Top intelligence officials said Tuesday that foreign leaders are being disingenuous when they express outrage over American snooping of their communications, saying those countries try to spy on American leaders, too.
And the chairman of the House intelligence committee said it was likely that President Obama and the White House were aware the U.S. was snooping on foreign leaders, contradicting insinuations by the White House that this kind of spying may have been going on without its knowledge.
Rep. Mike Rogers, the Michigan Republican who heads the intelligence committee, said any trained intelligence person would have known from reading the reports coming in that foreign leaders’ communications were being intercepted by U.S. intelligence.
James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, wouldn’t go as far as Mr. Rogers, saying that what the White House saw in its national security briefings wasn’t necessarily the raw communications, but rather the data and conclusions that the intelligence services drew from that.
The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that the White House and State Department both signed off on surveillance of foreign leaders’ communications, and said some in the U.S. intelligence community were angry that it appeared top political leaders were now trying to distance themselves from the spying.
Mr. Clapper said every major country’s intelligence services do the same thing, and said he wasn’t sure why there was such an outcry from foreign leaders.
“Some of this reminds me a lot of the classic movie Casablanca: ‘My God, there’s gambling going on here?’” Mr. Clapper testified to the House intelligence committee.