Report: US spied on Blair, Iraqi president
John Byrne
Published: Monday November 24, 2008

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It's not just warrantless wiretapping anymore.

The National Security Agency spied on British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Iraq's first interim president Ghazi al-Yawer, according to a report Monday.

A former Army Arab linguist at the NSA told ABC News that he saw and read a file on Blair's "private life" and listened to "pillow talk" phone calls of Iraq's first president while working at a secret NSA facility in Georgia.

Last month, David Murfee Faulk and another former military intercept operator assigned to the NSA facility "triggered calls for an investigation when they revealed U.S. intelligence intercepted the private phone calls of American journalists, aid workers and soldiers stationed in Iraq," ABC News' Brian Ross reported Monday morning.

Faulk told the network he saw Blair's file in 2006, but refused to provide details, other than saying it had information about Blair's personal life. Intelligence services and governments sometimes keep files on elected officials -- known as control files -- in order to blackmail or force the hands of governments.

A spokeswoman for Blair had no comment on the report.

Unlike spying in the United States, collecting private information about foreign leaders is a common practice by US intelligence. According to ABC, the US and Britain have pledged "not to collect [information] on each other."

"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," one former CIA official told ABC.

Faulk, the linguist, said the intercepts regarding Iraq's former president included calls made to his fiance -- whom he later married. He said the calls were recorded by NSA employees in Georgia and posted on the agency's computer system for others to hear.

Faulk described the calls to ABC as "courting, wooing and pillow talk."

In a statement to the network, an NSA spokesman said the agency follows all laws.

Blair has also been fingered in some spying of his own. In 2004, one of his former cabinet members, Clare Short, accused the Bush and Blair Administrations of spying on former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in the run up to the Iraq war.

Blair refused to confirm or deny the accusation.