On September 7, 2013 the Washington Post reported
The Obama administration secretly won permission from a surveillance court in 2011 to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency’s use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans’ communications in its massive databases, according to interviews with government officials and recently declassified material.
In other words, in direct contradiction to Obama’s flat assertions that the government was and is not doing this, denials prompted by Edward Snowden’s revelations, the Obama Administration has been and is deliberately taking both meta-data and the full contents of Americans’ electronic activities and communications.
Here is what Obama said on the Charlie Rose show on June 17, 2013:
Obama: … Now, with respect to the NSA, a government agency that has been in the intelligence-gathering business for a very long time —
CHARLIE ROSE: Bigger and better than everybody else.
BARACK OBAMA: — bigger and better than everybody else and we should take pride in that because they’re extraordinary professionals. They’re dedicated to keeping the American people safe. What I can say unequivocally is that if you are a U.S. person the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls and the NSA cannot target your e-mails.
CHARLIE ROSE: And have not?
BARACK OBAMA: And have not. They cannot and have not — by law and by rule. And unless they — and usually it wouldn’t be they, it would be the FBI — go to a court and obtain a warrant and seek probable cause. The same way it’s always been…
“Transparency,” dear friends, means lying.
“Meta-data” means “Mendacity.”
The Post article further reveals that this supervisory body, the FISA court that Obama says provides rigorous oversight to make sure nothing bad is being done, gave the Obama Administration whatever it asked for. When the Obama Administration wanted to suspend its power to look at Americans’ electronic communications in 2008, FISA said “Ok.” When in 2011 the Obama Administration changed its mind and wanted to get permission from FISA to once again spy on Americans’ electronic communications without a warrant, FISA said “Ok” again.
Note further Obama’s language in his Charley Rose interview: “I can say unequivocally … if you are a U.S. person the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls and the NSA cannot target your emails.”
Apparently, “U.S. person” must have a different meaning for Obama than what the rest of us think a “U.S. person” is.
Perhaps to the Obama Administration, “U.S. person” means “the individuals who we lie to every chance we get.”
Dennis Loo is a member of the steering committee of World Can’t Wait. His website is dennisloo.com.