What did the president know and when did he know it?

But in this case, the Republicans understated the number of issues on which the president has claimed to be in the dark. A compilation by the Republican National Committee titled “The Bystander President” cited the NSA spying on Merkel, the Obamacare rollout and an investigation of the IRS’s targeting of political groups (the White House counsel knew of the inquiry but said she didn’t inform Obama). The RNC also mentioned the failure of clean-energy company Solyndra, which had received government funding (Carney had said Obama read about it in “news accounts”), and the attempts to go after reporters’ phone and e-mail records (which the president also found out about from reading the news, Carney said).

The RNC didn’t mention that Obama had allegedly known nothing about an FBI investigation of an affair involving David Petraeus that led him to resign as CIA director. Neither did it mention two other claims that conservatives often question: Obama’s ignorance of a guns-on-the-border sting operation called “Fast and Furious” that went awry, and his unawareness of requests for additional diplomatic security in Libya before a U.S. outpost in Benghazi was attacked.

There’s no reason Obama should have known about Fast and Furious or diplomatic security requests. But how could he not know his spies were bugging the German chancellor?