Which is Worse…Obama is Lying about Not Knowing NSA Eavesdropping Details or that he Really Didn’t Know?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Barack Obama and Angela Merkel

Did he know, or didn’t he? That’s the question surrounding President Barack Obama since it was revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) had spied on the private communications of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.


Obama has been put in the embarrassing position of either admitting that he authorized the NSA to tap into the cell phone and email communications of the leaders of Germany and other allied countries, or that during his presidency spy agencies have been allowed to do as they wish without his knowledge even though many of their programs were already in place before Obama entered the White House.


Media reports out of Germany over the weekend indicated that Obama did know what the NSA was doing, going back several years in fact.


The German tabloid Bild alleged that Obama was personally briefed in 2010 about the operation to target Merkel’s phone by the NSA’s director, Keith Alexander, and that he authorized it to continue.


Another story, published in Der Spiegel, said the U.S. had been spying on Germans from the U.S. embassy in Berlin since 2008, and that surveillance of Merkel may have begun as early as 2002.


In response to the stories, the NSA denied that Alexander met with Obama to discuss the controversial program.


The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) cited numerous unnamed sources who said the White House didn’t learn of the NSA spying until this past summer, when the operation against Merkel was shut down. It quoted a senior NSA official as saying, “These decisions are made at NSA. The president doesn't sign off on this stuff.”


But that could mean Obama was in the dark for years about NSA activities.


“Officials said the NSA has so many eavesdropping operations under way that it wouldn't have been practical to brief him on all of them,” the WSJ’s Siobhan Gorman and Adam Entous reported.


If that’s the best spin the administration can put on the scandal, it still leaves Obama open to criticism that he’s allowed a multi-billion-dollar spy agency to run amok and pry into the communications of whomever it wishes.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

If Obama Didn't Know About Merkel Spying, Who Was It For? (by Jon Queally, Common Dreams)

Obama Unaware as U.S. Spied on World Leaders: Officials (by Siobhan Gorman and Adam Entous, Wall Street Journal)

Barack Obama 'Approved Tapping Angela Merkel's Phone 3 Years Ago' (by Philip Sherwell and Louise Barnett, The Telegraph)

Plausible Deniability (Wikipedia)


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