WASHINGTON, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Republican presidential candidates Ben Carson and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., attacked the Obama administration after reports the National Security Agency spied on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the NSA eavesdropped on Netanyahu during negotiations on the Iran nuclear deal. The surveillance captured Netanyahu's behind-the-scenes attempts to foil the deal by leaking details -- obtained through Israeli spying. They also captured coordination with Jewish-American groups, as well as talks with undecided lawmakers on what it would take for them to vote down the deal.
Paul was the first to criticize the administration in an appearance on "Fox and Friends" Wednesday.
"This is exactly why we need more NSA reform and the debate in Washington right now has been unfortunately going the other way, since the San Bernardino shooting, everyone's saying 'Oh we need more surveillance of Americans,'" Paul told the hosts. "In reality, what we need is more targeted surveillance. I'm not against surveillance, but I am against indiscriminate surveillance."
Carson released a statement Wednesday calling the spying "truly disgraceful."
"Instead of focusing on deterring the Iran nuclear threat and fighting against the Mullahs who chant 'Death to America,' President Obama has treated Israel, our staunch, democratic ally in the Middle East, as his real enemy," the statement said. "Not only did he not curtail surveillance on our close friend, he has once again proven himself to be a president that our enemies need not fear and our friends cannot trust."
Paul has been a longtime opponent of NSA surveillance programs. In Carson's recent book, A More Perfect Union , he blasted the NSA's bulk data collection programs that were exposed by NSA contractor Edward Snowden:
"Surreptitiously tracking phone calls, purchasing activity, web site visitation history, and a host of other activities is tantamount to the illegal search and seizure forbidden by the Fourth Amendment. The government consistently denied its involvement in such activities until it was exposed by an informant."
"I want to be very careful, I'm a member of the (Senate) Intelligence Committee, so obviously I want to be very careful about what I say about information of this kind," he said. "Obviously people read that report they have a right to be concerned about it this morning. They have a right to be concerned about the fact that, while some leaders around the world are no longer being targeted, our strongest ally in the Middle East, Israel, is. These are all concerns and they're legitimate."
Politico reported Wednesday evening that the House Oversight Committee has requested the NSA brief them on communications between Israeli government officials and members of congress, which were also captured.