White House: We Collect Information Like All Other Countries
The White House refused on Friday to respond in detail to reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) had spied on former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, former Defense Minister Ehud Barak and current Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Leaked documents by Edward Snowden which were exposed by various news outlets show that spies monitored the email traffic of several Israeli officials, including one target identified as “Israeli prime minister,” followed by an email address.
When asked by Israel’s Channel 10 News about the information in the leaked documents, the White House said that "we do not intend to publicly address any intelligence activity of any kind.”
“As a matter of general policy, we have made clear that the United States collects intelligence information similar to the information collected by all other countries,” said the White House response.
An official Israeli response to the reports on the leaks has not yet been published, but senior Israeli government officials told Channel 2 News on Friday evening, "We did not fall off the chair as a result of the disclosures.”
Earlier, Olmert told the New York Times in response to the disclosure that the email address was used for correspondence with his office, which he said staff members often handled. He added that it was unlikely that any secrets could have been compromised.
“This was an unimpressive target,” Olmert told the newspaper. He noted that his most sensitive discussions with President George W. Bush took place in private.
The United States government has faced criticism from abroad and at home over revelations regarding its spy programs, including reports that the NSA monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders.
In October, former Mossad head Danny Yatom said that it is very likely that American spy agencies are listening in on Israeli leaders’ phone calls, as they are accused of having done in Germany and dozens of other countries.
“It could very well be that it happened here, too, because when the Americans think they need to listen in on someone, that’s what they do,” he stated.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)