Sen. Rand Paul today sent a letter to President Obama asking if the National Security Agency or any other U.S. government agency monitored or received information regarding the Papal Conclave. The text of that letter can be found below.
November 1, 2013
President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
Recent media reports indicate that the National Security Agency (NSA) monitored millions of phone calls in Italy in late 2012 and early 2013, including calls made to and from a residence in Rome where then-Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio stayed during the conclave that would select Bergoglio, now known as His Holiness Pope Francis, to succeed Pope Benedict XVI.
I am requesting your prompt answer to a simple question: Did the NSA, or any other intelligence collection agency of the United States government, monitor or receive information from another party related to the calls of Pope Francis or to the conclave selecting the Pope in late 2012 or early 2013?
To be clear, when I request information about monitoring calls, I refer to the recording and storage of call content, as well as so-called metadata and also the bulk collection of phone numbers and the duration of calls.
While I recognize that the NSA has denied it, this allegation raises an important issue that can be easily resolved by you stating that the United States government has never collected or been the recipient of data or metadata during or relating to the conclave.
It seems unwise to risk diplomatic and political harm by conducting surveillance of little value to United States national security in monitoring the calls of Pope Francis or any other participant in the Papal Conclave of one year ago. I hope this is not true.
I look forward to a prompt answer to my question.
Rand Paul, M.D.