WASHINGTON (AP) - Confronted with missteps in his own administration, President Barack Obama has frequently pleaded ignorance, suggesting he couldn't be at fault about things he did not know. That was the case with the embarrassing healthcare.gov rollout. And, according to a U.S. official, Obama didn't know until recently that the U.S. had secretly monitored the German chancellor's phone for a decade.
It's an argument with benefits but also risks for the White House. Use it too often and the tactic emboldens critics who claim the president is incompetent, detached and not fully in control. Obama's aides say they deliberate intensively about what to tell the president. They're eager to protect his time and concentration, but want to ensure he has information he needs to make decisions, respond to questions and promote his agenda.