President Barack Obama's insistence he was out of the loop on administration missteps like NSA's eavesdropping on world leaders, technical problems with the HealthCare.gov website, and IRS tea party targeting is implausible and troubling, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote Monday
Ticking off a slew of issues for which Obama has claimed ignorance, Milbank said "it stretches credulity to think that the United States was spying on world leaders without the president's knowledge, or that he was blissfully unaware of huge technical problems that threatened to undermine his main legislative achievement."
Milbank added White House officials "have frequently given a variation on this theme" concerning the IRS targeting scandal and the use of Justice Department subpoenas against reporters as well.
"On one level, it would be reassuring — and much more credible — if the White House admitted that Obama is more in the loop than he has let on," Milbank wrote.
"On another level, it would be disconcerting: Is it better that he didn’t know about his administration’s missteps — or that he knew about them and didn’t stop them?"
Milbank said a Republican National Committee compilation titled "The Bystander President" making the case that Obama appears to be in the dark about significant administration missteps actually "understated the number of issues."
The compilation includes the NSA spying on the German chancellor, the Obamacare rollout, an investigation of the IRS’s targeting of political groups, the failure of clean-energy company Solyndra, and attempts to go after reporters’ phone and email records.
But the Republican National Committee report didn’t mention that Obama allegedly had known nothing about an FBI investigation of an affair involving David Petraeus that led him to resign as CIA director, Milbank wrote.
"Neither did it mention two other claims that conservatives often question: Obama’s ignorance of a guns-on-the-border sting operation called 'Fast and Furious' that went awry, and his unawareness of requests for additional diplomatic security in Libya before a U.S. outpost in Benghazi was attacked," he wrote.
"There’s no reason Obama should have known about Fast and Furious or diplomatic security requests," Milbank added. "But how could he not know his spies were bugging the German chancellor?"
Milbank noted, however, White House spokesman Jay Carney has hinted the president did know the National Security Agency was bugging Chancellor Angela Merkel.
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