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What Did President Obama Know About NSA Spying?

Story By: Larry Stine



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  Original Published: 10/30/2013 What did President Barack Obama know about National Security Surveillance and when did he know it? Jim Sciutto takes a closer look. President Obama wouldn't confirm the NSA was spying on the phone calls of U.S. allies like Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, but in an interview with the new cable network Fusion, he both defended U.S. intelligence activities. "The National Security operations generally have one purpose, and that is to make sure the American people are safe," says President Obama. Andm conceded, that maybe, they've gone too far. "I'm initiating now a review to make sure what they're able to do doesn't necessary mean what they should be doing," said President Obama. Senior administration officials tell CNN President Obama wasn't aware about NSA surveillance of Merkel and other close allies until earlier this year, and when he found out, he ordered a stop to some of the programs. The Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Diane Feinstein, usually an ally of the White House, says that's not good enough and wants a total review of all U.S. intelligence programs. European lawmakers are in Washington this week pressing the case for limits. The head of the E.U. delegation told me E.U. citizens find U.S. spying disturbing. "They feel very uneasy," says Claude Moraes, European Parliament Civil Liberties Delegaton. "They don't know why it's happening. They don't know why our strongest ally is doing it." Amid repors the U.S. surveillance of leaders of allies began back in 2002, well before the Obama administration, here's one explanation former Vice President Dick Cheney gave CNN's Jake Tapper. "We are vulnerable, as was shown on 9/11, and you never know what you're going to need when you need it," said Cheney. "The fact is, we do collect a lot of intelligence and without speaking about any particular target or group of targets, that intelligence capability is enormously important to the United States, through out conduct of foreign policy to the defense matters, for economic matters, and I'm a strong supporter of it."
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