Early today, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – CA), the head of the Intelligence Committee, reported that the White House had promised a blanket end to surveillance of America’s allies. The White House is now disputing that.
“The statement that collection on our allies will not continue is not accurate,” noted a top official quoted by Buzzfeed, adding that there had been some “individual changes,” likely referencing them getting caught spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but no across the board changes happened.
Efforts to defend the surveillance efforts against their closest allies have proven muddled, with German media quoting unnamed NSA officials confirming that President Obama knew about the schemes, and the White House insisting Obama was entirely in the dark about the surveillance. Apparently seeking to avoid further confusion, President Obama refused to comment at all on whether or not he knew about NSA surveillance, insisting the truth of the matter was “classified.”
Which is worse, that Obama knew and allowed the spying to continue to was completely in the dark about programs he was supposed to oversee, remains a matter of no small debate.
Whichever is the case, Obama seems determined to defend it, saying that any surveillance operations he did or didn’t approve, whether he knew about them or not, makes the American people safer.