A half-hearted effort by the Obama Administration to distance itself from the latest NSA scandals, surrounding the surveillance of key allies, appears to be fueling anger among NSA officials who see the 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.