U.S. Spying on EU: Is White House Damage Control Version Credible?

European officials are storming in Washington to ask for explanations about the spying scandal. A German delegation including intelligence VIP members, are now traveling to DC. They will join the 9 MEPs who arrived yesterday to gather details about the National Security Agency operations, whose director by the way will not receive them. They will interview people related to it, with congressmen and members of civil society.

Meanwhile the White House is working under the clock on damage control. Did President Obama know that Angela Merkel’s phone was tapped? According to the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, yes, he was aware. Although the NSA issued a statement on Sunday saying that Obama knew nothing. The official version so far is that, after an internal investigation, the White House learned of the espionage program to European leaders last summer and automatically ordered the NSA to abandon it. And that during the nearly five years that lasted, Obama had no clue of what was going on.

While the public outrage spreads in European countries (media reports claim the NSA secretly monitored as many as 60m phone calls in Spain in just one month), the White House is sticking to a message: the NSA has so many operations and open listening that it is impossible to inform the President of each and every one of them. This is the script that are now carefully repeating and filtering to the media (see the WSJ today, for example).

About the Author

Ana Fuentes
Columnist for El País and a contributor to SER (Sociedad Española de Radiodifusión), was the first editor-in-chief of The Corner. Currently based in Madrid, she has been a correspondent in New York, Beijing and Paris for several international media outlets such as Prisa Radio, Radio Netherlands or CNN en español. Ana holds a degree in Journalism from the Complutense University in Madrid and the Sorbonne University in Paris, and a Master's in Journalism from Spanish newspaper El País.

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