WASHINGTON -- The White House and State Department signed off on surveillance targeting phone conversations of friendly foreign leaders, current and former U.S. intelligence officials said Monday, pushing back against assertions that President Obama and his aides were unaware of the high-level eavesdropping.One of the two senators can actually do more than call for an investigation. She can have one, since she's Dianne Feinsten (D-CA) and the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. She's shocked, shocked that spying on allies would happen in the U.S., and says that she was never informed of that activity. She says she's going to start a "comprehensive review" of all intelligence programs. But first she's decided to go through with moving her watered-down version of intelligence reform forward. Wouldn't be a good thing to have the results of that "comprehensive review" before crafting the legislation to curb abuses, so that you'd know what all those abuses were? One would think so, but one isn't Dianne Feinstein.
Professional staff members at the National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence agencies are angry, these officials say, believing the president has cast them adrift as he tries to distance himself from the disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that have strained ties with close allies.
The resistance emerged as the White House said it would curtail foreign intelligence collection in some cases and two senior U.S. senators called for investigations of the practice.
Meanwhile, President Obama has ordered the NSA to curtail its spying on the United Nations. That's an important move to make public now to try to ameliorate some of the international furor over the latest revelations. But just as important is getting this immediate situation in hand, and getting the NSA in hand. Having the White House and the NSA in a public pissing match is not helpful to anyone.