President Barack Obama gave a eulogy for the Fourth Amendment on Friday, and not even his fans are proclaiming victory. In this moment when Obama is actually doing one thing I agree with (talking to Iran), more and more people seem to be slowly, agonizingly slowly, finally, finally, finally, recognizing what a complete huckster he is when it comes to pretty speeches about his crimes.
Obama’s speech and new “policy directive” eliminate the Fourth Amendment. Massive bulk collection of everybody’s data will continue unconstitutionally, but Obama has expressed a certain vague desire to end it, sort of, except for the parts that are needed, but not to do so right away. The comparisons to the closure of the Guantanamo death camp began instantly.
Far from halting or apologizing for the abuses of the NSA, Obama defends them as necessitated by the danger of a new 911. While drones over Yemen and troops in Afghanistan and “special” forces in three-quarters of the world are widely understood to endanger us, and while alternatives that upheld the rule of law and made us safer would not require secrecy or human rights violations, Obama wants to continue the counterproductive and immoral militarism while holding off all blowback through the omniscience of Big Brother.
However, Obama’s own panel and every other panel that has looked into it found zero evidence that the new abusive NSA programs have prevented any violent attacks. And it is well-documented that (even given the disastrous policies that produced 911) the attacks of that day could have been stopped at the last minute by sharing existing data or responding to urgent memos to the president with any sort of serious effort.
Obama has not proposed to end abuses. He’s proposed to appoint two new bureaucrats plus John Podesta. Out of this speech we get reviews of policies, a commitment to tell the Director of National Intelligence to read court rulings that impact the crimes and abuses he’s engaged in, and a promise that the “Intelligence Community” will inspect itself. (Congress, the courts, and the people don’t come up in this list of reforms.) Usually this sort of imperial-presidential fluff wins praise from Obama’s followers. This time, I’m not hearing it.
True, after EFF created a great pre-speech scorecard, when Obama scored a big fat zero, EFF said it was encouraged that he might score a point some day. But they didn’t sound impassioned about their encouragement.
Obama’s promises not to abuse unchecked secret powers (and implied promise that none of his successors or subordinates will abuse them either) is not credible, or acceptable, while it just might be impeachable. We’re talking here about the same government that listens in on soldiers’ phone sex, Congress members’ daily lives, and everything it can get its hands on related to the actual, rather than rhetorical, promotion of liberty, justice, or peace. A report today quotes various members of the government with security clearance who want to murder Edward Snowden. We’re supposed to just trust them with the right to our persons, houses, papers, and effects without probably cause or warrant? Are we also to trust the corporations they ask to do their dirty work, should the theoretical future reform of this outrage involve paying corporations to own our info?
Obama claims the “debate” — in which no debate opponent was given a minute at the microphone — is valuable. But the whistleblowers who create such debates “endanger” us, Obama says. This he claims without evidence.
If the debate was so useful, why not give the man who made you hold it with yourself his passport back?
Obama began Friday’s speech with a Sarah Palinesque bit of Paul Revere history. Revere is now an honorary NSA spy. In reality, the British would have hit Revere with a hellfire missile if Obama had been their king. It all depends on which side of a war you imagine someone to be on, and on whether you imagine war itself is an acceptable form of human behavior at this late date. Without the endless war on the world, the need for secrecy would go away, and with it the powers that secrecy bestows, and with them the arrogant speeches by rulers who clearly hold us all in contempt.
Resisters of royalty came up with a cure back in Paul Revere’s day. They called it impeachment. Of course it would be highly inappropriate to use. It might get in the way of the Fight for Freedom.
David Swanson‘s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
“I Think It’s Embarrassing” Julian Assange Responds To Obama’s Big NSA Reforms Speech
FederalJacktube6 on Jan 17, 2014
January 17, 2014 CNN
‘Guarantees that Obama gave are worthless’
RT on Jan 17, 2014
President Obama has outlined reforms of America’s controversial surveillance tactics – which had ensnared millions of people’s phone calls, texts and emails around the globe. After praising the NSA and its importance to security, he admitted it made mistakes in its collection of private data. Glen Moody is a technology writer from London joins RT to talk more on this.
Glenn Greenwald “The NSA Is A System Of Suspicionless Spying”
Glenn Greenwald on Jan 17, 2014
January 17, 2014 MSNBC News
Obama NSA Reforms Are “A Bouquet of Roses” to the Intelligence Agencies
TheRealNews on Jan 17, 2014
Michael Ratner: By portraying NSA surveillance as “patriotic,” President Obama ignores the violations of Americans’ constitutional rights.
Our Best Chance Yet at Reining in Dragnet NSA Surveillance
Jan. 17, 2014
Over the past six months, each week has brought us new information about how the NSA’s massive surveillance powers are out of control.
And the President has finally noticed that the American people are opposed to this blatant abuse of power by our nation’s intelligence agency. But cosmetic changes to the surveillance machine won’t restore our right to privacy.
Congress has the power to rein in this massive domestic surveillance program, and now we have the momentum we’ve been waiting for. In the House and Senate, Representative Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Senator Leahy (D-VT) just introduced a bi-partisan bill—the USA FREEDOM Act—that would go a long way to rolling back the government’s dragnet surveillance program.
But if this bill is going to make it through the committees for a vote on the floor, Congress needs to hear loud and clear that we want them to pass it NOW. If enough of us push our members of Congress to support this bill, we can make sure that it doesn’t get watered-down before it comes up for a vote.
Let’s win this fight. Contact your representatives now.
Updated: Jan. 18, 2014
NSA Whistleblowers Point To Obama’s Omissions in NSA Speech
TheRealNews on Jan 18, 2014
Several former NSA employees criticize Obama’s speech and remain uncertain about the possibility of real reform without independent verification.
Updated: Jan. 20, 2014
David Swanson exclusive interview on President Obama’s NSA speech
RTQuestionMore on Jan 17, 2014
Mr. Swanson is a U.S. author, blogger, and activist. He is the author of “War Is A Lie” and “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.”