A sad irony of Barack Obama’s presidency is that a man who wanted to repair U.S. relations abroad has instead had to cope with damaging new strains with allies, following Edward Snowden’s revelations about National Security Agency surveillance overseas.
For the White House, the NSA disclosures have been a bottomless pit. Officials don’t know how much information Snowden took from classified files, or how much he may have stashed in encrypted “cloud” storage. They can inventory the documents he viewed, but they don’t necessarily know if he downloaded and kept them. It’s hard to get in front of a scandal when you don’t know what’s coming next.