NSA Targeted Israeli Prime Minister, Top EU Officials, Aid Groups

Another big Edward Snowden reveal: Between 2008 and 2011, the NSA and British surveillance group GCHQ targeted the Israeli Prime Minister, German government buildings in Berlin, officials from international charity organizations, heads of state from various African countries, and top-ranking European Union officials.

The documents, provided by Snowden to the New York Times, the Guardian, and Der Spiegel, detail surveillance operations from 2008 to 2011, covering more than 1000 targets in more than 60 countries.

The NSA and GCHQ spied on aid organizations including UNICEF and Médecins du Monde. "Our doctors and medical professionals, many of whom are volunteers, risk their lives daily in some of the world's most dangerous places, like Mali, Somalia and in and around Syria," Leigh Daynes, an executive director of Médecins du Monde in the UK, told the Guardian. "There is absolutely no reason for our operations to be secretly monitored."

According to one 2009 document, the agencies hacked the emails of several Israeli officials, including then-Prime Minster Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and monitored two Israeli embassies.

Olmert, for his part, did not seem bothered by the report. From the New York Times:

"This was an unimpressive target," Mr. Olmert said. He noted, for example, that his most sensitive discussions with President George W. Bush took place in private. "I would be surprised if there was any attempt by American intelligence in Israel to listen to the prime minister's lines," he said.

Britain also targeted several German government buildings, in Berlin and abroad, which, as the Guardian notes, might make things awkward for British PM David Cameron, who in October condemned reports that the NSA had spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone.

Joaquín Almunia, the vice president of the European Commission, was also monitored, according to the documents. Almunia, who is in charge of anti-trust issues in Europe, including cases involving high-profile American companies like Microsoft and Google, told the New York Times that he was "strongly upset" by the revelations.

The NSA was adamant their spying had nothing to do with the business interest of U.S. companies.

"We do not use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of — or give intelligence we collect to — U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line," Vanee Vines, an N.S.A. spokeswoman, told the Times.

The reports were released during an especially rough week for the NSA. On Monday, a federal judge ruled that the spy agency's phone data collection program was likely unconstitutional, and on Wednesday, a White House-appointed committee released a report suggesting substantial changes to the NSA, including discontinuing its metadata program.

[Image via AP]