Some U.S. officials have said that Obama didn’t know about problems with the health care enrollment site before it launched and that he only recently learned about a National Security Agency operation that wiretapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone for a decade.
“It is my understanding that President Obama was not aware Chancellor Merkel’s communications were being collected since 2002,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said. “That is a big problem.”
But other officials said Obama — or at least his White House staff — did know about it.
Questions about what the President knew and when he knew it have important implications, analysts say. If Obama was aware, that could mean he isn’t being clear with the American public now. And if he wasn’t aware, that could mean his own staff kept him in the dark.
“There’s really no good answer,” said Republican strategist Kevin Madden. “If he knew, essentially we’re being misled by different people in the administration about the extent of the President’s knowledge. If he didn’t know, it’s an abdication of even the most basic responsibilities of the command and control over very important parts of his administration, and that becomes a problem.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to detail what Obama knew and when. On Monday, he said tying topics like problems with the Obamacare website and reports about NSA spying is “conflating a bunch of very disparate issues.”