I really wonder who is advising the Administration on this. This is truly a damned if you do and damned if you do not response. But I think it would be better to accept full responsibility for doing what every government does or wishes they could rather than giving the appearance that the President is out of touch and not in full control of the executive branch (you would think that there would need to be a Presidential finding for an activity such as this). And if it turns out he did know (in 2010 vice 2013) then it would be a cover-up and we know where that leads. And from a politics standpoint for someone to think that this line of strategic communications somehow protects the President must surely be misguided. To throw the NSA under the bus will not go over politically and I think not only the political opposition will jump on this, but it could very well further damage relations with our allies (worse than the spying itself) as they will perceive that the Administration is not in control of its security services and puts politics above national security. Perhaps ironically this could make the mistrust even greater – our allies are more likely to accept (privately) that they were monitored but will likely trust us less with this line of strategic communications because it appears that the Administration is 1) not in control and 2) has little to no loyalty to the US intelligence community and military which is a dangerous view from a national and international security perspective. And finally we should remember that the NSA is a military organization so there is likely to be increased civil-military friction.
I would have recommended to whomever is devising this strategic communications plan that the best course of action would have been for the Administration to accept full responsibility and then leave it at that without trying to make excuses that leave itself vulnerable to the inevitable lines of questioning that will persist for the remainder of the Administration of what did the President really know and when did he know it? I am sure we are going to see hearings on this and investigative journalists will not rest (Until Bob Woodward publishes his next book that will explain it all).