Barack Obama pulled out the “we’re not Big Brother” line again Friday in the ongoing to effort to bamboozle people alarmed about the vast National Security Agency surveillance of whole populations exposed by Edward Snowden. The important thing to him is not that the surveillance is curtailed, but that you feel comfortable with it.
Tech Crunch outlined Obama’s program to make you comfortable:
1) a new independent NSA review board that will publish recommendations on protecting civil liberties 2) a new website detailing the surveillance activities 3) changes to the Patriot Act authorizing the spying, and 4) a new public advocate to argue cases in the secret court that grants the NSA spying requests.
Reviews, public advocates, and a website (!) all with the intention of making you accept the illegal busting down of virtual walls breaking any remaining protection promised by the Fourth Amendment. Obama straight up lied when saying that
all these steps are designed to ensure that the American people can trust that our efforts are in line with our interests and our values. And to others around the world, I want to make clear once again that America is not interested in spying on ordinary people.
Obama was especially pissed off that Snowden’s revelations continue to be published via Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian, and in other media. These include irrefutable evidence – from the horse’s mouth — of ongoing NSA programs which collect all metadata from very large sections of people, including Stellar Wind, Boundless Informant, and X-KEYSCORE.
Plainly put by The Guardian:
Nothing Obama announced Friday is likely to materially alter the NSA’s ongoing mass collection of phone data and surveillance of internet communications in the short term.
* Legal disclaimer: “Torture” here is defined as anything the United States does not do, and conversely anything the United States does, including waterboarding, forced feeding of hunger strikers through nasal tubes, long-term solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, and the barbaric atrocities at Abu Ghraib are, by definition, not torture, not withstanding any international laws or treaties the United States is party to or has refused to sign. Furthermore, “murder” here is also defined as anything the United States does not do, and again, anything the United States does, including the execution of innocent people, the killing of over 200 children in drone attacks, and the deaths of millions around the world through coups, repression and war, is not murder.
Revolution — August 18, 2013 revcom.us
The Wall Street Journal, which mostly supports Obama’s spying, spoke plainly to Obama’s chief goal; to
gain public trust in the NSA programs and engage in a national debate about surveillance. But he also has said he was comfortable with the current programs. So he could say he spurred a debate and tried to address privacy concerns even if no changes result.
The New York Times editorialized, mildly, against the spying, apparently not satisfied with Obama’s sales effort:
The programs themselves are the problem, not whether they are modestly transparent. As long as the N.S.A. believes it has the right to collect records of every phone call — and the administration released a white paper Friday that explained, unconvincingly, why it is perfectly legal — then none of the promises to stay within the law will mean a thing.
Obama’s rhetoric rang like the May 23, 2013 address when he said he “wants” to close Guantanamo and would remove an obstacle to prisoners’ release — which he created — by putting a moratorium on releasing prisoners to Yemen.
Exactly ZERO prisoners have been released since his comments.
Debra Sweet is the director of World Can’t Wait, and blogs at debra.worldcantwait.net.