Reimagine the old George Washington myth in which the future president, as a lad, is confronted with the famously hatcheted cherry tree and asked about his role in it. Now imagine that Washington’s answer had been, “I am not currently chopping down and will not chop down that cherry tree.”
You see the problem, right?
That’s essentially what’s happening in a deepening trans-Atlantic feud over alleged American spying on allied world leaders.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel complained to President Barack Obama that U.S. intelligence tapped her mobile phone, with her government publicly calling the alleged behavior “a serious breach of trust” if true.
Obama responded on Wednesday with a telephone call to Merkel. And here’s the interesting part of the White House readout of that conversation:
“The President assured the Chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel,” the statement said.
“Is not”? “Will not”? They're a far cry from “has never.”