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The White House and Congress are reviewing U.S. intelligence efforts to spy on world leaders, after questions were raised about the extent the president and the congressional community with oversight over intelligence were aware of the efforts.
President Barack Obama did not learn until recently of the National Security Agency surveillance of other world leaders, including allies, a senior administration official said Monday. But other officials said the existence of the program targeting world leaders was something the president, or at least his White House staff, was aware of.
"I'm glad that he knew about the framework of these programs, especially because many Americans are concerned that these programs might be going too far," said CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.
"On one hand, it's very useful to have this intelligence, I'm sure. On the other hand, we're concerned about our privacy. So I'm glad the NSA is not on autopilot, that somebody is watching the watchers," said Brazile.
This is not the first time Obama did not knowing what was going on in his administration.
"President Obama was protected by somebody, so he didn't know, so he gets to exonerate himself and say, 'I really didn't know.' But ... if he's not responsible, who is? He has to be accountable for major decisions and major moments like this," said editor for The Hill A.B. Stoddard.
But sometimes staffers deliberately leave people at the top out of the loop, said CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Kevin Madden.
"They try to silo off different departments, or different elements within an inner circle, away from the presidency, and essentially treat information as a commodity. Some information (is) more valuable than other information," said Madden.
"There's really no good answer. If he knew, then essentially we are being misled by different people in the administration about the extent of the president's knowledge. If he didn't know, it's an abdication of even the most basic responsibilities of command and control over very important parts of his administration," said Madden.
For more from our political panel, check out the video above.