(CNN) – Following media reports that the National Security Agency tapped the phones of about 35 world leaders, Rep. Peter King said he “can't believe that the President wouldn't have known” more details on the extent of the NSA’s surveillance programs.
"He certainly should have known, if he didn’t,” the former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.” “I think that's almost more of a serious issue that something like that at that level would be conducted without him knowing it."
The New York Republican, the current chairman of the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, suggested a significant failure within the administration if the President held negotiations with top foreign leaders without knowledge of the surveillance of their private phone calls.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, issued a statement on Monday confirming recent reports of NSA spying and saying that the White House will stop the surveillance of allies.
King defended the NSA program, again urging the President to stop "apologizing" for the surveillance. He also declined to support stopping the collection intelligence on U.S. allies.
"The NSA has done more to save German lives than the German army has done since WWII,” he said.
“The NSA has provided so much intelligence to the Germans and the French and other Europeans countries to save them from terrorist attacks, they should be thankful to us not going through this charade."
Over the past week, reports have surfaced that the NSA collected mass phone data from several countries, including the wiretapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the Obama administration ordered a halt to some eavesdropping after learning of it this summer.
Obama did not learn until recently of the NSA surveillance of other world leaders, including allies, a senior administration official told CNN. However, other officials said the president or at least his White House staff did know about it.
Last week, the President ordered a review of the NSA's surveillance activities, both domestic and internationally.
Oh puh-lease Rep King.. more right wing witch hunting??? Spying is ubiquitous.. EVERYBODY does !! Yet another conveniently manufactured issue coming from a Conservative source outside the US?? Ummm..
Like king himself knew nothing about it. This has been going on for decades.
I promise you that not a single German life was saved by listening in to Chancellor Merkel's cell phone traffic. I'm pretty sure she isn't keeping regular contact with terrorist organizations. Also, it was President George W. Bush's NSA that started doing this. Why would Obama know? It's not the kind of question he would be asking off the cuff. "By the way, do we happen to be listening in on any allied leaders' telephone calls?" Get real. I'm way more concerned about the domestic surveillance, and Americans should be, too.
A better question: GW Bush should have cared more about al Qaeda being determined to strike in the U.S., but instead cared more about skipping off to his ranch in Texas to chop brush.
I believe the President knew. I've got no reason to believe that. I just do.