The account could mean difficulties for the White House, given another report claiming Obama told Merkel during a telephone conversation last Wednesday he was not aware of the NSA’s spying.
The Economic Times cited Frankfuter Allgemeine Zeitung in writing that when Merkel called Obama last week to alternately complain -- and get an explanation -- about the NSA surveillance, the president assured her he wasn’t aware of the campaign regarding her, and would have halted it, had he known.
According to The New York Times, Susan E. Rice, the president’s national security adviser, insisted that Obama did not know about the monitoring of Merkel’s phone, during a call last week with Christoph Heusgen, Rice’s German counterpart.
The unnamed NSA official's allegations delve deeper into a Saturday report, published by the German magazine Der Spiegel, claiming the U.S. spy agency has monitored Merkel’s phone since 2002, or even before she rose to her country’s chief executive position and was only an opposition leader.
The revelations follow earlier reports of the NSA monitoring phone calls made by French and German citizens, an account prompting both nations’ foreign ministries to summon the respective American ambassadors to each country for an explanation. Much -- if not all -- of the reporting on the alleged spying scandal stems from documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden.
According to the Associated Press, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich was quoted Sunday as telling newspaper Bild am Sonntag he wants "complete information on all accusations" and that "if the Americans intercepted cellphones in Germany, they broke German law on German soil." He added wiretapping is a crime and "those responsible must be held accountable."
The Der Spiegel report also alleges the German leader’s mobile phone number had been part of a special surveillance list used by the NSA as late as this past June. Der Spiegel writes the nature of the alleged monitoring isn’t clear, or whether Merkel's conversations were recorded or her contacts scrutinized.