No One Told Obama About the Alleged Double Agent in Germany

Oxfam IntlOxfam IntlPresident Barack Obama was, apparently, completely out of the loop last week when an alleged double agent working for the CIA was caught in Germany's intelligence agency.

The claim raises some eyebrows, and if true, is pretty embarrassing for the commander-in-chief. He was on an already-scheduled phone call with Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel last Thursday, just hours after suspect was arrested. The New York Times reports:

Merkel chose not to raise the issue during the call. …

What is particularly baffling to [White House] officials is that the CIA did not inform the White House that its agent — a 31-year-old employee of Germany's federal intelligence service, the BND — had been compromised, given his arrest the day before the two leaders spoke. According to German news media reports, the agency may have been aware three weeks before the arrest that the German authorities were monitoring the man.

A central question, one American official said, is how high the information about the agent went in the CIA's command — whether it was bottled up at the level of the station chief in Berlin or transmitted to senior officials, including the director, John O. Brennan, who is responsible for briefing the White House.

The 31-year-old suspect was, apparently, gathering information on a German committee that was investigating American surveillance on Germans. German officials say he sold 218 secret documents for 25,000 euro ($34,000).

A second alleged spy, whose case according to BBC is "more serious" but believed to be "not connected" to the first, was also discovered recently and was being investigated yesterday. Whether or not Obama was informed about this one is unknown.

The Associated Press reported earlier that the German government today asked the latter suspect to leave the country.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, who has been outspoken about the two-part spy scandal took a jab at the U.S. "If the situation remains what we know now, the information reaped by this suspected espionage is laughable. However, the political damage is already disproportionate and serious."

German officials have expressed indignation about the revelations and many reports have emphasized the tension this puts on U.S.-German relations, but given how much the two nations collaborate with each other on spying, it's hard to know how much of an impact this scandal will ultimately have. 

For more Reason coverage of this scandal, click here and here

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • waffles||

    But he did read about it in the newspaper.

  • Swiss Servator, Alles Klar||

    Smart Power or Smart Diplomacy?

    Does the Lightworker have any idea what is going on in any part of the O!ministration?

  • Brandon||

    Only the parts that are polling well. So...he's all over the new bowling alley upgrade, maybe?

  • John||

    Of course they didn't tell him. Why would they? Obama isn't running the executive. No one is other than maybe Valarie Jereett some days. They don't tell him shit and the various cabinet heads are all acting independently.

    You knew this was so when the whole Bengazi thing happened. A US embassy was under attack and Penata and Hillary Clinton handled the entire thing. Obmaa was as far as I have seen not involved other than to say "fuck it I am going to California to a fund raiser and to play some gold". That is just mind boggling and should have been the bigger story than even the death of the ambassador. He wasn't around and no one wanted him around.

    I know there is a real problem with the Presidency having too much power. But we do need a President of some sort. Someone needs to be in charge of the executive. And right now, I really don't think anyone is.

  • UCrawford||

    Agreed. A lot of conservatives think Obama's this evil genius who has all this master plan to bring down the U.S. and everything he does is feeding into that plan. And there's some level of truth to that, I suppose...the man is an ideologue and has a very leftist view of how the world should work.

    But I think the real truth is even worse. He surrounded himself with sycophants with equally utopian views of how liberal policies work, and then he just walked away from his job because a) all he ever cared about was the adulation that goes with being President and b) he's actually a fraud with below-average intelligence and a non-existent work ethic who doesn't understand how anything around him works, and who simply doesn't have the drive or the intellectual capacity to figure it out.

    There's a reason his public appearances are so heavily managed and why most of his biggest gaffes have come when he goes off-script, away from the teleprompter...when someone's not putting words into his mouth, it's pretty easy to figure out that he can't grasp very basic concepts.

  • Gary1206||

    How would we even know when Dear Leader commits a gaffe? It won't be reported as such.

  • Doctor Whom||

    This has some of my most devoutly Obamolatrous acquaintances starting to lose their faith.

  • John||

    Really? Any particular reason?

  • Dances-with-Trolls||

    I'll take a stab.

    In the prog world-view the overwhelming thing is that They are the Good Guys and this sort of thing makes them question it in a way that is tougher to spin.

  • John||

    Are t hey so stupid they don't realize that the US government spies on other governments?

    Of all of the things about Obama to be outraged about, this is the most retarded reason available.

  • Free Society||

    From the smallfolks's point of view, there's not much to find outrageous since allies spy on each other all the time. But I love that there is outrage. I love the disillusionment with everything Obama represents.

  • Free Society||

    Foreigners care little for Obama's domestic economic policy outcomes. To provoke their ire it takes a foreign policy blunder that rhetorical blinders won't shield them from, like a policy that directly effects them or their sense of nationalism.

    Even the bombing of school children in Yemen isn't enough to dislodge their support from Obama, it takes a trivial affront to the dignity of their political leaders.

  • Tim||

    Horst: (Sinister) Okay, Mr. Burns, you win. But beware. We Germans aren't all smiles and sunshine.
    Mr. Burns: (Sarcastic) Oooh, the Germans are mad at me. I'm so scared! Oooh, the Germans! (Hiding behind Smithers) Uh oh, the Germans are going to get me!
    Horst: Stop it!
    Man: Stop, sir.
    Mr. Burns: Don't let the Germans come after me. Oh no, the Germans are coming after me.
    Man: Please stop the "pretending you are scared" game, please.
    Horst: Stop it! Stop it!
    Mr. Burns: (Pause) No! They're so big and strong!
    Man: Stop it.
    Horst: Stop it, Mr. Burns.
    Man: Please stop pretending you are scared of us, please, now.
    Mr. Burns: Oh, protect me from the Germans! The Germans--
    Horst: Burns, Stop it!

  • Sevo||

    When I was regularly in an office, we had this system where stuff that needed your attention would go in this thing called an "In Box".
    That way, most everybody got the same information, but there was always some dumb shit who DIDN'T GET THE DAMN MEMO!
    I think we've found him.

  • John Thacker||

    If I'm reading that correctly, they're not denying that the President knew about the double agent's existence (might have been in his briefing), but they're denying that he knew about the double agent being caught.

    Though honestly, spying on foreign governments is a pretty appropriate thing (even if embarrassing when you get caught).

  • John||

    The President shouldn't have known about the agent's existence. He has no reason to know. But he absolutely should have been informed about the agent being compromised.

  • ant1sthenes||

    One of the articles on the first German spy suggested that there was a no-spying agreement between Germany and the U.S. I don't know much about that (and I don't know why more articles haven't mentioned it if it exists), but it does complicate the whole argument of "but obviously the government spies on foreign nations".

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    "The 31-year-old suspect was, apparently, gathering information on a German committee that was investigating American surveillance on Germans. German officials say he sold 218 secret documents for 25,000 euro ($34,000)."

    Spying on people investigating spying! That's how our tax dollars should be spent.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Stuff like this actually makes me want to go pull the lever/punch the ballot/deflower the virgin for TEAM Red. At least when there is a TEAM Red President, the corporate media pretends like he is supposed to have some control over the Executive bureaucracy.

  • Gary1206||

    No, it's not embarrassing...that's the point, it never is. Nothing embarrasses this guy....and as long as the MSM & LIVs go along with it, I'd ride it out also if I were him.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    What else would you expect from The Observer President?

  • REMant||

    The Germans don't vote. No one told Kennedy about missiles in Turkey either.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement