LA Times: White House, State Dept approved spying on allied leaders

posted at 9:21 am on October 29, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

One lesson from the failed spin on Benghazi hasn’t quite sunk in at the White House. When one tosses the intelligence community under the bus, they have the ability to do some tossing themselves.  The Los Angeles Times reported last night that angry officials at the NSA and other intel agencies have confirmed that the Obama White House and State Department approved espionage on allies, and the President’s National Security Council is regularly updated on those efforts:

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.

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.

In fact, the intel communities make sure that the White House in particular is kept abreast of those activities:

Precisely how the surveillance is conducted is unclear. But if a foreign leader is targeted for eavesdropping, the relevant U.S. ambassador and the National Security Council staffer at the White House who deals with the country are given regular reports, said two former senior intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in discussing classified information.

Obama may not have been specifically briefed on NSA operations targeting a foreign leader’s cellphone or email communications, one of the officials said. “But certainly the National Security Council and senior people across the intelligence community knew exactly what was going on, and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous.” …

Any decision to spy on friendly foreign leaders is made with input from the State Department, which considers the political risk, the official said. Any useful intelligence is then given to the president’s counter-terrorism advisor, Lisa Monaco, among other White House officials.

Is it possible that the President didn’t know? Only if he’s not paying any attention to briefings, according to the LAT’s sources:

If U.S. spying on key foreign leaders was news to the White House, current and former officials said, then White House officials have not been reading their briefing books.

That has actually been a concern about Obama, who used to skip formal briefings until the attack in Benghazi embarrassed the White House. Now those briefings are on his schedule every day. Whether he pays any attention is another matter entirely.


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He is busy on his blackberry….don’t interrupt him with a bothersome briefing.

Geez.

herm2416 on October 29, 2013 at 9:24 AM

Oh, wow, first!

Where is everybody?!

herm2416 on October 29, 2013 at 9:24 AM

That has actually been a concern about Obama, who used to skip formal briefings until the attack in Benghazi embarrassed the White House. Now those briefings are on his schedule every day. Whether he pays any attention is another matter entirely.

Fore!

visions on October 29, 2013 at 9:26 AM

So basically, the intelligence community is confirming Valerie Jarrett knew the NSA was spying on allied leaders….

jon1979 on October 29, 2013 at 9:28 AM

What did he not know, and when did he not know it?

ted c on October 29, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Is it possible that the President didn’t know? Only if he’s not paying any attention to briefings

He was paying attention.

Right now watch this drive. :Swings golf club:

Gatsu on October 29, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Of course he knew. He lied about not knowing. Is there a day that has went by that Obama has not lied? I suspect not….

Conservative4Ever on October 29, 2013 at 9:31 AM

He’s not paying attention. It’s been like this for his entire affirmative action life. He’s never had to pay attention because everyone will simply let him slide. He has the mental maturity of a 13 year old. And a 13 year old can’t be expected to pay attention in today’s world.

Flange on October 29, 2013 at 9:31 AM

The White House put it all on General Alexander.

The IC will only take so much of this scapegoating. And you do not want to get on their wrong side.

Happy Nomad on October 29, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Relentless lying, incompetence, blatant extra-constitutional abuse of power and ignorance are all okay ’cause he’s a ‘cool’ guy with a clipped baritone voice ( which means he’s ‘intelligent’).
You voted for this America.
Eat it.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on October 29, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Any decision to spy on friendly foreign leaders is made with input from the State Department, which considers the political risk, the official said. …

But if a foreign leader is targeted for eavesdropping, the relevant U.S. ambassador and the National Security Council staffer at the White House who deals with the country are given regular reports,

Except for the Benghazi thing, Hillary was an awesome SecState!

Dusty on October 29, 2013 at 9:32 AM

D’OH!

workingclass artist on October 29, 2013 at 9:33 AM

f U.S. spying on key foreign leaders was news to the White House, current and former officials said, then White House officials have not been reading their briefing books.

That’s a safe bet.

mankai on October 29, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Smartest Coolest Preezy evah is having a tough week at home and abroad…and it’s just Tuesday.

workingclass artist on October 29, 2013 at 9:35 AM

O may not have known, but certainly President Jarrett was aware.

mankai on October 29, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Wait til the newspapers tell him how ugly Moochelle is.

hillsoftx on October 29, 2013 at 9:35 AM

He’s not paying attention. It’s been like this for his entire affirmative action life. He’s never had to pay attention because everyone will simply let him slide. He has the mental maturity of a 13 year old. And a 13 year old can’t be expected to pay attention in today’s world.

Flange on October 29, 2013 at 9:31 AM

Face it. Obama is a lazy stupid coward. He probably doesn’t even understand half the stuff that they put in his briefing book. It’s not how he makes decisions anyway. Everything is viewed through the political lens. That’s why the Middle East is on fire.

Happy Nomad on October 29, 2013 at 9:36 AM

Even the liberal Libs don’t trust Obummer any more.

Herb on October 29, 2013 at 9:37 AM

The White House put it all on General Alexander.

The IC will only take so much of this scapegoating. And you do not want to get on their wrong side.

Happy Nomad on October 29, 2013 at 9:32 AM

I’d be more impressed if the intelligence community leaked his records.

workingclass artist on October 29, 2013 at 9:37 AM

Obama’s confidence in his media protected bulletproof bubble, is astounding. He doesn’t have to learn “lessons”. Learning lessons is racist.

BettyRuth on October 29, 2013 at 9:40 AM

I’d be more impressed if the intelligence community leaked his records.

workingclass artist on October 29, 2013 at 9:37 AM

That’s what I was getting at. At some point the IC isn’t going to be putting up with the blame-shifting anymore. They have ways of getting back at a politician if they want to.

Happy Nomad on October 29, 2013 at 9:41 AM

I feel like I’ve been asking this for years already, but… is it pitchfork time *yet*?

Midas on October 29, 2013 at 9:41 AM

Aren’t the intelligence agencies supposed to offer administrations some plausible deniability though? I mean, of course the president knew this, and everyone knew he knew. But I don’t like the way the intelligence agencies see fit to undermine presidents as they see fit. This was especially egregious under GWB.

m2 on October 29, 2013 at 9:41 AM

That has actually been a concern about Obama, who used to skip formal briefings until the attack in Benghazi embarrassed the White House. Now those briefings are on his schedule every day. Whether he pays any attention is another matter entirely.

What, pay attention to intelligence briefings or pay attention to Candy Crush and Angry Birds? Is there any doubt which one Dear Liar pays attention to?

rbj on October 29, 2013 at 9:42 AM

Even the liberal Libs don’t trust Obummer any more.

Herb on October 29, 2013 at 9:37 AM

Gotta disagree with that. Remember, the Progressive ideology is actually a religion complete with “true believers.” Obama is still their Messiah that will make the oceans recede, etc.

Bring up any Obama scandal and they will -immediately- start talking about the Tea Party, the GOP, Bush, etc. They really do have a religious-type of faith in their ideology.

visions on October 29, 2013 at 9:42 AM

The gift comment that keeps on giving:

we’re more comfortable with Obama wielding this sort of power because he seems a hell of a lot more effective and responsible with it.

urban elitist on February 8, 2012

Seriously, the leader of our nation is detached, completely, from the nation he oversees or he’s stone cold lying about what he knows, or both. The world’s thugs are licking their chops and sizing us up because of Dog Eater, and they’re seeing a ripe target.

Bishop on October 29, 2013 at 9:43 AM

and let’s not give too much credit to CBS/60 Mins for exposing Benghazi Sun nite nor NBC for his lies over “keeping plans” and now the LA Times for reporting this—IF THEY WERE WORTHY OF ANY JOURNALISTIC CREDIBILITY, ALL OF THESE STORIES COULD HAVE BEEN REPORTED PRIOR TO NOV ELECTIONS OF 2012!

hillsoftx on October 29, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Bush lied about chemical weapons in Iraq & received overwhelming congressional approval to go to war. Obama killed Osama, Obama knew every familial characteristic about Trayvon, Obama knew Henry Gates was arrested by a white cop, Obama knew Sandra Fluke was a slut, Obama knew Jason Collins was gay, & Obama knew raising the debt ceiling was unpatriotic. BUT…, Obama knew nothing about Benghazi, the IRS targeting his enemies, ATF gun walking, what a red line is, DOJ investigating reporters, or the NSA spying on allies. And all the media knows is that Republicans caused the shutdown for wanting to delay Obamacare implementation. Less than 3 weeks later, a supermajority in the House & Senate would vote for a delay

drivingtheview on October 29, 2013 at 9:45 AM

If U.S. spying on key foreign leaders was news to the White House, current and former officials said, then White House officials have not been reading their briefing books.

I wonder what foreign leaders would find if they tapped into the lazy stupid one’s Blackberry. Texts boasting about his high score on Angry Birds? Tee time confirmations? Because I seriously doubt that he’s actually doing anything Presidential.

Happy Nomad on October 29, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Face it. Obama is a lazy stupid coward. He probably doesn’t even understand half the stuff that they put in his briefing book. It’s not how he makes decisions anyway. Everything is viewed through the political lens. That’s why the Middle East is on fire.

Happy Nomad on October 29, 2013 at 9:36 AM

I’ve always felt that way, but now I’m beginning to wonder if even that is giving him too much credit. There is no way he has an IQ over 90.

Flange on October 29, 2013 at 9:48 AM

What an idiot

cmsinaz on October 29, 2013 at 9:48 AM

Bush lied about chemical weapons in Iraq & received overwhelming congressional approval to go to war.

drivingtheview on October 29, 2013 at 9:45 AM

WTF?

Happy Nomad on October 29, 2013 at 9:48 AM

Happy Nomad on October 29, 2013 at 9:46 AM

An entire folder filled with muslim prayers, and the schedule for lap time with his pseudo mommy Val.

Bishop on October 29, 2013 at 9:49 AM

Whoopsie. Have fun lying your way out of this one.

MJBrutus on October 29, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Now those briefings are on his schedule every day.

Whether he attends them or not.

Having worked for a ‘super-secret’ agency back in the late 60′s and early 70′s, any intelligence ‘straight from the horses own mouth’ goes right to the top.

Obama has lied so often (and backed by the MSM) has gotten away with it.

Could it be that his whores are finally getting tired of it, or is it than when the lies are so obvious, they feel compelled to respond?

GarandFan on October 29, 2013 at 9:52 AM

The LA Times is tight with the NSA? I suppose NYT or WP would have been too much exposure of a friendship.

Buddahpundit on October 29, 2013 at 9:52 AM

He’s not paying attention. It’s been like this for his entire affirmative action life. He’s never had to pay attention because everyone will simply let him slide. He has the mental maturity of a 13 year old. And a 13 year old can’t be expected to pay attention in today’s world.

Flange on October 29, 2013 at 9:31 AM

I’ve been saying for the last few days that if all of these stories about him not knowing about all of this stuff and if the NYT story about him going through his BB during briefings is true, then all of his handlers must be treating him like a child. If they don’t, all of these stories are certainly painting him as a child and Obama doesn’t seem to have any issues with it.

MobileVideoEngineer on October 29, 2013 at 9:52 AM

This is just like when the CIA turned on Bush in his second term.

Johnnyreb on October 29, 2013 at 9:54 AM

So…
1. Obama is a liar.
or
2. Obama is out of the loop; has not idea what is going on in his government
or
3. All of the above.

albill on October 29, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Gotta disagree with that. Remember, the Progressive ideology is actually a religion complete with “true believers.” Obama is still their Messiah that will make the oceans recede, etc.

Bring up any Obama scandal and they will -immediately- start talking about the Tea Party, the GOP, Bush, etc. They really do have a religious-type of faith in their ideology.

visions on October 29, 2013 at 9:42 AM

I really don’t understnad thi Obama is a Messiah belief.
How can Obama be so much to so many, when the most frequent defense of him is that he isn’t doing anything.

How can Obama be so great while simultaneously not knowing anything going on in his administration?

I think these people fancy themselves as elite intellectuals. They cannot admit that Obama is incompetent because their self-worth is wrapped up in support of him. If Obama is incompetent, then they are incompetent for not seeing through it. That is why anything bad that happens to Obama HAS to be someone else’s fault. Otherwise, their worldview is shattered. Denial on steroids.

We are starting to see cracks after 5 years of Obama. Small criticisms from the left are creating fissures in the leftist Obama-pride. Hoping those fissures turn into large fractures. At that point, the meltdown from the leftists would be epic.

They need another leftist to pin their ideals on to before they can release their belief in Obama. It must be someone that they will be able to latch themselves on to. It must be someone who lacks political baggage, or at the very least covers up their baggage.

This is why I don’t think Hillary has a shot in 16. Booker is the frontrunner on the left in my mind.

weaselyone on October 29, 2013 at 9:55 AM

After Lie-A-Thon week, I just hope there is no national crisis to create a distraction—see Hurricane Sandy one year ago this week.

hillsoftx on October 29, 2013 at 9:56 AM

Dog Eater only showed up for the private jet and the WH parties, the rest is supposed to be taken care of by someone else.

You just know when one of the few semi intelligent members of his administration brings a problem to his attention, Bark gets glassy-eyed and starts pushing a pencil around the desktop while making engine sounds.

Bishop on October 29, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Between Minecraft and Angry Birds, do you think he has time to pay attention to the briefings?

Give the man a break already.

Chris of Rights on October 29, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Obama may truly be the Messiah.
He can simultaneously be everything and nothing.

weaselyone on October 29, 2013 at 9:57 AM

An entire folder filled with muslim prayers, and the schedule for lap time with his pseudo mommy Val.

Bishop on October 29, 2013 at 9:49 AM

Prayers have a lot of words. Are we sure its not just “The Pokey Little Puppy” and the DVD box cover art for Homeland?

Gatsu on October 29, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Bark gets glassy-eyed and starts pushing a pencil around the desktop while making engine sounds.

Bishop on October 29, 2013 at 9:57 AM

+1 imagery.

hillsoftx on October 29, 2013 at 10:00 AM

CMS testifying in the Ways & Means Committee on the Ocare Website problems on Cspan 3.

CoffeeLover on October 29, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Yet Preezy Low Information knew who Trayvon was, knew the cops acted stupidly, knew Kanye was a jacka**, knew that the Redskins should change their name, clairvoyantly knew when a woman was about to faint behind him, and probably can recite every episode of his favorite program Homeland.

Brat on October 29, 2013 at 10:07 AM

First off he was not in the meetings because he is politically correct window dressing. President Jarrett was in the meetings.

Second of all have we hit enough of a tidal surge of malfeasance, dereliction of duty and criminal mismanagement to impeach …

Tilly on October 29, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Any decision to spy on friendly foreign leaders is made with input from the State Department

So, when do we ask Hillary if she told Obama what she was doing when she ran the state dept?

Irritable Pundit on October 29, 2013 at 10:18 AM

After all this “You Lie” stuff it seems he cannot handle the truth. Literally, it’s too much information. Gets in the way of his agenda to transform America.

jake49 on October 29, 2013 at 10:22 AM

I’ve been thinking. When Obama was compaigning before the 2008 election he said he was a “blank screen” or some such thing. That might be the only time he has told the truth.

DaveDief on October 29, 2013 at 10:24 AM

The briefings on his schedule are sort of like when you see an Army platoon put “mounted/dismounted land navigation, 8 hours” on their training calendar.

Sure, they might be doing land nav, but there’s an equally good chance they’re playing golf, which also involves a map and some wandering around in the woods.

Sgt Steve on October 29, 2013 at 10:32 AM

He looks at pictures of Barack Obama on his Blackberry

faraway on October 29, 2013 at 10:36 AM

Welcome to the modern day Louis XVI and Michelle Antoinette – except rather than being royalists, we have a court of jacobins seeking to invoke a ‘fundamental change’ that is dysfunctional, naive, and runs counter to core American values.

It’s a court that utterly abuses the concept of ‘plausible deniability’ when it comes to the accountability and responsibility of the nation’s chief executive for the decisions made. It is reflective of the arrogance, hubris, and contempt of this Administration towards pretty much anyone not in the Administration.

If something goes wrong, it is always the fault of someone else. No one ever is accountable or responsible. It is either the victims own fault, or the actions of some ‘enemy’. But on those rare occasions when something good happens, like the raid that killed Usama Bin Laden, the narcissist-in-chief comes out with an ‘I got Bin Laden’.

This approach has fundamentally damaged the international reputation of the US. It has emboldened our enemies and pissed off our friends. Domestically it is an even greater series of failures ranging from a stagnant economy to a takeover of 1/6th of the national economy by the government that appears it will devastate our healthcare system.

There is one other effect of this approach – it resonates throughout the Administration. Throughout our federal bureaucracy, mendacious, arrogant, and incompetent political appointees mirror the actions of the President – demonstrating a belief that rather than government serving the people, the people exist to serve the government.

Athos on October 29, 2013 at 10:41 AM

VDH – Is Obama Still President?

Barack Obama has become a mere figurehead, who gives speeches few listen to any more, issues threats that scare fewer, and makes promises that almost no one believes he will keep. Yet America continues on, despite the fact that the foreign and domestic policies of Barack Obama are unraveling, in a manner unusual even for star-crossed presidential second terms.

Athos on October 29, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Athos on October 29, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Excellent as usual from VDH. Thanks Athos for linking.

In a nutshell, it’s the Limbaugh Theorem. Rush is right 99.99% of the time. But 100% correct about Obama.

Brat on October 29, 2013 at 11:07 AM

Whether he pays any attention is another matter entirely.

I suspect he’s playing golf on his iphone during the meetings.

sadatoni on October 29, 2013 at 1:08 PM

Whether he pays any attention is another matter entirely.

Nah, he’s probably too busy slouching in his chair and chewing gum. It’s all so, like, b-o-r-i-n-g, man. There’s nothing about HIM in it, so what’s the big deal, anyway?

I remain convinced that Barry-O’s real mentor isn’t Bill Ayers or Jeremiah Wright, but the character “Williams” in the movie, Enter the Dragon. Check of proof: recall Williams’ last conversation with the evil Han:

Han: We are all ready to win, just as we are born knowing only life. It is defeat that you must learn to prepare for.

Williams: I don’t waste my time with it. When it comes, I won’t even notice.

Han: Oh? How so?

Williams: I’ll be too busy looking gooood!

This is Barry-O’s problem, in a nutshell: He was “Too cool for school,” which was why he preferred to skip class and hang out with his homies in the “Choom Gang” perfecting his “total absorption” technique; he was too busy snorting cocaine and hanging out with his marxist professors in college; he was too busy not writing any scholarly articles while president of the Review at Harvard Law.

And he’s waaay too cool for some dull briefing about this or that foreign person or government, when he already knows that it’s the Domestic Enemy — the Republicans — that require what little attention he can muster.

He’s just too darn busy looking goooood to sweat the small stuff. Let Valerie handle it, or Katherine. Let Jay play semantic word-games with the press. Whatever, duuuude.

Spurius Ligustinus on October 29, 2013 at 1:48 PM

Go back to Obama’s performance in the first Romney debate.

That was the REAL Obama. The LAZY Obama.

He then was awoken for two debates.

Since then, he’s back to his preferred self. The LAZY Obama.

I thank God for that.

We should pitch in and get him some new golf clubs for Christmas.

Carnac on October 29, 2013 at 2:06 PM

At some point the IC isn’t going to be putting up with the blame-shifting anymore. They have ways of getting back at a politician if they want to.

Happy Nomad on October 29, 2013 at 9:41 AM

All bureaucrats can take down their “superiors” if they want to.

Yet Preezy Low Information knew who Trayvon was, knew the cops acted stupidly, knew Kanye was a jacka**, knew that the Redskins should change their name, clairvoyantly knew when a woman was about to faint behind him, and probably can recite every episode of his favorite program Homeland.

Brat on October 29, 2013 at 10:07 AM

He also clairvoyantly knew that Candy Crowley had the transcript with the “act of terror” quote in her hand — watch the debate; it’s blindingly obvious.

AesopFan on October 29, 2013 at 11:08 PM