Cruz: Obama Treating Israel, Americans as Enemies with NSA Surveillance Program
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz on Tuesday accused the Obama administration of treating Americans and Israel as enemies after a report revealed that the NSA intercepted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conversations with members of U.S. Congress the past two years.
Speaking to reporters ahead of a campaign event in Cisco, Texas Tuesday evening, Cruz referred to a report by the Wall Street Journal that the National Security Agency’s (NSA) was ordered to continue the surveillance of Netanyahu and his staff, as well as monitor their conversations with members of Congress during the debate over the Iran nuclear deal.
“It is not surprising that the focus of the Obama administration would be on trying to intercept the communications of our very close friend and ally, Prime Minister Netanyahu or indeed, as the article suggested, that they may well have been sweeping in conversations between members of Congress because this administration views Congress, Republicans and sometimes even Democratic members of Congress as their enemy,” said Cruz. “And indeed at times, it seems like they view the American people as their enemy.”
According to the WSJ, the administration, pursuing a nuclear agreement with Iran at the time, captured communications between Netanyahu and his aides and swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups. Viewing it in the context of a “compelling national security purpose,” the Obama administration ordered the NSA to ramped up their surveillance of Israel as it suspected Netanyahu is readying to carry out a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. By 2013, the administration became concerned that Israel would sabotage the secret nuclear talks with Iran, the report said.
One tool was a cyber implant in Israeli networks that gave the NSA access to communications within the Israeli prime minister’s office, according to the report.
Cruz said the revelations were indicative of Obama and Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy “and their inability to distinguish friends from enemies.” Adding that the Obama administration has been “the most hostile and antagonistic to the nation of Israel in our country’s history.”
National Security Council Spokesman Ned Price pushed back on the report, stating that the U.S. does not “conduct any foreign intelligence surveillance activities unless there is a specific and validated national security purpose. This applies to ordinary citizens and world leaders alike.” Price added that the U.S. “commitment to Israel’s security is sacrosanct and backed by concrete actions that demonstrate the depth of U.S. support for Israel.”