Reports from our guy Snowden.....who sits comfortably in Russia....indicate that thirty-five world-leaders were spied upon by NSA. The comments are in simple fashion....that around 2006....the NSA asked US government officials if they had any important phone listings, and someone ended up giving their special list of numbers direct to world leaders (thirty-five of them). So begins this chapter of NSA collections.
What you can surmise from this....is that the NSA likely has the number of each of the thirty-five, and knows the 500-odd folks who rountely call that number or the 500 that the world-leader calls. Likely the end of the story. You can speculate about the rest of the story.
The event likely works this way.....some oil baron is working up a deal and gets some important VIP to cough up the number to the President of Brazil. They call in....reference some code or important connection...and get five minutes with President so-v-so. If the President believes in the project....they pave the way.
The NSA guy looks at the calls of today....notes this new caller, and works to identify it to some oil baron. A case file is established and folks eyeball what the oil baron is working on, and the fact that he probably has the blessing of the President to proceed.
If you were President of the United States.....you could walk into a meeting with several American oil barons, note that you have privileged info, and "sell" it for some deal. The American oil baron calls up this other guy.....notes that he heard about some deal and wants a piece of the action.
So begins.....this comical new way of using intelligence, for commercial gain. The truth is....the NSA guy never sees this end of the funnel and if he did.....he'd question the whole logic of running this type of operation.
It's an interesting note here....there are only thirty-five of these numbers of significance apparently. If you are the President of El Salvador....you probably don't make the list. If you are the President of Nepal.....you probably don't make the list. If you are the King of Tonga.....you probably don't make the list.
Who else does this? That might be something of interest....but obviously Snowden doesn't want or think it's of interest. If a dozen other countries are doing the same thing.....then none of this spy-upon-spy business matters. The fact that a hundred-odd countries in the world operate some type of intelligence efforts....from crude to modern.....ought to make you sit there and think about the massive nature of things.
So as you sit there tonight and call your cousin Larry about this septic tank issue for the fourth time in a week.....you might want to think about the idea that the Russians, the Chinese, the Israel government, the British, the French, the Germans, the Japanese, the Italians, and the Swedes.....might all be collecting your data and listening in on the conversation. Maybe it doesn't matter.....but if Larry is hostile and anti-French.....it might not be a good clean database entry on you and cousin Larry with the French folks.