McCain blamed Obama's ignorance on top administration officials and the NSA.
“If the executive did not know, it's a mistake of both the people doing it not informing their superiors, and their superiors not questioning what was going on,” McCain told the Wall Street Journal.
At a breakfast at the City Club of Chicago, McCain said that Congress needs to look into the White House's role in the NSA operations.
"We need to know exactly what the president knew and when he knew it," McCain said. "I think it calls for congressional oversight hearings and probably, perhaps, a select committee to look at the whole issue of surveillance."
McCain called allegations that the U.S. spied on 35 foreign leaders and monitored millions of phone conversations in countries like Spain "damaging to our reputation and relations with other countries throughout the world."