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Spying on yourself, though, is truly asinine and perhaps criminal. You see, the president can officially declassify any secrets he wants, but he cannot — without official declassification — simply reveal them to NSA agents.

One can only imagine what NSA agents learned from listening to Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama as they spoke to Mrs. Merkel and 34 other friendly foreign leaders, as yet unidentified publicly.

Now we know how pervasive this NSA spying is: It not only reaches the Supreme Court, the Pentagon, the CIA, the local police and the cellphones and homes of all Americans, it reaches the Oval Office itself. Yet when the president denies that he knows of this, that denial leads to more questions.

The president claims he can start secret foreign wars using the CIA, secretly kill Americans using drones, and now secretly spy on anyone anywhere using the NSA.

Is the president an unwitting dupe to a secret rats’ nest of uncontrolled government spies and killers? Or is he a megalomaniacal, totalitarian secret micromanager who lies regularly, consistently and systematically about the role of government in our lives?

Which is worse? What do we do about it?

Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the author of seven books on the U.S. Constitution, including his most recent, “Theodore and Woodrow: How Two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedom” (Thomas Nelson, 2012).