In October, ABC News reported that despite President Bush’s promises that the National Security Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program was aimed only at terrorists, the NSA frequently listened to and transcribed the private phone calls of Americans abroad. The network’s report was based on whistleblower interviews with two former military intercept operators.
One of the whistleblowers, former Navy Arab linguist David Murfee Faulk, told ABC News that he and his co-workers listened in on “hundreds of Americans” over the years:
Another intercept operator, former Navy Arab linguist, David Murfee Faulk, 39, said he and his fellow intercept operators listened into hundreds of Americans picked up using phones in Baghdad’s Green Zone from late 2003 to November 2007.
“Calling home to the United States, talking to their spouses, sometimes their girlfriends, sometimes one phone call following another,” said Faulk.
But it wasn’t just ordinary Americans. In a new report today, Faulk tells ABC that during his time working for the government, “U.S. intelligence snooped on the private lives of two of America’s most important allies in fighting al Qaeda: British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Iraq’s first interim president, Ghazi al-Yawer”:
David Murfee Faulk told ABCNews.com he saw and read a file on Blair’s “private life” and heard “pillow talk” phone calls of al-Yawer when he worked as an Army Arab linguist assigned to a secret NSA facility at Fort Gordon, Georgia between 2003 and 2007.
Though “collecting information on foreign leaders is a legal and common practice of intelligence agencies around the world,” former intelligence officials tell ABC News that the U.S. and Britain have a long-standing agreement “not to collect on each other“:
The NSA works extremely closely and shares data with its British counterpart, the GCHQ, Government Communications Headquarters.
“If it is true that we maintained a file on Blair, it would represent a huge breach of the agreement we have with the Brits,” said one former CIA official.
After ABC’s initial report in October, Senate Democrats promised to investigate the whistleblowers’ allegations. The Inspector General for the NSA is also reported to be investigating the allegations by Faulk and another former military intercept operator, Adrienne Kinne.