Monday 24 November 2008
by: Press Association, The Guardian UK
A former US navy communications operator claims that the US kept a file on Tony Blair's "private life." (Photo: Getty Images)
US intelligence officials kept a file on former prime minister Tony Blair's "private life", a former US navy communications operator claimed today.
David Murfee Faulk, who worked at a listening post in Fort Gordon, Georgia, told ABCNews.com he saw the file on Blair in 2006.
But he refused to provide details of what the file, held in an intelligence database called Anchory, contained, other than to say it was a file on his "private life" and included information of a personal nature.
Faulk also said he heard "pillow talk" phone calls of Iraq's first interim president, Ghazi al-Yawer, another key US ally, when he worked as a US Army Arab linguist assigned to a US National Security Agency (NSA) facility at Fort Gordon, Georgia, between 2003 and 2007.
While not illegal to collect information on foreign leaders, the US and the UK have pledged "not to collect on each other", several former US intelligence officials told ABC.
The NSA works closely and shares data with its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
"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 said.
In the case of the former Iraqi president, Faulk said the phone calls were to al-Yawer's fiance, Nasrin Barwari, the minister of public works in the interim government, whom he later married.
Faulk described the al-Yawer calls as "courting, wooing and pillow talk".
Al-Yawer was the first president of Iraq's interim government between 2004 and 2005.
At the same time US intelligence was monitoring al-Yawer's private calls, George Bush said he was "really honoured" to be greeting him at a meeting in the Oval Office.
A spokesman for the NSA told ABC News the agency followed all the laws but declined to comment on the specifics of Faulk's allegations.
Last month, Faulk was one of two men who revealed that US intelligence officials intercepted the private phone calls of American journalists, aid workers and soldiers stationed in Iraq.