Sen. Tim Kaine, Virginia Democrat, said that tapping the phones of European leaders will be problematic for President Obama’s foreign policy, which has focused on working with his counterparts around the world.
“He has wisely, in my way of thinking, emphasized the need to build partnerships,” Mr. Kaine said Wednesday on MSNBC. “If you’re going to try to do that, then instances like this can be particularly corrosive.”
The president needs to be very open with other leaders and the American public about what happened and what will happen in the future to “put programs into an acceptable form,” Mr. Kaine said. He suggested that the scope of National Security Agency operations may need to be reviewed and narrowed as the country enters its last year of combat operations in Afghanistan.
Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican, said on MSNBC that changing the law is one thing, but not to blame employees at the NSA for just doing their job under current policy.
“No one likes to think about the fact that we’re spying on allies or allies are spying on us, but in the real world this goes on,” he said Wednesday. “We should be defending the NSA. … They’re patriots; they’re doing their job.”
While no one may have told Mr. Obama directly about the phone tapping, Mr. King said the president would have seen the information in his daily briefings and could have questioned where it came from. If the president really didn’t know that the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel was being tapped, “he is very disengaged,” Mr. King said. “It’s wrong to be throwing the NSA under the bus.”