President Obama doesn’t merely claim ignorance of the IRS’ targeting of politically conservative groups or the Department of Justice’s targeting of journalists: according to The New York Times, Obama was also ignorant of the extent of NSA surveillance. According to the Times, “aides said Mr. Obama was surprised to learn after leaks by Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, just how far the surveillance had gone.” David Plouffe, Obama’s advisor, said, “Things seem to have grown at the NSA. I think it was disturbing to most people, and I think he found it disturbing.”
President Obama has repeatedly claimed ignorance on scandals plaguing his administration.
In October, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said Obama didn’t know about failures of Healthcare.gov. In May, Obama said he knew nothing about the IRS scandal: “I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the IG report before the IG report had been leaked through the press.” That same month, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama had no clue that the DOJ was targeting the Associated Press: “Other than press reports, we have no knowledge of any attempt by the Justice Department to seek phone records of the AP.”
In November 2012, Obama said he knew nothing about the scandal surrounding then-CIA Director David Petraeus. Carney denied in June 2012 that Obama knew anything about the Fast and Furious scandal: “[E]veryone knows the President did not know about this tactic until he heard about it through the media.”