NSA staff angry with Obama blame game over spying scandals

NSA staff angry with Obama blame game over spying scandals
Wed Oct 30, 2013 07:44:11

An effort by the Obama administration to distance itself from the latest NSA scandals has fueled anger among NSA officials who see the US president as trying to stick them with the blame.

Over the past several days the White House has tried to ditch responsibility for the scandals, particularly the tapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone for over a decade, claiming the NSA did it on their own and the president only just found out about the scheme.

NSA officials say that to the contrary, both the White House and the State Department had been repeatedly briefed on the surveillance, and both had signed off on the practice.

The officials say that whenever the NSA targeted a foreign leader, the US ambassador to that nation would be given regular reports on the information discovered, and the reports would likewise be sent to the White House.

“People are furious,” noted one of the officials, “this is officially the White House cutting off the intelligence community.” Having given the surveillance state enormous and largely unchecked power, the administration may now be creating a powerful enemy.

Any decision to spy on friendly foreign leaders is made with input from the State Department, which considers the political risk, the official said. Any useful intelligence is then given to the president's counter-terrorism advisor, Lisa Monaco, among other White House officials.


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