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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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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