Any wonder why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may not trust President Barack Obama?
Looking to protect a key legacy issue, his “historic” nuclear arms agreement with Iran, Obama had the National Security Agency step up its efforts to spy on Israel, according to the Wall Street Journal. In the process, which began late in the president’s first term and had bipartisan approval, the agency captured private conversations involving members of Congress.
An “Oh-s— moment,” as a senior U.S. official described it.
The U.S., pursuing a nuclear arms agreement with Iran at the time, captured communications between Mr. Netanyahu and his aides that inflamed mistrust between the two countries and planted a political minefield at home when Mr. Netanyahu later took his campaign against the deal to Capitol Hill.
The National Security Agency’s targeting of Israeli leaders and officials also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups. That raised fears—an “Oh-s— moment,” one senior U.S. official said—that the executive branch would be accused of spying on Congress.
The White House was concerned that Israel would pursue a preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities before a deal could be reached with the Persian Gulf country.
The spying on conversations between Israeli officials and U.S. lawmakers was stepped up earlier this year ahead of Netanyahu’s visit to Capitol Hill to denounce the nuclear deal that was in the works, the Wall Street Journal reported.
And while Obama vowed in 2014 to curtail eavesdropping on friendly heads of state, Netanyahu was exempted from that decree.
New York Post op-ed editor Seth Mandel posted more from the WSJ on Twitter:
“I am confused by people saying Obama’s “Nixonian” — as if Nixon ever dared dream up this stuff,” Mandel wrote in another post.
All of which prompted social media users to wonder if the executive branch of the U.S. government spying on the legislative branch might be illegal?
Here’s a sampling of responses from Twitter:
— Megawatt Herb Drench (@mdrache) December 29, 2015
@SethAMandel I’m pretty sure this is a direct violation of the Separation of Powers.
— Dread Pirate Cates (@drawandstrike) December 29, 2015
— David Kahane (@dkahanerules) December 29, 2015
— Panda for Paris (@MarkAWebster1) December 29, 2015
@SethAMandel A lawless President……
— Paul Drake (@PaulWDrake) December 29, 2015
— R.d. Preston (@RD_Preston) December 30, 2015
So @POTUS put U.S. intelligence assets on Congress in order to force deal with a foreign power. How is this not the definition of treason?
— Bob Owens (@bob_owens) December 29, 2015
Good God. The man is utterly lawless. https://t.co/WyG5khALyb
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) December 29, 2015