Sunday, August 11, 2013

Obama On NSA Spying: "I Would Be Concerned Too, If I Weren't Inside The Government"


(ZeroHedge) - In what is as close to saying 'trust us, we're from the government,' as it gets; President Obama's traitor-identifying, blame-pointing, cover-your-assing speech on Friday has done nothing to end the supposedly "critical NSA counter-terrorism tool," from being used on American citizens. People of America should be relieved, as the President stated unequivocally that he is "comfortable that the program is not being abused." If only American citizens were able to see all the moving pieces, Obama implied, they would say "you know what? 

These [government] folks are following the law," but because the program remains classified, it remains impossible to know what is really going on. Reassuring rhetoric aside, as the AP notes, Obama offered these inspiring words regarding the ongoing concerns that law-abiding citizens may still have beyond his assurances: "I would be worried too, if I weren't inside the government." Another teleprompter-less glimpse of what he really thinks? Perhaps; but for now, the NSA will continue to sweep phone records of all Americans with the possibility of creating similar databases of credit card transactions, hotel records, and Internet searches.

Via AP,
President Barack Obama made it clear Friday he has no intention of stopping the daily collection of American phone records. And while he offered "appropriate reforms," he blamed government leaks for creating distrust of his domestic spying program.

...

"I am comfortable that the program currently is not being abused," Obama said. "I am comfortable that if the American people examined exactly what was taking place, how it was being used, what the safeguards were, that they would say, 'You know what? These folks are following the law.'"

Because the program remains classified, however, it's impossible for Americans to conduct that analysis beyond the assurances his administration has given.

...

"Understandably, people would be concerned," the president said. "I would be, too, if I weren't inside the government."

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Every day, the NSA sweeps up the phone records of all Americans. The program was authorized under the USA Patriot Act, which Congress hurriedly passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The NSA says phone records are the only information it collects in bulk under that law. But officials have left open the possibility that it could create similar databases of people's credit card transactions, hotel records and Internet searches.

Obama said he welcomed the debate, but his national security team also said it never intended to tell Americans about the highly classified phone program, which it falsely denied existed.

...

Obama is creating an outside advisory panel to review U.S. surveillance powers. He did not say who would be on that panel but over the past week, the president met secretly with technology business leaders, some of whom cooperated with the government surveillance and were unhappy to see their companies named in leaked government documents.

The government already has a panel, mandated by Congress, to conduct the same review. The U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has already held one hearing on the surveillance systems and constitutional concerns and its five members have been given classified briefings on NSA operations.

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As Obama spoke, the Justice Department released what Obama called "the legal rationale" for the surveillance. But the document was not a legal analysis and amounted primarily to a recitation of what the administration has already told Congress.

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The administration says it only looks at the phone records when investigating suspected terrorists. But testimony before Congress revealed how easy it is for Americans with no connection to terrorism to unwittingly have their calling patterns analyzed by the government.

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Even with the proposed changes, Obama will have to persuade Congress to reauthorize the Patriot Act in 2015.

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The White House chose to announce the changes and release the documents on a Friday afternoon in August when Congress was on vacation and much of Washington had cleared out.
- ZeroHedge: Obama On NSA Spying: "I Would Be Concerned Too, If I Weren't Inside The Government"


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