POLITICS

Obama Kept In The Dark About Blown Spying Operation In Germany: Report

07/09/2014 10:43 am ET | Updated Jul 09, 2014

President Obama was kept in the dark about a blown U.S. spying operation in Germany, according to the New York Times.

A 31-year-old German man was arrested by German authorities July 2 on suspicion of spying for foreign intelligence services. They did not identify the suspect or the intelligence services.

When Obama spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the phone last Thursday, Obama did not know about the man's arrest, and the matter did not come up, according to U.S. officials. The C.I.A.'s failure to tell the president worried White House officials.

The New York Times reports:

At the White House, senior officials have expressed concern that the latest allegations could set back relations with Germany just as Mr. Obama and Ms. Merkel are struggling to move past the distrust generated by the Snowden disclosures, including the revelation that the N.S.A. had tapped Ms. Merkel’s cellphone.

What is particularly baffling to these officials is that the C.I.A. 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 C.I.A.’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.

Merkel did comment on the matter Monday, saying if the reports of spying are true, it would be a "clear contradiction" of trust between the U.S. and Germany.

German authorities are now investigating a second spy case reportedly involving the U.S.

Below, more from the AP:

BERLIN (AP) — German authorities are investigating a second spy case reportedly involving the U.S., a week after the arrest of a German intelligence employee cast a new shadow over relations between the two countries.

Federal prosecutors said Wednesday that police raided properties in the Berlin area on "initial suspicion of activity for an intelligence agency." They did not elaborate or specify what intelligence agency was involved, but said they had not made an arrest.

"We have investigations in two cases of suspected espionage, a very serious suspicion," government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin. He declined to provide further details, citing the ongoing investigations.

The daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported, without naming sources, that the man being investigated worked at Germany's Defense Ministry and is suspected of spying for the United States. Die Welt newspaper reported, also without naming sources, the man was a soldier in the German army who had aroused the suspicion of Germany's military counter-intelligence agency because of his close contacts to alleged U.S. spies.

Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Uwe Roth declined to confirm the reports, but said the case fell "into the ministry's area of responsibility" and that Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen had been informed.

State Department officials traveling with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Beijing had no immediate comment.

Last week, a 31-year-old German intelligence employee was arrested on suspicion of spying for foreign powers since 2012. German media have reported that he spied for the United States and came to authorities' attention when he recently offered his services to Russian officials in Germany by email.

The case has frayed relations between Berlin and Washington, which were already strained by reports last year that the National Security Agency spied on Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone.

The U.S. ambassador to Berlin was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Friday after news of that case broke. He was asked to help clarify the case.

Ambassador John B. Emerson was at the ministry again Wednesday for a meeting with a senior official, Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said. U.S. Embassy spokesman Peter Claussen said the meeting had been arranged on Tuesday at the embassy's request.

Also on HuffPost:

Obama With Celebrities
Suggest a correction
399 Comments

CONVERSATIONS