By LORI MAHONEY and ANNE HANNENSTAD article June 11, 2018 12:06:36 A former senior intelligence official, who is in the process of leaving the agency, said the National Security Agency (NSA) was collecting vast amounts of data about foreign leaders’ personal emails and phone calls.
The NSA was tapping into the servers of some of the world’s largest Internet companies, including Google, Facebook and Twitter, he told The Washington Post.
But the former official, whose identity is protected by the agreement to discuss private conversations, said he was unable to provide specific details about the agency’s tactics.
The former official said that in some cases, the agency was monitoring the personal communications of U.N. ambassadors or other senior U.K. officials, while in other cases, it was tapping the servers and the mobile phones of top officials from the countries where the diplomats were based.
He said the agency also used techniques that were not well understood by officials and that it may have been collecting intelligence that was inappropriate or was being used in ways that were inappropriate to target a specific country.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said the former senior official.
“This is a program that was not well thought out.”
The former senior U and U. K. official said the United States had been targeting senior leaders in countries like China and Russia since the 1960s, but that there were other instances when the agency had targeted foreign leaders before.
The United States has been trying to change its surveillance tactics, including the use of technology that has been around for decades, he said.
“We’re going to be very aggressive with this program.
We are going to push back.”
The spy agency has previously denied spying on U.s. diplomats, but the former intelligence official said there had been instances when they were targeted.
The current official said it was difficult to estimate the amount of data the NSA was collecting because there were so many of them.
The new official also said it had been difficult to get U. N. officials to discuss the program publicly because they were so afraid of being exposed.
“They would tell me they weren’t comfortable speaking publicly about it,” he said of U N. diplomats.
“There’s not a lot of leeway to do that.
But we know that we are now going to have a very open conversation about this.”
The Washington Free Beacon previously reported that the NSA had been collecting phone calls, emails and other information from the servers belonging to the embassies of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the United Nations.
The Associated Press was unable for comment Friday.
The U. S. government has said it has no plans to shut down the program.
The officials familiar with the matter said the government would only stop the program if it became known that a member of the Obama administration had been tapped, which it did not.
The Obama administration has long been reluctant to discuss whether U. s. diplomats were spied on or whether the information was being shared in ways not authorized by law.
But some senior officials have said the administration has failed to adequately defend itself against the accusations that it was spying on diplomats or even the Trump administration.
The administration has denied the allegations and insisted that the information being collected was solely for foreign intelligence purposes.
The retired senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly about the matter, said that some of it had gone beyond routine domestic law enforcement work.
The government had a “vast collection of information” about U. n. officials who had been targeted, he added.
“The intelligence collection on the Trump team was probably the most invasive and extensive ever undertaken by the United State,” he told the Post.
“I’ve seen reports that have been very detailed and very detailed, including details of the phone calls between members of the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence officers.
And there were several other instances.”
He said some of that intelligence had been shared with the Trump White House, but he did not have details.
The spy program was not revealed publicly until a U.n. official briefed Congress last month.
In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last week, former NSA Director Michael Hayden said the program was intended to “minimize the chance of inadvertent collection” of U .s. officials’ communications.
He added that there was no evidence the program had been used in violation of U law.
Hayden said in the hearing that there had never been a “systematic, deliberate effort” to intentionally spy on U .
He acknowledged that the United Kingdom’s GCHQ had been the first to use the technology.
But he said that had not been a problem.
“Anybody who has ever looked at the GCHQ collection on U n. diplomats or the GIS intercepts of communications from British officials should be able to see the obvious,” he added, “that