Skip to comments.Transparency Through a Glass, Darkly
Posted on 01/22/2014 7:55:26 AM PST by Kaslin
Last Friday, President Barack Obama delivered his long-awaited speech addressing recent revelations that the federal government, especially the National Security Agency (NSA), has been engaged in a massive program surveilling the communications of virtually every American who uses a cell phone or other internet-based device. Obama, who claims to head the most transparent presidency ever, spoke glowingly and eloquently how his Administration will move actively to rein in the domestic spying program and strike the proper balance with civil liberties; unfortunately, he did neither.
On cue, of course, the Washington Post -- one of Obamas most fervent enablers in the nations capital promptly labeled the speech productive, and pleaded for patience as the President now undertook the unsimple [sic] task of filling in the details. The Posts gobbledygook notwithstanding, given the lack of substance in the Presidents long-winded, 45-minute speech, there is little reason Americans should trust or expect him to fill in the blanks later. In fact, his recent appointment of long-time friend and notorious Big Brother-advocate Cass Sunstein to the White House NSA-review panel, further belies the Commander in Chiefs commitment to transparency.
Americans largely have lost patience with this Administrations pattern of obstructionism. According to a survey conducted immediately after Obamas speech by the respected PEW/USA Today, a clear majority of Americans -- 53 percent -- still oppose the NSAs daily collection of billions of phone calls, text messages and internet communications. The poll also suggested public opinion of the NSA remained unchanged after Obamas speech, which was full of typical post-9/11 rhetoric, but woefully short on specifics.
At the Guardian, Glen Greenwald -- the reporter who worked with Edward Snowden to shine the first light on the NSAs extra-legal activity -- called Obamas reforms little more than a PR attempt to mollify the public, and concluded they would change nothing. He drapes the banner of change over systematic status quo perpetuation, wrote Greenwald.
The fundamental problem is not the transparency of the federal governments spy programs, but their unconstitutionality. It cannot be put clearer than this: It is a violation of the Constitutions Fourth Amendment for the federal government to surreptitiously and without warrant or reasonable suspicion, gather data on the private communications of law-abiding American citizens based on nothing more than the governments assertion that such information might possibly help identify a suspected terrorist, or foil a possible plot at some point in the future.
The facts bear out the problem in the governments shaky justification for the massive data-basing of communications information. Despite Obamas repetitive, the-sky-is-falling rhetoric, a study of 225 terror cases since 9/11 shows the NSAs unconstitutional surveillance program has had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism, and that often the governments terrorism claims are overblown and misleading.
Moreover, the manner in which the government has exploited and abused the powers granted it in the USA PATRIOT Act -- such as vastly increasing the use of the so-called business record power to scoop up unlimited cell phone records -- is illustrative of the magnitude of the manner in which the government has been violating the privacy rights of the citizenry. Read carefully, Obamas words make clear he has no intention of reining in such abuses to any meaningful extent.
In fact, the Presidents speech may actually make matters worse. He purports to limit the governments massive surveillance efforts without really doing so; and thereby offers us a false sense of security -- providing a shield behind which the agencies and government officials involved (such as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who likely perjured himself in front of Congress while testifying about the NSA last year), can hide as Uncle Sam continues his march into the Surveillance State.
“providing a shield behind which the agencies and government officials involved (such as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who likely perjured himself in front of Congress while testifying about the NSA last year), can hide”
Clapper should be removed from his position and possibly prosecuted.
The new glass ceiling: your roof, through the lenses and sensors of Obama’s drones.
His word is useless on all issues.
He didn't offer me a false sense of security.
I don't believe a word he says.
Never have, never will.