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The National Security Agency (NSA) swept up conversations with U.S. lawmakers as it monitored lobbying on the Iran nuclear deal by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his aides.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the Obama administration decided to keep monitoring Netanyahu and Israel even as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other NATO heads of state were considered off limits.
Netanyahu reportedly remained a top priority for the snooping, according to the report, despite President Obama saying two years ago he would curb eavesdropping on allies.
The Journal also reported that White House officials were worried when they realized the NSA was collecting conversations with lawmakers. It said the administration decided to let the NSA decide what to share.
"We didn't say, 'Do it,'" a senior U.S. official told the Journal. "We didn't say, 'Don't do it.'"
The NSA's snooping allegedly found Netanyahu and his aides leaked details of the negotiations gained through Israeli spying, coordinated talking points with Jewish-American groups against the deal and asked those lawmakers who were undecided on the deal how it could get their vote, according to the report.
The administration decided that monitoring Netanyahu served a "compelling national security purpose," according to the Journal, which cited unnamed current and former U.S. officials.
Netanyahu spoke out against a potentially unsatisfactory nuclear deal during a speech to a joint session of Congress in March. The U.S. and five other world powers reached a deal with Iran in July.
The Israeli leader has previously criticized U.S. spying on Israel, which was revealed in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013.
The Obama administration decided against monitoring Merkel and French President François Hollande but continued to monitor Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the report said.