Irish government checks for US bugs in NSA international scare

Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The Irish government is believed to have requested a Garda (police) investigation to check if it was being bugged by the National Security Agency.

A government spokesman told the Irish Independent that it did not comment on “national security matters.”

But the paper said reports earlier this year that EU leaders were being bugged prompted Garda checks on Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny’s phone.

Although government sources said there was no evidence of U.S. phone surveillance, and the taoiseach attempted to laugh off any suggestion his phone may have been tapped, Ireland has been alerted by growing European concerns over reports that the leaders of 35 countries were targeted.

The scandal includes widespread claims in the German media that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile was tapped by U.S. intelligence agencies as far back as 2002 when she was still the opposition leader.

On Monday President Obama ordered a review of US spying operations after Germany protested about the surveillance, as did Spain and France.  Obama said he wants to review security operations to ensure privacy is protected.

While attention in Ireland has been focused on the growing trans-Atlantic diplomatic fallout, Kenny described at an EU summit as “appalling” the allegations that Merkel’s calls were monitored.

“I happen to be the taoiseach of a small country. I think it’s an appalling situation if that were to be true,” he said.

Then, despite attempting to laugh off suggestions that his phone may have been tapped, he added, “I always operate on the basis that the calls I’m making are all listened to.”

Former European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton laughed off a question about what she thought the US would hear if they tapped Kenny’s phone.

“That’s a very interesting question. I don’t know. I’ve never really listened into Enda Kenny’s phone calls, so I’ve no idea. Hopefully they are not doing that,” she said.

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