The New York Times
editorial board ripped the Obama administrationas “pathetic” in its defenses and assurances on revelations about National Security Agency
spying on foreign leaders and citizens of close world allies.
President Barack Obama wouldn’t discuss on Monday his knowledge of the classified programs, but the White House and Democratic senators pledged that a review of all intelligence programs was ongoing.
“What we’ve seen over the last several years is their capacities continue to develop and expand, and that’s why I’m initiating now a review to make sure that what they’re able to do doesn’t necessarily mean what they should be doing,” Obama told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos.
The Times blasted that response in its editorial:
The White House response on Monday to the expanding disclosures of American spying on foreign leaders, their governments and millions of their citizens was a pathetic mix of unsatisfying assurances about reviews under way, platitudes about the need for security in an insecure age, and the odd defence that the president didn’t know that American spies had tapped the German chancellor’s mobile phone for 10 years.
Some anonymous U.S. officials said in various reports that Obama only recently found out about the NSA operation that tapped into German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone for more than a decade — something that was blasted by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chair of the Senate intelligence committee.
“It is my understanding that President Obama was not aware Chancellor Merkel’s communications were being collected since 2002. That is a big problem,” Feinstein said. The White House is also dealing with the fallout that the NSA monitored calls of citizens in France, Spain, and other U.S. allies.
The New York Times didn’t buy the common defence that “everyone is spying on everyone,” saying it should be done only with national security interests in mind:
We are not reassured by the often-heard explanation that everyone spies on everyone else all the time. We are not advocating a return to 1929 when Secretary of State Henry Stimson banned the decryption of diplomatic cables because “gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.” But there has long been an understanding that international spying was done in pursuit of a concrete threat to national security.
The White House has earned broad condemnation of the latest revelations. On Monday night, “The Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart blasted Obama over the new disclosures and was sceptical that he didn’t know anything about the programs.
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