Feinstein Won't Approve of Spying on Leaders Without Being 'Engaged in Hostilities' First

"I think that it’s important to contextualize some of these revelations, to look at what the administration is doing to review our intelligence activities, and to look at how we balance the need for security in this completely transformed world that we live in, because of the technology advances that have occurred, and then against, as I said earlier, the clear and real privacy concerns that Americans and people around the world share," said Carney.

The Guardian reported this month that Alexander plans to leave the NSA in the spring. Carney said Obama has "full confidence" in Alexander and said the review of intelligence gathering "will be completed by the end of the year."

"When it comes to the relationship that we have with various allies, this is obviously something that has been of concern, and we are working to address those concerns diplomatically, through diplomatic channels, and also in the way that we're talking about these issues now," Carney said.

At a Pentagon briefing today with New Zealand Minister of Defense Jonathan Coleman, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he wouldn't discuss anything from the National Security Council meetings.

"We are examining all of the different dynamics that are now out there and the procedures and processes. I think the White House has been very clear on that. I think those who lead our intelligence community have been very clear on that," Hagel said. "We have great respect for our partners, our allies, who cooperate with us and we cooperate with them to try to keep the world safe, to keep each other safe, to keep our nation safe. Intelligence is a key part of that. And I think this issue will continue to be explored, as it is now. But that's all I have to say."

Coleman said New Zealand is "not worried at all" about being spied upon by the U.S. "We don't believe it would be occurring," he said. "And, look, quite frankly, there'd be nothing that anyone could hear in our private conversations that we wouldn't be prepared to share publicly."

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said it's not "good enough for the president and the team around him to just claim ignorance, the president wasn't involved."

"He's been in charge now for five years. He's got to be personally involved in understanding where those lines are," the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations said on MSNBC.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said "it's hard to believe that he didn't know when he is briefed on these things."

"They usually give the citation as to where the information comes from. So if he was given any information at all about Merkel or any other world leader, the person briefing him or briefing book he would get would almost have to say where it came from, especially since it would be so controversial -- you know, so sensitive, I should say," King said on Fox. "So, no, I can't believe that as commander in chief, as president of the United States, that if it was being done he didn't know about it."

King added that world leaders may feel more indignant at the spying revelations because Obama hasn't cared to cultivate close relationships in the global community as presidents before him have done.

"I think he feels he doesn't need them; that he has more of an academic approach to policy," he said. "The fact when it comes down to it human nature is human nature. And personal relationships do mean something. Obviously each country in the end has to be for itself, and personal relationships and trust means something, and the president sorely lacks that."