NSA Says It Stopped Spying on Angela Merkel “This Summer”

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Is this story actually true, or is it a desperate attempt by the NSA to pretend that they had stopped spying on foreign leaders before they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar? Beats me, but here it is:

The National Security Agency ended a program used to spy on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a number of other world leaders after an internal Obama administration review started this summer revealed to the White House the existence of the operation, U.S. officials said.

….The White House cut off some monitoring programs after learning of them, including the one tracking Ms. Merkel and some other world leaders, a senior U.S. official said. Other programs have been slated for termination but haven’t been phased out completely yet, officials said.

….The senior U.S. official said that the current practice has been for these types of surveillance decisions to be made at the agency level. “These decisions are made at NSA,” the official said. “The president doesn’t sign off on this stuff.” That protocol now is under review, the official added.

Here’s my guess at a timeline: (1) Snowden documents are released starting in early June. (2) NSA starts damage assessment in mid June. (3) They decide that monitoring of foreign leaders is probably going to be outed, so they tell the White House, which cuts off the program. (4) The White House can now truthfully say that the monitoring was cut off “this summer.”

Anybody got a better guess?

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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