from the is-that-really-a-big-deal? dept
To be honest, as with the spying on leadership of other allies like Germany, I really don't think this is that big of a deal in reality. This is what intelligence services are supposed to be doing: spying on foreign governments. The revelations may make for some awkward diplomatic conversations, but you can bet that pretty much everyone knew this was going on already.
The top secret documents derive from directly targeted NSA surveillance of the communications of French Presidents Francois Hollande (2012–present), Nicolas Sarkozy (2007–2012), and Jacques Chirac (1995–2007), as well as French cabinet ministers and the French Ambassador to the United States. The documents also contain the "selectors" from the target list, detailing the cell phone numbers of numerous officials in the Elysee up to and including the direct cell phone of the President.
Prominent within the top secret cache of documents are intelligence summaries of conversations between French government officials concerning some of the most pressing issues facing France and the international community, including the global financial crisis, the Greek debt crisis, the leadership and future of the European Union, the relationship between the Hollande administration and the German government of Angela Merkel, French efforts to determine the make-up of the executive staff of the United Nations, French involvement in the conflict in Palestine and a dispute between the French and US governments over US spying on France.
But, where this has the potential to get interesting is in the public perception. If the public gets angry about it, it can create international tensions, or lead to various other issues. But, on the whole, compared to spying on private citizens, it's difficult to get too outraged over spying on other governments -- even those deemed "friendly." You can bet the French are doing everything they can to spy back on the US as well.