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Many expect that more stringent rules will be placed on the NSA

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to discuss the changes planned for the National Security Agency's (NSA) surveillance programs this week. 

According to The Washington Post, Obama will announce the changes Friday, January 17. Many expect that more stringent rules will be placed on the NSA, more clearly spelling out what it can and cannot do. 

Back in December 2013, a presidential review panel made 46 recommendations regarding greater restraint on the NSA's surveillance programs, which will have to be accepted by President Barack Obama and U.S. Congress before being put into practice. The recommendations were submitted that same month. 
One of the major recommendations involves the elimination of bulk collection of phone call records (known as "metadata"). The NSA said it collected metadata in bulk and filtered through it afterward in an attempt to make connections when searching for terrorist threats.

However, the panel said that this method of data collection hasn't proved to be more effective or beneficial than more targeted forms. It further stated that the program has made "modest" contributions at best, and that there's no proof the outcome would have been any different without the metadata bulk collection. 
The NSA has defended the bulk collection of metadata, saying it's necessary to keep the country safe. NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander even said it's the only way the NSA can "connect the dots." 
Another big recommendation from the panel was to conduct five tests before Washington decides to spy on foreign leaders: U.S. leaders should determine whether such surveillance is merited by major threats to national security; whether the other nation involved has leaders we should accord a high degree of respect and deference; whether there is reason to believe the foreign leader has been deceitful; whether there are other ways to obtain the information, and weigh the negative consequences if the surveillance were to become public knowledge. 

President Barack Obama
Yet another major recommendation is the limitation of on National Security Letters, which allow certain government agencies demand business records from both individuals and companies without any independent or judicial review. The panel said these letters should only be issued after a judicial review, and gag orders should also be limited.

The NSA has been under the microscope ever since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details about the NSA's secret spy programs to the media early last year. In August 2013, reports said that the NSA admitted to touching 1.6 percent of total globe Web traffic. Its technique was to filter data after harvesting it, which led to over-collection on a major scale. It was later revealed that Snowden conned between 20 to 25 NSA employees to give him their login credentials and passwords while working at the NSA regional operations center for a month in Hawaii last spring. Snowden reportedly told the NSA employees that he needed their passwords in order to do his job, and after downloading secret NSA documents, he leaked the information to the media.

Snowden told the media last month that his mission is complete after spending the last year leaking secret NSA documents. 
“For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” said Snowden. “I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.

“All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed. That is a milestone we left a long time ago. Right now, all we are looking at are stretch goals.”

However, the NSA's questioning is just beginning. Earlier this month, the NSA refused to answer a direct question from U.S. Senator Bernard "Bernie" Sanders (D-Verm.) regarding whether the NSA "spies" on Congress. It said it couldn't address the question because of national security. 

Source: The Washington Post

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By MrBlastman on 1/13/2014 11:38:15 AM , Rating: 5
Is multi-fold.

First, we must hold everything the NSA has done to the letter of the Constitution. Anywhere it has violated a single principle, individuals within both...

The Congress
The Presidency

That had any say with this... need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law in public court. That's right--public court, televised for everyone to see.

Second, Edward should be granted amnesty. He is an American hero. He has done a great service to our people and our country. This should be an example for anyone else within the Government afraid to speak up--and they should be. Those in power historically have done everything needed to keep their power. Look no further than British royalty and the lengths they went to in the Middle Ages. Think that sort of stuff doesn't happen anymore? Think again. It still does... you just don't hear about it.

Third, repeal the Patriot Act. I can't believe that crap was ever passed in the first place. Americans don't need to give up freedoms because incompetent leadership and agencies dropped the ball prior to 9/11. Nobody was held accountable and instead, Americans are being held to it against our will.

Fourth, the rest of America needs to wake up and stop allowing this mess to go on, any longer. How we do that is open for debate. The end result is simple: Considerably smaller Federal Government, term-limits for Congressional members and those that are serving, be forced to bathe in their own laws (ahem... national healthcare).

Anything else is just talk. Obama is talking. The whole of Washington is talking. There is no transparency right now. It is all secret doors and back rooms that we're left wondering about (or not).

I bet I could make this list a lot longer, but it is a start.

By MrBlastman on 1/13/2014 12:06:23 PM , Rating: 5
Anyways, perhaps America needs to wake up and realize that its constitution isn't really good enough.

Baloney. Our Constitution is fine. It just needs to be treated with the respect that it deserves rather than printed on toilet paper rolls in DC.

Your Charter of Rights and Freedoms is very similar to our Bill of Rights and Constitution. I see no reason why it is "better" per-say; they both seem to get the job done fine.

You see, you can play with words in a document all you want. They will never mean anything if they aren't honored and upheld.

By retrospooty on 1/13/2014 12:19:49 PM , Rating: 5
Yup... The constitution is great. It is a great document made by great men that were great enough and humble enough to know that they couldn't possibly foresee what the future might hold and they left the book open for amendments... The only flaw is they had no idea we would be led by such a group of criminals and cowards as our current congress (as well as the last umpteen congresses before them) to allow something like the [cough] "patriot act". . I believe had they known the country would be ran by such slimey individuals they would have made it a tighter process.

By nafhan on 1/13/2014 12:34:31 PM , Rating: 3
I think you're shortchanging the authors of the Constitution. If you have lawmakers who ignore the letter and intent of the law, it doesn't matter what the law says.

The only real solution to these types of problems is to keep the slimeballs out of office, and to a large degree, that's a failure of "we the people". Between those who don't care, and those who blindly support party politics, it's not surprising we're in the situation we are.

By Solandri on 1/13/2014 2:37:39 PM , Rating: 3
Actually, I'd blame part of the blame for that on we the people. By placing the unrealistic demand that our politicians be squeaky clean before we'll vote for them, we've created a climate where any honest politician can't be elected because everyone has some skeletons in their closet. Consequently, the only politicians who get elected are those who are willing to lie about their past.

Be realistic. Don't listen to the pundits and extremists who nitpick on every small flaw in a candidate. Real people, every single one of them, have flaws. The lack of flaws should set off warning bells in your head that the candidate is either a liar, or the press is so enamored by him that they're not doing their job to vet him out. The only time you're going to meet a politician who exactly matches your ideals is if you yourself run for office.

By nafhan on 1/13/2014 2:59:29 PM , Rating: 2
I'd temper this to fall under the party politics thing. A lot of people only have the unrealistic expectations of the other side.

By roykahn on 1/14/2014 5:33:24 AM , Rating: 1
any honest politician can't be elected because everyone has some skeletons in their closet

What?! Being war criminals hasn't stopped the last two presidents from being re-elected. I don't know how much more far-removed from "squeeky clean" you can get than that.

By retrospooty on 1/13/2014 4:00:20 PM , Rating: 2
"If you have lawmakers who ignore the letter and intent of the law"

True, but congress passed the patriot act, thus making that the law even though it clearly contradicts the freedoms outlined in the constitution. Either way, they suck, I think we all agree on that. LOL.

By JediJeb on 1/14/2014 12:10:27 PM , Rating: 2
True, but congress passed the patriot act, thus making that the law even though it clearly contradicts the freedoms outlined in the constitution. Either way, they suck, I think we all agree on that. LOL.

The biggest problem lies in that until a case is brought before the Supreme Court by someone who says the law has harmed them or interfered with their rights, the Supreme Court can not label the law unconstitutional even if it clearly is.

By BSMonitor on 1/13/2014 4:47:59 PM , Rating: 1
The only flaw is they had no idea we would be led by such a group of criminals and cowards

Congress?? And who is responsible for them?? Only the corporate sponsored pinheads make the ballots...

The real flaw with America is the unanticipated lengths to which the wealthy will go to FUCK over the average American who just wants a job, home, car and kids..

You aren't American unless you want to be a greedy SOB like them.

By retrospooty on 1/13/2014 9:56:44 PM , Rating: 1
I guess it's not surprising to know that you can be a complete maniac on a wide range of subjects. At least you are consistent... Do you save all this wisdom for the internet, or are you an asshat every day?

By Monkey's Uncle on 1/14/2014 1:35:23 PM , Rating: 1
Asshat consistency is a skill only long hard schooling can provide. I think this one has earned his degree.

By BSMonitor on 1/14/2014 5:46:09 PM , Rating: 2
LMAO, Ohh the wisdom of the self-righteous A-hole..


By ZorkZork on 1/13/2014 1:33:24 PM , Rating: 3
Point is: While the constitution is fine, it is not the reason why the US is a free country. The reason why the citizens of the United States of America are (somewhat) free is the continous (lack of) willingness the elect sensible politicians and throw out the ones who aren't.

Same thing for the rest of the world. It is not the size of the government or words on any piece of paper that makes the US free. Small government is more about efficiency and to a lesser extend less wealth redistribution.

By MrBlastman on 1/13/2014 1:38:35 PM , Rating: 3
The only reason why we are a free country still with any freedoms left is our Second Amendment.

Small government is more about efficiency and to a lesser extend less wealth redistribution.

There is no wealth distribution in America right now. It is only hoarded by the top. See Second Amendment and search history for Revolution in France. I can only see it ending this way at some point in the future. The people will only tolerate so much.

The imbeciles voting have allowed all this to happen--all of us.

By MrBlastman on 1/13/2014 4:58:14 PM , Rating: 2
I'm the only one that will be laughing when you come crawling to my doorstep begging for help if this place were every to turn into total chaos.

There's nothing stupid about having a gun. The only idiocy is believing in utopia or everything is beyond your own control.

Stupid is saying to yourself: "Well, the boat is sinking. I might as well take my last breath and drown on my way to meet Davy Jones." Smart is being prepared and willing to take action to help yourself and others.

But whatever, I shouldn't bother lecturing to a fool. You've already shown yourself to be just that.

By ZorkZork on 1/14/2014 2:46:01 AM , Rating: 1
Check out Mexico if you want to see how a failed state overflowing with guns looks like. There will always be someone who is faster on the trigger, has more guns and/or bigger guns. Your guns will have no impact when the people you are up against are ruthless criminals. Instead hope that you are friends with the winner ... and in a civilized society that will always be the police (aka the government) simply because anything else is unacceptable to the middle-class.

By MrBlastman on 1/14/2014 2:14:47 PM , Rating: 2
There is nothing civilized about a police-state.

By BSMonitor on 1/14/2014 5:53:26 PM , Rating: 1
I am not a coward.. I would stand in the street in front of God and everyone and tell my brother, my neighbor, my friend employed by the U.S. government to go ahead and shoot and kill an unarmed citizen of this country.

You cower in your hole you selfish POS.

By MrBlastman on 1/15/2014 3:45:08 PM , Rating: 2
Owning a gun and having a carry permit is far from selfish. It is a responsibility and an acceptance that come the time, you will be willing to stand up for your fellow brothers and neighbors and defend them from any evil that tries to harm them.

For a man of God, you sure are hateful and spiteful.

By maven81 on 1/13/2014 8:09:35 PM , Rating: 1
The only reason why we are a free country still with any freedoms left is our Second Amendment.

Oh man that really cracks me up. How can you honestly believe that? In case you haven't noticed, it's not the 18th century. If the government went after you they wouldn't send a couple of guys with guns. They'd send a drone with a homing missile that could probably target your cell phone signal. What's your gun going to do against a missile? Or even a tank for that matter, if they go the cheaper route.
Heck, if they are as sinister as a lot of people think, don't you think they'd just take out an entire city block to get to you?
But something tells me they wouldn't even bother. It would be far easier to do something like freeze all your assets, so unless you have wads of cash under your mattress you'd be pretty screwed.

I say let go of this rambo fantasy already, and vote these stooges out. It's the one method that's guaranteed to work.

By MrBlastman on 1/13/2014 9:52:48 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not talking about myself, jackass. I'm talking about the millions of armed American citizens.

The 2nd Amendment's original intention wasn't to allow citizens to protect themselves against an enemy. It was intended to allow the citizens to have weapons to protect themselves from their own Government. Think of it as an incentive... to keep them in line. Our Founders remembered clearly about the oppressive British rule they were under and wanted to protect our future from it ever happening again.

As any historian you'd like about this. They'll tell you what I'm saying speaks the truth.

By JediJeb on 1/14/2014 12:33:26 PM , Rating: 2
This is true. What the others fail to think about is what happens after the drones take out the first few upstarts?

First most people are frightened, then as it happens more often people begin to become angry and less apt to blindly follow. At some point the movement reaches critical mass.

When critical mass is reached, drone strikes are no longer enough and the military must put boots on the ground. What happens when soldiers are then asked to attack their own neighbors and family? Some obey, but some will not.

If you have a country where the entire population is unarmed, then the boots on the ground portion ends quickly and usually the government wins and squashes the rebellion. If the entire population is armed, then you have a long bloody fight and that is when you begin to have problems for the government. It is hard to put a sugar coating on blood flowing in the streets. If all of the guns had been taken away from the Colonists from the beginning, we would still be living under British Rule. The American Revolution would have lasted a week before those few who were fed up had been arrested and disappeared forever. Once blood was spilled though, people began to sympathize with their neighbors instead of the far away government. Small events began to add up and as history shows critical mass was reached. I hope it never has to happen again. If we would use our power at the polls it could be taken care of cleanly, but it seems most of the population just can't see the big picture or even care until something drastic begins to happen.

By maven81 on 1/14/2014 2:45:45 PM , Rating: 2
Don't be a dumbass. No one is arguing about why the 2nd Amendment was created. What you don't seem to understand though, is that when it was written the weapons of the citizens, and the weapons available to the government were actually on par. An armed rebellion wasn't really too far fetched.

Times have changed. And you haven't addressed a single thing I've said. Doesn't matter if there are 10 million people with guns when you're dealing with a government that has freaking nuclear weapons.
I would almost like to see your absolutely crazy scenario play out, just so I could see you pee your pants once you realize what you're up against.

By MrBlastman on 1/14/2014 3:41:44 PM , Rating: 1
Are you smoking crack? After reading what you just said I'm certain of it.

Doesn't matter if there are 10 million people with guns when you're dealing with a government that has freaking nuclear weapons.

For one thing, our leaders would never nuke our own people. They'd destroy the land the need to tax. Oh, gee, great idea, let's nuke our whole country so we're lords of shit! Great idea!

Nukes used against our own people would never happen. It would never get that far even if it were an option.

Who's the loon here? Me or you? Go look in a mirror. You might be surprised. In fact, I'm not even going to try and rationalize a detailed reply. Your own response is far too asinine to warrant one.

By BSMonitor on 1/14/2014 5:50:47 PM , Rating: 2
LMFAO.. It was intended to allow the Southern States to maintain their control of the slaves who vastly outnumbered them..

You F'ing idiot.. Millions of people in the North, gun ownership at around 15%.. How oh how did they fight off the British, their government, without everyone owning a gun???

By MrBlastman on 1/15/2014 3:43:27 PM , Rating: 2
You're beyond hope.

Last time I checked, guns were used heavily by the patriots to repel the British.

Just go away.

By Samus on 1/13/2014 1:39:51 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. The constitutions principles are sound, but adhering to them in the 21st century isn't entirely possible, especially the way this government functions and with the complexity of national security.

The problem isn't the NSA. They haven't broken any laws. The problem is laws were passed (in conflict with the constitution) to allow the NSA to operate the way it has.

In the end, the blame isn't on the NSA, it's on FISA courts and policy makers.

By MrBlastman on 1/13/2014 2:45:28 PM , Rating: 2
The blame always lies on the shoulders of a country's citizens. Any American working for the NSA, willfully violating our rights--that has any, even miniscule knowledge that what they are doing fundamentally disagrees with our Constitution... is guilty.

By Samus on 1/13/2014 6:00:18 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with that as well. Which is precisely why Edward Snowden should clearly be granted amnesty.

Unfortunately, I don't see this happening. Even if granted full amnesty and immunity from government prosecution, do you think he'd come back? As the NSA even said, he was too smart to be working as a contractor. They need "drones" not people who think. He's not dumb enough to come back. But I don't think he wants to be in Russia forever, either.

As soon as the USA isn't "after" him, he'll probably settle in Sweden or something.

By nafhan on 1/13/2014 12:22:40 PM , Rating: 2
The Canadian Charter of Rights could be way better (I'm not going to pretend to be up to that analysis), but it doesn't matter what the "rules" are if they get ignored.

In other words, the Constitution/Bill of Rights are not the problem here (neither are they perfect), and trying to change them would simply be a distraction from the real issue.

On a side note: the Canadian intelligence community was in on this, too. So, by your logic, the Charter of Rights needs revising.

By wordsworm on 1/14/2014 12:07:00 AM , Rating: 1
We don't have a patriot act. So, it will be interesting to see what happens here.

And, yes, our charter does need revising. It is getting a bit old.

By marvdmartian on 1/13/2014 2:47:53 PM , Rating: 2
Personally, I think tarring and feathering the politicians that screw up would be MUCH more fun! It worked for our forefathers, it can work equally well for us.

And hey, we could even hire some jobless folks to work as clean up crews, to help de-tar the sorry politicians after we're done with them.

Heck, in one fell swoop, I have come up with a terrific idea for a REAL reality TV show, AND created more "shovel ready" jobs than Obama ever dreamed of!

By M'n'M on 1/13/2014 10:04:54 PM , Rating: 2
but it's much better than your constitution in giving rights to people.

The US Constitution does not grant any rights to the people. It outlines certain, limited, powers granted to the Govt. The BoR mentions some rights that the people have and acknowledges others, not explicitly stated, exist. Perhaps a theoretical distinction but an important one.

Otherwise I wholly agree that it's us "people" who are at the root of this problem, not the NSA or their masters, our elected officials.

By MrBlastman on 1/13/2014 5:01:41 PM , Rating: 3
Your mentality is the precise reason our country is in shambles.

Snowden revealed NOTHING that any intelligent human being would not have assumed the first time they used a networked PC, digital device, and in the stone age.. telephone.

Wrong on all points, especially this one. What Snowden did was provide clarity. Before it was just speculation. Speculation that they might be doing this or that or nothing at all. Before he spoke, nobody spoke of the NSA. They were the men-in-black that went "Boo!" in the night.

After Snowden, we now know what we are up against.

All he has done is give aide to America's enemies. He is a traitor and a coward. '

The only enemies of America right now worth worrying about are ones that think and believe like yourself.

By flatrock on 1/14/2014 12:53:43 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is the supreme court's interpretation of the constitution is the one that matters, and in Smith v Maryland they pretty much decided we have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding metadata held by third parties.

The courts also appear to be satisfied with the NSA gathering large amounts of data and filtering that data with searches aimed at appropriate targets.

Other than those two things almost all of the violations that were disclosed were determined to be unintentional. The software gathered more information than they had intended, search criteria were mistyped, the judge's orders weren't clearly communicated to those writing the code.

This leaves LoveInt as the big disclosure of criminal activity by the NSA and it showed less than one violation per year over a period of over a decade.

So what you have are a number of things that possibly should be unconstitutional, but under current interpretations aren't. Some violations that were made in the process of good faith efforts to follow the law, which are things that should be addressed, but not prosecuted.

As for Snowden. He exposed a number of programs that though ruled legal and constitutional by the courts, deserve some public discussion over if they should be allowed. If that were all he did I think he would have a decent chance at amnesty. However, he leaked massive amounts of documents. Many of which serve little purpose beyond embarrassing the US and it's allies, or exposing specific details of intelligence methods that weren't necessary for bringing the issues public.

So while being a whistle blower is part of what Snowden did, and part of what he did can be seen as a genuine public service, he went well beyond that. He uses the NSA overreaching to justify his actions, but his actions go considerably beyond that justification.

He also betrayed the trust of a considerable number of his coworkers by getting them to foolishly give him their passwords. Those people most likely lost their security clearances over that and their jobs. He didn't just report what he felt were violations he did what appears to be quite a bit of intentional damage to his co-workers, the NSA, the US government, and their allies.

I can applaud some of his actions, but he still deserves to spend an awfully long time in jail for the rest of it.

Lip Service
By drlumen on 1/13/2014 11:53:03 AM , Rating: 2
Recommendations and guidelines that will have no teeth, that will go completely ignored and with only some secret court or panel or flunky to audit them.

Yeah, these will do a lot of good...

RE: Lip Service
By retrospooty on 1/13/2014 11:59:33 AM , Rating: 2
I am sure its purpose is to give the impression that they are doing something and limiting the spying. To that goal, it will do what it is set out to do, quiet the angry public with "fluff" and provide no real change.

By amanojaku on 1/13/2014 6:52:26 PM , Rating: 2
However, our review of the government’s claims about the role that NSA “bulk” surveillance of phone and email communications records has had in keeping the United States safe from terrorism shows that these claims are overblown and even misleading. An in-depth analysis of 225 individuals recruited by al-Qaeda or a like-minded group or inspired by al-Qaeda’s ideology, and charged in the United States with an act of terrorism since 9/11, demonstrates that traditional investigative methods, such as the use of informants, tips from local communities, and targeted intelligence operations, provided the initial impetus for investigations in the majority of cases, while the contribution of NSA’s bulk surveillance programs to these cases was minimal. Indeed, the controversial bulk collection of American telephone metadata, which includes the telephone numbers that originate and receive calls, as well as the time and date of those calls but not their content, under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, appears to have played an identifiable role in initiating, at most, 1.8 percent of these cases. NSA programs involving the surveillance of non-U.S. persons outside of the United States under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act played a role in 4.4 percent of the terrorism cases we examined, and NSA surveillance under an unidentified authority played a role in 1.3 percent of the cases we examined.

Surveillance of American phone metadata has had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism and only the most marginal of impacts on preventing terrorist-related activity, such as fundraising for a terrorist group.

By anactoraaron on 1/14/2014 1:43:19 AM , Rating: 2
Do NSA's Bulk Surveillance Programs Stop Terrorists?

No. But then again, they weren't/aren't supposed to. I don't believe that is why these programs were created. The "we gonna get them terrorists" is only the excuse released to the masses as to why these programs exist.

I shudder when trying to think of why these things exist...

TEST the NSA, for gods' sakes...
By croc on 1/13/2014 11:22:51 PM , Rating: 2
Every so often, give the NSA a practical test. Pass, they keep their budget, prove that their ways are useful, so don't have to change anything. Fail, they lose the lot.

The test? They have to stop someone coming to the US from somewhere overseas that is trying to bomb something in the US. They 'lose' when the subject spray paints the targeted site and sends the President the photo...

Oh.. Wait. They have already failed that test, haven't they? In Boston. Buggering subjects didn't quite stick to the program though, using real bombs and all.

By JediJeb on 1/14/2014 1:42:51 PM , Rating: 2
Kinda makes sense. If the NSA couldn't find and stop two crackpots like those in Boston, how could they be effective against some professionals?

What the public need...
By milktea on 1/13/2014 12:24:02 PM , Rating: 2
Any changes now made by the government will do the public no good.

What we need is a counter intelligence/spy agency setup that runs by the public, instead of the government. The sole purpose is to uncover the wrong doings of government agencies.

When our government 'checks & balances' no longer functions correctly, the public needs to take matters in their own hands. Separation of powers needs further separation.

RE: What the public need...
By flyingpants1 on 1/13/2014 12:27:06 PM , Rating: 1
Nope. The NSA rules.

By fic2 on 1/13/2014 1:40:38 PM , Rating: 2
NSA to Announce Obama Revisions Don't Apply to NSA Jan. 18

Hello seperation of powers?
By Ammohunt on 1/13/2014 1:42:26 PM , Rating: 2
Any meaningful change will need to come from congress as a whole via the legislative process not dictated by the executive branch this is offensive.

By Arsynic on 1/13/2014 3:43:29 PM , Rating: 2
Interested to hear him talk again as if he's some outsider looking in while these renegades in the government screw things up. Wouldn't be surprised since it's worked so well for him in the past.

Christie gets raped by the press because aides close a bridge while Obama gets a pass when "renegades" in the IRS bully Tea Party groups, a "video on YouTube" is responsible for 4 Americans dying in Benghazi, "renegades" again responsible for Fast & Furious, and now a whole "renegade" agency, the NSA, spying on people without his knowledge.

Yet on the other hand we're supposed to believe that he was key to killing Osama bin Laden, saving GM and even has a terrorist "kill list" where he tells the military who to kill with drones. Yet on this other stuff, he's completely oblivious, an outsider.

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