Author Topic: Clapper contradicts White House, says Obama was aware of spying on allies  (Read 804 times)

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Offline mystery-ak

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http://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/29/clapper-contradicts-white-house-says-obama-was-awa/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS



By Guy Taylor

-

The Washington Times

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

America’s top intelligence official acknowledged Tuesday that President Obama and other senior White House officials were well aware of U.S. surveillance activities targeting leaders of friendly foreign nations — a stark contradiction of the administration’s insinuation in recent days that the president was unaware of such spying.

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper described the targeting of foreign leaders, including American allies, as a “fundamental” aspect of intelligence gathering, and said neither the CIA nor the National Security Agency can tap into a given leader’s private communications without White House oversight.


His testimony, made during a series of tacit exchanges Tuesday with members of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, came as all sides in Congress have begun seriously examining legislative proposals that would rein in the legal framework surrounding the NSA’s snooping programs.

Two lawmakers introduced a bill Tuesday that would end the agency’s legal ability to collect and store massive amounts of private, albeit basic, telephone metadata, while a separate Senate proposal would allow the data gathering to continue under new oversight requirements.

Despite his broad characterizations about the program and the White House’s knowledge of it, Mr. Clapper sought also to defend Mr. Obama during the intelligence hearing, saying that while the president is briefed “quite frequently” on the scope of surveillance operations, it would be “unrealistic” to think his staff regularly goes over specific details, such as explicitly how or when the intelligence is being gleaned.

Testifying alongside Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, director of the NSA, Mr. Clapper painted a picture in which recent revelations about American spying are obvious.

Both men said foreign leaders are disingenuous when expressing outrage over the snooping because America’s own allies have conducted similar spying operations against the U.S.

“Some of this reminds me a lot of the classic movie ‘Casablanca’: ‘My God, there’s gambling going on here?’” Mr. Clapper quipped at one point.



The remarks also added fresh context to the questions surging with Watergate-era flair through Washington in recent days, over exactly what the president knew about NSA efforts to tap into the private communications of some of America’s closest allies, including the cellphones of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mrs. Merkel, along with leaders from Mexico, France, Sweden, Spain and Italy have seethed publicly at international news reports drawn from documents leaked by Edward Snowden — the former NSA contractor now hiding in Russia — that reveal aspects of the American snooping program, including one mission that involved hacking into Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s emails in 2010.

The White House this week has dodged questions about one specific report that claimed Mr. Obama learned of the NSA program’s scope only a few months ago.

The story, published Monday by The Wall Street Journal, cited unidentified officials as saying Mr. Obama had moved to swiftly end the program upon learning that the U.S. was tapping Mrs. Merkel’s phones.

Speaking only the condition of anonymity with reporters, U.S. officials have said that during a personal telephone call with Mrs. Merkel last week, Mr. Obama, who sought to allay the German leader’s frustration about the NSA program, denied having known about it.

Hitting a nerve

While Mr. Clapper and Gen. Alexander asserted Tuesday that the surge of international news reports about the NSA program have been inaccurate, neither was willing to disclose much about what the highly classified program entails.

With the committee hearing open to the public, lawmakers were also reluctant to use anything other than vague language about NSA operations.

During the nearly four-hour session, not one Republican or Democrat asked the specific question of whether Mr. Clapper or Gen. Alexander believes that Mr. Obama knew all along that Mrs. Merkel’s cellphones were being tapped.

During one exchange, Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and committee chairman, asked whether it “would be fair to say that the White House should know what those collection priorities are,” Mr. Clapper responded: “They can and do.”

“But I have to say that that does not necessarily extend down to the level of detail,” Mr. Clapper added quickly. “We don’t necessarily review with the White House what the forthcoming collection deck is. That is done at levels below the White House or the national security staff.”

A day earlier, Senate intelligence committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, in calling for a “total review of all intelligence programs,” said neither she nor the president knew about eavesdropping on the German chancellor.

Friendly spying

American intelligence officials have been monitoring world leaders’ conversations and activities for decades, ranging from open-source data and human intelligence from attendees at events to the monitoring of phone calls, according to U.S. officials who have spoken on background with The Washington Times.

Every president in modern history has been aware of the activities and been the beneficiary of information placed into the president’s daily briefings or special topic briefings, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Although those briefings don’t always specify the exact nature of how information was obtained, presidents have known about NSA eavesdropping on allies for many years.

Mr. Obama, for instance, specifically received briefings since being in office about information learned by U.S. intelligence about Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Pakistan’s prime minister, Russian President Vladimir Putin and United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, the officials said.

Officials said intelligence agencies have been bracing for more Snowden-related revelations about espionage involving foreign friendlies.

But during one of the more enlightening exchanges of Tuesday’s hearing, Gen. Alexander told lawmakers he had no doubt that U.S. allies are also spying on Washington.

The testimony came after Rep. Rogers asked, “In your experience as director of the National Security Agency, have the allies of the United States ever, during the course of that time, engaged in anything that you would qualify as an espionage act targeted at the United States of America?”

“Yes, they have,” Gen. Alexander responded, to which Mr. Rogers asked, “And that would be consistent with most of our allies? Well, let’s just pick a place — the European Union?”

“Yes, it would,” Gen. Alexander said.

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Offline Chieftain

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Is there anything that this Regime has NOT lied about over the past five years???!!

Online EC

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Is there anything that this Regime has NOT lied about over the past five years???!!

Well - they didn't lie about being the most transparent administration in history. They merely forgot to mention where the transparency would be. Must have been a simple oversight, words taken out of context. Bush's fault, of course.
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Offline Rapunzel

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Is there anything that this Regime has NOT lied about over the past five years???!!

Nope - and just last week your favorite guy in the admin - Donillon's name popped up which prompted me to ask where is Chief when we need him... really glad you're back you were missed.
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

Offline Chieftain

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What's really worrisome about all of this is what this kind of thing says about the viability of this Administration.  It is coming apart at the seams, and they cannot come up with enough credible spin to give even their most stalwart allies and apologists in the media a straw to grasp for them.  All of the lies to cover the outright incompetence of Obama are finally coming to light. 

We are watching the most significant signature piece of Democratic legislation written in the last 100 years coming apart at the seams, and the White House is trying to demonize health insurance companies as a diversion.  They are outright lying about so many things that spying on our allies falls to a lower place in line in an ever-lengthening list of outrages, but the fact is this continues to do tremendous damage to the United States.  Obama is impotent to do anything about the continued Snowden leaks, and even his own intelligence people are beginning to contradict him on what he did and did not know.

Harry Truman famously had "The buck stops here" paperweight on his desk, and like him or not, Harry took the Presidency very seriously.  He never claimed "I did not know" and no President in my living memory has ever been allowed to claim "I didn't know" as many times as Obama has.  He did not know about Solyndra, Fast and Furious, nothing about this healthcare debacle because he let Nancy Pelosi write the damned thing, and he was completely absent during and after Benghazi.  Obama was so detached from the Presidency that Leon Panetta had to go behind his back to get the operation to kill bin Laden started, because Obama kept stalling.

This is another hole in the dike and the drips are getting bigger.  CIA and the National Intelligence people are not going to take being lied about lightly.  There were a lot of targeted leaks when Pelousi opened her pie hole about enhanced interrogation techniques, and Obama would not be the first President taken to task by his own intelligence network. 

One can only hope.


Offline Lando Lincoln

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Welcome back Chief.  Good comments.
For the progressive, there is very little to love about the United States. Washington, Jefferson, Madison? A bunch of rotten slaveholders, hypocrites, and cowards even when their hearts were in the right places. The Declaration of Independence? A manifesto for the propertied classes. The Constitution? An artifact of sexism and white supremacy. The sacrifices in the great wars of the 20th century? Feeding the poor and the disenfranchised into the meat-grinder of imperialism. The gifts of Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Morgan, Astor? Blood money from self-aggrandizing robber barons. Nat Rev

Offline Rapunzel

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I heard someone say this morning they should obtain a copy of the Truman Buck Stops here sign and send it to Obama
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

Offline Cincinnatus

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I heard someone say this morning they should obtain a copy of the Truman Buck Stops here sign and send it to Obama

So he can give it as a gift to someone who actually shows he has some cojones, like maybe Ted Cruz?
We shall never be abandoned by Heaven while we act worthy of its aid ~~ Samuel Adams

Offline Lando Lincoln

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This Presidency is unraveling... but you'd hardly notice it with most of the media.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2013, 08:38:44 PM by Lando Lincoln »
For the progressive, there is very little to love about the United States. Washington, Jefferson, Madison? A bunch of rotten slaveholders, hypocrites, and cowards even when their hearts were in the right places. The Declaration of Independence? A manifesto for the propertied classes. The Constitution? An artifact of sexism and white supremacy. The sacrifices in the great wars of the 20th century? Feeding the poor and the disenfranchised into the meat-grinder of imperialism. The gifts of Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Morgan, Astor? Blood money from self-aggrandizing robber barons. Nat Rev


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