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President Barack Obama talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany as they walk to Aspen Cabin during the G8 Summit at Camp David, Md., May 19, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
What's a little wiretapping among friends?
If nothing else proves that the vast surveillance regime created by the National Security Agency needs to be reined in, reformed, and placed under extreme scrutiny, it's this: According to U.S. officials, President Obama did not know for nearly five years that the NSA was spying on world leaders.
WASHINGTON—The National Security Agency ended a program used to spy on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a number of other world leaders after an internal Obama administration review started this summer revealed to the White House the existence of the operation, U.S. officials said.

Officials said the internal review turned up NSA monitoring of some 35 world leaders, in the U.S. government's first public acknowledgment that it tapped the phones of world leaders. European leaders havejoined international outrage over revelations of U.S. surveillance of Ms. Merkel's phone and of NSA's monitoring of telephone call data in France. [...]

The account suggests President Barack Obama went nearly five years without knowing his own spies were bugging the phones of world leaders. 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.

Right. Not practical to tell the president that his fellow world leaders' private cell phones were being tapped. It's not a terrible surprise that the NSA is spying on world leaders, but it's not particularly helpful to admit that the NSA is doing this all on its own, without informing the president or, presumbably, the congressional leaders that are supposed to be overseeing its operations.

It might be helpful, in fact, for some of those congressional leaders to start having real, public hearings in which they could just possibly pre-empt further internationally embarrassing disclosures like this one. Not that there's not plenty for the U.S. to be embarrassed about internationally, but it would be nice if that negative focus could all be on Republicans.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 11:02 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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