Posted on: 04:38 PM IST Nov 25, 2008
Washington:: The Bush regime spied on the private life of Tony Blair while he was the British premier, according to a US whistle-blower, whose claim could prove embarrassing for the two close allies.
Former Navy communications operator David Murfee Faulk, who had top secret clearance at a covert listening post run by the National Security Agency (NSA), said he saw a file on Blair which contained information of a "personal nature".
Faulk told American TV network ABC News that he had seen a file on the "private life" of Blair in 2006. The claim that US agents "bugged" Blair's private phone calls for years will be particularly embarrassing as there is understood to have been an understanding between the two close allies that such espionage would not be carried out.
Blair was given the code name 'Anchory' as his private telephone calls were routinely listened into and recorded. The closeness of the Bush-Blair alliance means that it could prove to be embarrassing for the two leaders.
"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 an ex-CIA chief.
Last month, Faulk and another former military intercept operator assigned to the NSA facility triggered calls for an investigation when they revealed US intelligence intercepted the private phone calls of American journalists, aid workers and soldiers stationed in Iraq.
While running the NSA, Gen Michael Hayden, now the CIA director, told Congress that the organisation's eavesdropping targets were carefully chosen.
"It's not for the heck of it. We are narrowly focused and drilled on protecting the nation against al Qaeda and those organisations who are affiliated with it," Hayden said.
A spokesman for Blair, who stepped down as Prime Minister in 2007, said there would be "no comment" on Faulk's allegations.