NSA program under review after allies object to spying

Posted at: 10/29/2013 9:42 AM
Updated at: 10/29/2013 9:47 AM
By: Tracie Potts, NBC News

Photo: NBC News

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC News) -- Lawmakers are looking for answers on whether the U.S. has been snooping on its allies, but for how long, and who knew about it. 

Today the house intelligence committee hears from the head of the NSA. The director of national intelligence and the justice department on what type of surveillance the National Security Agency can and cannot do.

The White House says President Obama didn't know the NSA was monitoring phone calls of world leaders - including Germany's Angela Merkel. "Was Obama calling up Keith Alexander and saying 'I want you to listen to Angela Merkel' no way," said James Lewis, CSIS.                 

"I don't think it's good enough for the President and the team around him to just claim ignorance," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, (R) Utah.               

In an interview on "America with Jorge Ramos" - on the cable network Fusion - the President admitted the buck stops with him. "I'm initiating now a review to make sure that what they're able to do doesn't necessarily mean what they should be doing," said President Obama.

As part of that review, a senior administration official says they're looking at no longer spying on heads of state - but a final decision hasn't been made. 

Germany's calling for an investigation. "We are mindful that some of these disclosures have caused tension in our relationships," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, 

In a statement, the head of the senate intelligence committee - democrat Dianne Feinstein - says the U.S. should not be snooping on its allies.