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Print 14 comment(s) - last by Reclaimer77.. on Jan 23 at 12:04 PM


  (Source: Shepard Fairey/et al.)
As before everything must have a "warrant" -- but since one warrant covers everyone, that's no problem

In his second major public speech about revelations of the U.S. National Security Agency's (NSA) all-seeing campaign of spying, President Barack Obama (D) returned to his tried and true strategies including creative omission of historical context and making promises of "change" just vague enough to leave little means of verification.
 
If you were hoping the President would put an end to mass spying on Americans, think again.  He refused to back down from that policy, even as he pledged "change" and "reform" to (supposedly) make it less offensive.
 
I. History or Creative Reinvention?
 
The President began his speech talking about Paul Revere, stating:

At the dawn of our Republic, a small, secret surveillance committee, born out of the Sons of Liberty, was established in Boston. And the group’s members included Paul Revere. At night, they would patrol the streets, reporting back any signs that the British were preparing raids against America’s early patriots.

Throughout American history, intelligence has helped secure our country and our freedoms.


While this comment is technically inaccurate, the President's attempt to tie it to NSA surveillance is laughable.
 
First off, Paul Revere and others were spying on a military force -- the British army, which they viewed as an occupier.  The NSA is the occupying force -- they're spying on the people.

Paul Revere's ride
Paul Revere was spying for the people, not on the people. [Image Source: History.com]

Paul Revere and the Founding Fathers were rebelling in the first place, in part, to put an end to general warrants, warrants that allow large groups of citizens to be investigated en masse, without individual justification.  Today President Obama's policybook reads like the English monarchy's, complete with general warrants to justify universal internet records and telephony metadata seizure.  Notably, in his speech he quietly refused to end these mass warrants; in fact he hinted they are going to continue, going ahead, if he can help it.
 
Ironically he gave a strong justification for why the NSA's behavior should be viewed as illegally unconstitutional and dangerous, stating:

Totalitarian states like East Germany offered a cautionary tale of what could happen when vast unchecked surveillance turned citizens into informers and persecuted people for what they said in the privacy of their own homes....

The United States proved not to be immune to the abuse of surveillance. In the 1960s government spied on civil rights leaders and critics of the Vietnam War....

And he reiterated the false narrative of "multiple foiled attacks".  He comments:

Today, new capabilities allow intelligence agencies to track who a terrorist is in contact with and follow the trail of his travel or his funding. New laws allow information to be collected and shared more quickly and effectively between federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. Relationships with foreign intelligence services have expanded and our capacity to repel cyber attacks have been strengthened. And taken together, these efforts have prevented multiple attacks and saved innocent lives -- not just here in the United States, but around the globe.

In other words, he isn't exactly saying the NSA surveillance stopped the attacks, but that a "combined effort" stopped it.  But by throwing the NSA in the mix, he attempts to convince Americans of the necessity of spying with no clear evidence of its efficacy.  The commentary of NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander indicates that "maybe" one or two potential plots were investigated, in part using the metadata.  Gen. Alexander, like the President, could not clarify whether these plots were even in the U.S.; it's possible they were in ally states like Britain.

Gen. Alexander
NSA chief, Gen. Keith Alexander agreed to step down, some say to avoid charges.
[Image Source: Fox News]

So at the end of the day the Obama administration has spent roughly $300B USD in the last five years on a program that "maybe" stopped one or two attacks.  Imagine if police officers got a million dollars for every crime they stopped, let alone hundreds of billions of dollars!
 
II. Slippery Words Mask the Dark Truth
 
Towards the middle of the speech he did make some fair comments stating:

First, the same technological advances that allow U.S. intelligence agencies to pinpoint an al-Qaida (sale ?) in Yemen or an email between two terrorists in the Sahel also mean that many routine communications around the world are within our reach. And at a time when more and more of our lives are digital, that prospect is disquieting for all of us.

Second, the combination of increased digital information and powerful supercomputers offers intelligence agencies the possibility of sifting through massive amounts of bulk data to identify patterns or pursue leads that may thwart impending threats. It’s a powerful tool. But the government collection and storage of such bulk data also creates a potential for abuse.

Third, the legal safeguards that restrict surveillance against U.S. persons without a warrant do not apply to foreign persons overseas. This is not unique to America; few, if any, spy agencies around the world constrain their activities beyond their own borders. And the whole point of intelligence is to obtain information that is not publicly available.

But America’s capabilities are unique, and the power of new technologies means that there are fewer and fewer technical constraints on what we can do.

But his comments seemingly ignore that the NSA was also seizing American's data wholesale within the U.S. as well.  Spying on foreign states will always be a less controversial proposal in any country, that spying on one's people, so for the President to primarily only mention the less controversial spying on foreigners and Americans abroad seems highly dishonest.
 
He comments:

Improved rules were proposed by the government and approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. And we've sought to keep Congress continually updated on these activities.

Herein we encounter some seriously scary double talk.  He considers general warrants -- bulk data collection warrants that cover all Americans an "improvement".  And then he isn’t truthful about keeping Congress in the loop.  Members of Congress had no idea -- even in confidential sessions -- much of what the NSA was doing, and they have said as much.

Obama spying
The president feels bulk warrants are "an improvement" on due process. [Image Source: AP]

He comments:

What I did not do is stop these programs wholesale, not only because I felt that they made us more secure, but also because nothing in that initial review and nothing that I have learned since indicated that our intelligence community has sought to violate the law or is cavalier about the civil liberties of their fellow citizens.

This again this is a baffling assertion.  Internal audits indicate that agents "accidentally" violate the law thousands of times a year.  There were reportedly at least eight cases of so-called "LOVEINT" -- agents spying on current or former lovers.  Either the President isn't reading the reports put in front of his nose or he isn’t being truthful.

NSA Loveint
Eight NSA officials spied on former lovers since 2006.  But none of these so-called "LOVEINT" offenders was prosected for stalking their exes. [Image Source: Fox News]

He states:

To the contrary, in an extraordinarily difficult job, one in which actions are second-guessed, success is unreported and failure can be catastrophic, the men and women of the intelligence community, including the NSA, consistently follow protocols designed to protect the privacy of ordinary people. They’re not abusing authorities in order to listen to your private phone calls or read your emails.

Again, this is an outright falsehood.  Documents reveal that the NSA often does target intentionally or unintentionally innocent Americans.  In some cases -- such as the Obama administration's targeting of Occupy Wall Street activists for spying scrutiny -- investigations appear to be politically motivated.  To claim otherwise is to attempt to deceive.
 
He comments:

When mistakes are made -- which is inevitable in any large and complicated human enterprise, they correct those mistakes...

Yet his administration has done its utmost to stifle outside accounting of violations and progress in eliminating them.  And the fact that general warrants are being served against the entire population of America and "mistakes" are being made in the first place is unacceptable. 
 
That onus is not on the NSA agents themselves, necessarily, as they're (for the most part) just doing their job, as the administration says.  The onus is on the President for this unprecedented domestic surveillance campaign, something he refuses to accept accountability for.

Wiretap
Without accountability there is no liberty. [Image Source: BoingBoing]

The President states:

Given the fact of an open investigation, I’m not going to dwell on Mr. Snowden’s actions or his motivations. I will say that our nation’s defense depends in part on the fidelity of those entrusted with our nation’s secrets. If any individual who objects to government policy can take it into their own hands to publicly disclose classified information, then we will not be able to keep our people safe, or conduct foreign policy. Moreover, the sensational way in which these disclosures have come out has often shed more heat than light, while revealing methods to our adversaries that could impact our operations in ways that we might not fully understand for years to come.

But under America's current policy of general warrants, the adversary, in effect is the American public.  The President attacks those who report factual views about the NSA spying, backed by the administration's own internal documents, as sensationalists, yet refuses to speak openly to Americans.  There's nothing more sensational than making bold statements about "patriotism" and "freedom", whilst trying to deny the people of your country from discovering the truth.

III. Give Americans' Data to Private Corporate Contractors?

He comments:

We cannot prevent terrorist attacks or cyberthreats without some capability to penetrate digital communications, whether it’s to unravel a terrorist plot, to intercept malware that targets a stock exchange, to make sure air traffic control systems are not compromised or to ensure that hackers do not empty your bank accounts. We are expected to protect the American people; that requires us to have capabilities in this field.

But what the administration has is not just "some capability to penetrate digital communications".  It seizes the digital communications of nearly every single American today.  And it puts Americans at risk by seeking to weaken international cryptography standards.

fiber optics
The NSA claims it must seize all the world's data or it will be unable to protect America.
[Image Source: AP]

The President's argument is built on a false all-or-nothing premise when it comes to domestic spying.  The fact of the matter is that police had these kinds of capabilities in the pre-digital era, albeit on a smaller scale form.  But critically they did not seek general warrants or look to extend spying to every single law abiding American.  America does not need to trade its privacy for security; it is a betrayal of a Constitution to do so.

He comments:

Second, just as our civil libertarians recognized the need for robust intelligence capabilities, those with responsibilities for our national security readily acknowledge the potential for abuse as intelligence capabilities advance and more and more private information is digitized. After all, the folks at NSA and other intelligence agencies are our neighbors. They’re our friends and family.

Here we see he effectively admits that mass surveillance is a threat.

He then turns to a thinly veiled indictment of the private sector, which has increasingly been criticizing his efforts.  Firing at Google Inc. (GOOG) and other internet critics, he comments:

Challenges to our privacy do not come from government alone. Corporations of all shapes and sizes track what you buy, store and analyze our data and use it for commercial purposes. That’s how those targeted ads pop up on your computer and your smartphone periodically.

True, but this data mining is in some ways less harmful as it's on a much smaller scale than the NSA.  And I have yet to hear about the private sector looking to sabotage encryptions standards as the NSA allegedly did.  For profit data mining is a threat to privacy, certainly, but its tools are knives in a gunfight compared to the NSA's data mining firepower.
 
I think the easiest way to understand the difference between private sector data mining and the NSA's spying on the public is this: if any private corporation did the things the NSA has done, its employees would likely be going to prison, under the laws of the U.S.
 
IV. Forget All That Stuff I Didn't Tell You About, Just Trust Me
 
The President states:

But all of us understand that the standards for government surveillance must be higher. Given the unique power of the state, it is not enough for leaders to say: Trust us. We won’t abuse the data we collect.

Trust you, blindly?  Honestly, that's the "change" you want to give us -- blind trust in you when it's clear you expand upon your predecessor's most unpopular policies.

He adds:

For history has too many examples when that trust has been breached. Our system of government is built on the premise that our liberty cannot depend on the good intentions of those in power. It depends on the law to constrain those in power.

Precisely; that's why the U.S. Constitution forbids the kinds of general warrants that President George Walker Bush (R) fought to pass into law, that President Obama fought to make use of, and now that President Obama fights to preserve.

Yes we Scan
[Image Source: tumblr.com]

President Obama says:

Those who defend these programs are not dismissive of civil liberties. The challenge is getting the details right. And that is not simple.

It may not be simple, but it is simple to see that a general warrant that treats every American citizens like a criminal is not only immoral, but unconstitutional, as well.

V. Change?  A Change in Vague, Actionless Rhetoric, Perhaps

After beating around the bush for half his speech the President finally gets to what "change" he's promising, exactly (or more likely inexactly).  He states:

First, I have approved a new presidential directive for our signals intelligence activities both at home and abroad. This guidance will strengthen executive branch oversight of our intelligence activities. It will ensure that we take into account our security requirements, but also our alliances, our trade and investment relationships, including the concerns of American companies, and our commitment to privacy and basic liberties. And we will review decisions about intelligence priorities and sensitive targets on an annual basis so that our actions are regularly scrutinized by my senior national security team.

This suggestion is impossibly vague.  Maybe what is proposing will be better than nothing, but it's hard to see how these loosely defined "reviews" will preclude abuse.

He goes on:

Second, we will reform programs and procedures in place to provide greater transparency to our surveillance activities and fortify the safeguards that protect the privacy of U.S. persons. Since we began this review, including information being released today, we’ve declassified over 40 opinions and orders of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which provides judicial review of some of our most sensitive intelligence activities, including the Section 702 program targeting foreign individuals overseas and the Section 215 telephone metadata program.

And going forward, I’m directing the director of national intelligence, in consultation with the attorney general, to annually review for the purposes of declassification any future opinions of the court with broad privacy implications and to report to me and to Congress on these efforts.

This statement is kind of misleading.  The "declassified" documents have often been redacted so heavily they're virtually unreadable.  And so long as a general warrant can authorize everything from collecting telephone metadata to scanning email headers, there's a fundamental disconnect between these vaguely worded mass warrants and the activities that they are authorizing.
 
An actual first attempt at change would be to declassify all domestic mass-spying data collection efforts.  A better way to institute true change would be to stop issuing general warrants altogether.
 
He also offers some vague promise about a citizen voice on the closed-door court (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments (FISA) Act court) that issues these mass warrants:

To ensure that the court hears a broader range of privacy perspectives, I’m also calling on Congress to authorize the establishment of a panel of advocates from outside government to provide an independent voice in significant cases before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Don't expect this "voice" to be taken seriously, if this hypothetical panel sees the light of day at all.  Details are very lacking and the President has not suggested giving the people any serious power with which to stop mass spying.

He comments:

Third, we will provide additional protections for activities conducted under Section 702, which allows the government to intercept the communications of foreign targets overseas who have information that’s important for our national security. Specifically, I’m asking the attorney general and DNI to institute reforms that place additional restrictions on government’s ability to retain, search and use in criminal cases communications between Americans and foreign citizens incidentally collected under Section 702.

Again, this promise couldn't be more vague.  "Additional restriction" could be anything under the sun -- including practically nothing at all.  Given the administration's trust deficit (similar to its fiscal deficit), most will not view such vague reassurance piled on top of vague reassurance as transparent and accountable "change".
 
VI. National Security Letters and Metadata Reaping -- No End in Sight
 
He addresses the issue of national security letters (NSLs), another potentially abusable domestic surveillance power, commenting:

Fourth, in investigating threats, the FBI also relies on what’s called national security letters, which can require companies to provide specific and limited information to the government without disclosing the orders to the subject of the investigation.

Now, these are cases in which it’s important that the subject of the investigation, such as a possible terrorist or spy, isn’t tipped off. But we can and should be more transparent in how government uses this authority.

I’ve therefore directed the attorney general to amend how we use national security letters so that this secrecy will not be indefinite, so that it will terminate within a fixed time unless the government demonstrates a real need for further secrecy. We will also enable communications providers to make public more information than ever before about the orders that they have received to provide data to the government.

This sounds great.  But my concern is what exactly how broad a "real need for further secrecy" will be defined.  Will that language cover virtually all NSLs and preserve the NSL?  Or will it expose most NSLs.  I'm skeptical at best on this slippery language.

Mailboxes
The PATRIOT Act allowed FBI agents to send NSLs without direct supervision.  Usage soared by half an order of magnitude. [Image Source: Public Domain Images]

He gets to the telephone metadata collection program (which can be used to trace individuals locations and contacts), stating:

This brings me to the program that has generated the most controversy these past few months, the bulk collection of telephone records under Section 215. Let me repeat what I said when this story first broke. This program does not involve the content of phone calls or the names of people making calls. Instead, it provide a record of phone numbers and the times and length of calls, metadata that can be queried if and when we have a reasonable suspicion that a particular number is linked to a terrorist organization.
....
The program does not involve the NSA examining the phone records of ordinary Americans. Rather, it consolidates these records into a database that the government can query if it has a specific lead, a consolidation of phone records that the companies already retain for business purposes. The review group turned up no indication that this database has been intentionally abused, and I believe it is important that the capability that this program is designed to meet is preserved.

Having said that, I believe critics are right to point out that without proper safeguards, this type of program could be used to yield more information about our private lives and open the door to more intrusive bulk collection programs in the future. They’re also right to point out that although the telephone bulk collection program was subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and has been reauthorized repeatedly by Congress, it has never been subject to vigorous public debate.

For all these reasons, I believe we need a new approach. I am therefore ordering a transition that will end the Section 215 bulk metadata program as it currently exists and establish a mechanism that preserves the capabilities we need without the government holding this bulk metadata.
....

Because of the challenges involved, I’ve ordered that the transition away from the existing program will proceed in two steps.

Effective immediately, we will only pursue phone calls that are two steps removed from a number associated with a terrorist organization, instead of the current three, and I have directed the attorney general to work with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court so that during this transition period, the database can be queried only after a judicial finding or in the case of a true emergency.

Next, step two: I have instructed the intelligence community and the attorney general to use this transition period to develop options for a new approach that can match the capabilities and fill the gaps that the Section 215 program was designed to address, without the government holding this metadata itself. They will report back to me with options for alternative approaches before the program comes up for reauthorization on March 28th. And during this period, I will consult with the relevant committees in Congress to seek their views and then seek congressional authorization for the new program, as needed.

So basically what he has proposed is twofold.  First, he suggests that the metadata still be seized, but that the NSA will be authorized to inspect and scrutinize slightly less of it (perhaps hundreds of thousands of calls less, or more).  Second he suggests that the data be stored at a private contractor (by the sound of it) rather than the government's current 15-year deep storage facilities.
 
While I'm normally open to the idea of public-private partnerships, in this case I think the solution is every bit as bad as the original state of affairs.  How is it less dangerous -- financially, reputation-wise, and politically to hand the data of every single American to a private corporations such as Oracle Corp. (ORCL), Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN), AT&T Inc. (T), or Verizon Inc. (VZ).

Larry Ellison data
Should we trust corporations like Oracle with Americans' data? [Image Source: AP]


This "solution" could quite possibly lead to even greater abuses according corporate espionage, political suppression or worse.

VII. Trust Me, C'mon Trust Me (Part II)

The President adds one more "fix", commenting:

[My new] directive makes clear that the United States only uses signals intelligence for legitimate national security purposes and not for the purpose of indiscriminately reviewing the emails or phone calls of ordinary folks.

I’ve also made it clear that the United States does not collect intelligence to suppress criticism or dissent, nor do we collect intelligence to disadvantage people on the basis of their ethnicity or race or gender or sexual orientation or religious beliefs. We do not collect intelligence to provide a competitive advantage to U.S. companies or U.S. commercial sectors.

And in terms of our bulk collection of signals intelligence, U.S. intelligence agencies will only use such data to meet specific security requirements: counterintelligence; counterterrorism; counterproliferation; cybersecurity; force protection for our troops and our allies; and combating transnational crime, including sanctions evasion.

In this directive, I have taken the unprecedented step of extending certain protections that we have for the American people to people overseas. I’ve directed the DNI, in consultation with the attorney general, to develop these safeguards, which will limit the duration that we can hold personal information while also restricting the use of this information. The bottom line is that people around the world, regardless of their nationality, should know that the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don’t threaten our national security and that we take their privacy concerns into account in our policies and procedures.

I give the president credit for hitting on some of the most serious potential abuses -- corporate espionage, political suppression, etc.  The optimist in me wants to believe what the President is saying, that the blanket authority, he's asking Americans to entrust him with will not be abused.  But history -- even the President's own track record -- suggests otherwise.


The President's promises of change were scarce on details. [SOURCE: popularresistance.org]

I'm not suggesting that it has been used to engage in widespread political suppression; not yet.  But vague executive orders and heartfelt promises are not going to protect Americans in the face of mass warrants.

He adds a couple final changes, stating:

Finally, to make sure that we follow through on all these reforms, I’m making some important changes to how our government is organized. The State Department will designate a senior officer to coordinate our diplomacy on issues related to technology and signals intelligence. We will appoint a senior official at the White House to implement the new privacy safeguards that I’ve announced today. I will devote the resources to centralize and improve the process we use to handle foreign requests for legal assistance, keeping our high standards for privacy while helping foreign partners fight crime and terrorism.

I’ve also asked my counselor, John Podesta, to lead a comprehensive review of big data and privacy. And this group will consist of government officials who, along with the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, will reach out to privacy experts, technologists and business leaders and look how the challenges inherent in big data are being confronted by both the public and private sector.

All of these proposals sound respectable, but bely the true problem -- mass warrants.  So long as the general warrants stand, so long as everyday Americans are treated like criminals, freedom is being trampled upon.

VIII. A Scrap of Validity in a Sea of Vague Rhetoric

I do agree with one part of his speech unquestioningly -- its closing.  He concludes:

No one expects China to have an open debate about their surveillance programs or Russia to take privacy concerns of citizens in other places into account.

But let’s remember, we are held to a different standard precisely because we have been at the forefront of defending personal privacy and human dignity. As the nation that developed the Internet, the world expects us to ensure that the digital revolution works as a tool for individual empowerment, not government control. Having faced down the dangers of totalitarianism and fascism and communism, the world expects us to stand up for the principle that every person has the right to think and write and form relationships freely, because individual freedom is the wellspring of human progress.

Those values make us who we are. And because of the strength of our own democracy, we should not shy away from high expectations. For more than two centuries, our Constitution has weathered every type of change because we’ve been willing to defend it and because we’ve been willing to question the actions that have been taken in its defense. Today is no different. I believe we can meet high expectations. Together, let us chart a way forward that secures the life of our nation while preserving the liberties that make our nation worth fighting for.

Thank you. God bless you. May God bless the United States of America.

Nearly every U.S.-based critic of the NSA surveillance (myself included) feels the same, I would wager.  We do not criticize general warrants because we dislike our country, but because we love it.

We The People
If you love the Constitution, you must defend it. [Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

When you love something you want to protect it. 

IX. The Problem is Actions, Not Words

Some may dismiss my commentary as biased or "Obama hating", refusing to consider the factual points I raise with regard to the President's speech.  But to the President's supporters I would like to point out that I campaigned for President Obama in 2007.

In retrospect that was a grave mistake.

In watching the money he took, the things he did, his furtherance of President Bush's worst efforts like general warrants, I watch the hope -- and my belief in the President as an honest leader -- die.

I still believe in the spirit of much of Obama said in 2007.  But I've come to realize that the problem was that what he said was mostly very vague appeals to populism, meritocracy, and to those on both parties who hoped to rebuke a large, abusive centralized federal government.

Once in office, hope was replaced with status quo, or worse.  Support for a new era of meritocracy was replaced with a strengthening of the old era of plutocracy.  Was it naive to believe that a candidate awash in unprecedented amounts of special interest dollars would truly support freedom and free market?  I'd say it probably it was.

Obama on NSA spying
We've heard this speech before, Mr. President. [Image Source: The Washington Post]


What troubles me about the President's speech, is that I've heard him say these same things before.  And the results suggest a naive belief in good results is not warranted.  The problem is not the President's words. A lot of what he said is great.

The problem is that when you dig into his words versus his actions you see the distance between rhetoric and reality.  You see that the President is using vague reassurances and promises, couple at times with outright falsehoods to promote exactly the kinds of offensive threats to liberty he claims to oppose.

XI. "A" for Effort, "C" for Content

Senator Rand Paul (R-Kent.) summarized the President's speech, commenting:

What I think I heard was that if you like your privacy, you can keep it. But in the meantime, we're going to keep collecting your phone records, your e-mails, your text messages, and likely your credit card information.

He goes on to question whether one warrant can apply to "millions of peoples' records", saying he's determined to push the issue to the Supreme Court.  He gives the President "an "A" for effort, "C" for content."



I feel that is fairly accurate.

Like Sen. Paul, I still feel the President seems like a likeable, nice guy.  And I would like to believe on some of these issues he's perhaps misled by his own advisors.  But at the end of the day if the policies are bad, the policies are bad.  He's the boss and he takes the blame. 

Would I have a beer with President Obama, when he leaves office and enters civilian life?  Sure.  But the days when we have such freedoms may be coming to a close if we do not check these kinds of unchecked powers while we can.

When it comes general warrants, vague, slippery words are cold treason to the Constitution.  General warrants are absolutely anti-constitutional.  Our ancestors fought to free themselves of such warrants, and of an oppressive, hyper-powerful central ruling regime.

Today we have the tools to throw off such shackles peacefully -- if we use them before its too late.

Nokia hundred dollar bill
The Founding Fathers paid a price in blood to free America of "general searches" (i.e. mass warrants).  And they warned their ancestors that if they allowed such practices to reappear in the name of national security they would have neither freedom nor safety. [Image Source: U.S. Treasury]

When you've been caught lying, it's a little too late to say, "Hey, trust me, I'll make this right."

As President Bush said during a 2002 speech in Nashville, Tennessee:

There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.

The President's vague framework must be revised if he hopes to represents true, binding change.  The President must take responsibility that abuses -- no matter how "small" he thinks they are -- did occur.

To prevent that form occurring again there is really only one answer -- unconstitutional general warrants must end.

Source: The Washington Post



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

It's time
By Ahnilated on 1/21/2014 10:42:31 AM , Rating: 5
For impeachment and prison terms for all these constitutional violators. Lets start with Obama and go through the NSA and make an example of them like they are trying to make examples of people like Snowden.

I keep seeing them more and more try to make Edward or any of the whistle blowers into some sort of terrorist or traitor and it just sickens me. This country has gone to pot so bad in the last 20 years I don't even want to say I live here anymore. Pretty soon they will come to arrest us all for walking out of the house to head into work 1 min early. They got caught doing illegal and unconstitutional things, lied to congress under oath and then tried to lie their way out of what they said. Obama goes on national television and says he is going to continue doing unconstitutional things and doesn't care because he knows the sheeple won't do anything to him about it.

Once again, I say I am embarrassed to say I live in what was once known as "America". You are no longer free here, you are extorted to massive extents, if you disagree with what they push you are imprisoned, the corporate way is now the way Government goes because they are all paid off. Hell, the illegal immigrants are leaving America because it is becoming worse here than where they came from... Makes a person want to cry for all the people rolling over in their graves that fought for this country's way of life which is no better now than it was in Nazi Germany.

*steps off his soapbox*




RE: It's time
By Gio6518 on 1/21/2014 11:18:34 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
For impeachment and prison terms for all these constitutional violators


What you don't like Obama.....Then your a racist! ! ! ! !

But seriously, if he was any other ethnicity he would of been impeached....Nixon bugged a ROOM at Watergate and was impeached, Obama bugs the entire country and gets applause...

Really hate that Paul Revere reference, Revere was warning against the enemies of this country...So in Obamas eyes the people are the enemy, he did sign a bill approving drone attacks against American people?


RE: It's time
By sorry dog on 1/21/2014 6:15:17 PM , Rating: 2
<quote=Gio6518>But seriously, if he was any other ethnicity he would of been impeached....Nixon bugged a ROOM at Watergate and was impeached, Obama bugs the entire country and gets applause...

I wish that were true, but I'm confident that it is not.

It could be Romney and the same exact scenario and public whitewash via mass media would be happening. Like many other government agencies like DEA, Secret Service, or apparently even the IRS, these are institutional juggernauts that to a president or those close to him, present attractive opportunities to be used as tools to further their particular causes.

I sorta believe that very little of the NSA's recent crisis is directly from the President, however he has never been one to shrink from an opportunity to use a crisis to assert some leverage or control over the situation. If anything, the presidential office should maintain a healthy distance from the NSA as other than reporting the products of their work, and given histories such as Watergate, any input from an administration on how their jobs should be performed is downright suspicious.

I see no good coming from this play by the Obama administration.


RE: It's time
By ritualm on 1/21/2014 6:24:09 PM , Rating: 2
His "address" is worded such that a great majority of the people can't figure out what it means, other than think "it makes me feel better about this 'metadata' scandal". Then there are virtual Obama mouthpieces e.g. Ammohunt, who claim everything is A-OK and we should trust the government, while vultures of misery were greedily circling them for dinner.

When it's more patriotic to die than to live, there is a problem. Honestly, World War 3 starting tomorrow would be a greater relief for a lot of us than more of the same by El Blacko.


RE: It's time
By unimatrix725 on 1/22/2014 12:37:31 AM , Rating: 3
I agree. Please note Clinton was impeached for a blowjob. This is allot worse in my book! I even feel as the author. I believed once in the President, where now I have no faith. Ben Franklin was right....


RE: It's time
By Reclaimer77 on 1/23/2014 11:54:32 AM , Rating: 2
He was impeached for lying under oath in court. It could have been about littering or jaywalking, the law is the law.

But that was back when we cared about holding the President to any kind of standard.


RE: It's time
By Reclaimer77 on 1/23/2014 12:04:39 PM , Rating: 2
*edit* not in a court, but Congressional hearings.

Obama just lies to Congress, right to their face, and nobody does anything about it.


Was it just me....
By sorry dog on 1/21/2014 7:08:06 PM , Rating: 2
...or was that speech last week like the longest bunch of "what hell did you just talk about for the last hour," dribble to hit TV this year??

the article above captures the main meat of it in a few sentences...
quote:
Finally, to make sure that we follow through on all these reforms, I’m making some important changes to how our government is organized. The State Department will designate a senior officer to coordinate our diplomacy on issues related to technology and signals intelligence. We will appoint a senior official at the White House to implement the new privacy safeguards that I’ve announced today. I will devote the resources to centralize and improve the process we use to handle foreign requests for legal assistance, keeping our high standards for privacy while helping foreign partners fight crime and terrorism.


Which I translate as, "I'm making some important changes, because the NSA has been getting a bunch of juicy info without sharing it with us. So I'm going to appoint one of my buddies to watch over them (out of their budget), so he tell me the really good stuff and give me a way to tell them how to do their jobs, and at the same time my buddy will run interference if any of our foreign friends bitch about it.




RE: Was it just me....
By Reclaimer77 on 1/21/2014 7:20:36 PM , Rating: 3
His idea to "fix" the NSA is to essentially take oversight out of the hands of Congress, and have the NSA directed exclusively by the President and only answerable to him.

Like all his "important changes" in how the Government is organized, once again he's removing the legal checks and balances and consolidating as much power as he can onto himself and his office.


RE: Was it just me....
By croc on 1/21/2014 11:19:55 PM , Rating: 2
Now we know why Obama was playing golf with P.M. John Key while they were both holidaying in Hawaii... ("John, I wanna pick your brains a minute... How do you get away with being the only oversight for your GCSB?" "Well, Barry - You don't mind if I call you Barry, do you? - As long as nothing like that DotCom fiasco comes along, for me it is just fine. They're an easy bunch to watch over, I basically just let them run off and do what they need to, they don't ask much of me. By the way, when are your guys going to get off their bums and go for extradition on my DotCom problem, any way? He's a problematic S.O.B., y'know. Starting his own political party now." "Well, John, I'll get the AG to put a hurry up on that wee issue. And would you send me a copy of your law giving the PM legal oversight of the GCSB? I'm sure we can work something up similar, but no point re-inventing the wheel, now, is there?" "I'll have my legal team forward your AG the relevant texts tomorrow. Soon enough, Barry? Oh, don't forget - you owe me five for the last hole.")


By powerwerds on 1/21/2014 1:08:38 AM , Rating: 2
I always feel like somebody's watching me
I'm paranoid I can't sleep I'm in a spy game
I think these corporate politicians out to get me man




IT's Not Obama's Fault!
By Arsynic on 1/21/2014 11:01:37 AM , Rating: 2
He's an outsider fighting for us against the evil people within the government--except when the government does something positive. Then it was all his idea--in fact he lead the effort.




Jason Jason Jason..
By coburn_c on 1/21/2014 5:16:04 PM , Rating: 2
Brevity is a great charm of eloquence.

Good article tho.




Great article
By Dorkyman on 1/20/2014 9:32:04 PM , Rating: 1
Very impressive thought going into this article.

What else should we expected from the Narcissist in the White House? It should be crystal clear by now to everyone that he fervently believes in centralized planning by people like him who of course know how to take care of us better than we can do ourselves.

Furthermore, he has amply demonstrated that he will lie without twinge of remorse in order to advance his worldview. I think it was Bill Clinton back in 2008 who said Obama was "an unusually good liar." Sadly, the sheeple didn't care and we will all pay for the incompetence for many years.




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