President Obama on Monday refused to confirm or deny a report in The Wall Street Journal indicating he was unaware that the National Security Agency was spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone.
According to the paper, the White House first learned of the operations during an internal administration review over the summer. After their revelation, the White House ordered the NSA to halt some monitoring programs, including the one tracking Merkel.
But the president refused to say whether the report was accurate on Monday, saying he would not comment on classified intelligence matters.
Obama did concede that the nation's intelligence community was "involved in a whole wide range of issues" and said he was reviewing practices to make sure they balanced security and privacy concerns.
“We give them policy direction,” Obama continued. “But what we've seen over the last several years is their capacities continue to develop and expand, and that's why I'm initiating now a review to make sure that what they're able to do, doesn't necessarily mean what they should be doing.”
Earlier Monday, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinComey to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee House cyber chairman wants to bolster workforce Trump, lower court nominees need American Bar Association review MORE (D-Calif.) called for a "total review" of U.S. intelligence gathering and intimated that the president had been unaware of the scope of NSA activities.
“The White House has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue, which I support,” Feinstein said in a statement. “But as far as I’m concerned, Congress needs to know exactly what our intelligence community is doing.”
Nine European parliamentarians arrived in Washington on Monday to investigate American intelligence practices. The White House said earlier in the day that it would provide administration officials to discuss intelligence practices with the Europeans.