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On Friday, president Obama announced a plan to reform NSA surveillance.
Don't expect much of anything to come out of it. It's a dog and pony show designed to make people feel better as opposed to any solid measures as to how much data government collects on everyone.
Here are excerpts from the above article with my comments interspersed.
Independent: President Obama told a packed room of journalists at the White House Friday afternoon that he will work to reform Section 215 of the Patriot Act - the provision which currently allows the federal government’s intelligence agencies to collect domestic phone data.
The President also said that he will work to increase oversight with regards to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court - the secretive judicial body that authorizes the government to collect data on communications coming in and out of the United States.
Obama said the reform will be accompanied with the roll-out of a new website which will provide Americans and people around the world the ability to learn more about the surveillance programs.
Obama: "The US will “make public as much information about these programs as possible.”
Mish: Expect to discover that the only thing "possible" is a bunch of government propaganda designed to purposely mislead the public about the extent of government data gathering activities.
Independent: Obama said he is forming an outside advisory panel to review the surveillance programs, assigning a privacy officer at the National Security Agency and creating an independent attorney to challenge the government’s spy policies in court.
Mish: The NSA advisory panel will have as much say as an advisory panel of ants at an anteater convention.
Obama: "No, I don’t think Mr. Snowden was a patriot,” Obama said. “I called for a thorough review of our surveillance operations before Mr. Snowden made these leaks. My preference, and I think the American people’s preference, would have been for a lawful, orderly examination of these laws. A thoughtful, fact-based debate that would then lead us to a better place."
Mish: Snowden is a hero.
Obama: "So the fact is that Mr. Snowden has been charged with three felonies,” added Obama. “If in fact he believes that what he did was right, then like every American citizen he can come here, appear before a court with a lawyer and make his case. If the concern was that somehow this was the only way to get this information out to the public, I signed an executive order well before Mr. Snowden leaked this information that provided whistleblower protection to the intelligence community for the first time. So there were other avenues available for someone whose conscious was stirred."
Mish: There were no other avenues that would have done anything about the blatantly illegal data gathering other than making everything public.
Obama: "If you are outside of the intelligence community, if you are the ordinary person, and you start seeing a bunch of headlines saying, ‘US, Big Brother looking down on you, collecting telephone records, etc.,’ well, understandably people would be concerned. I would be too if I wasn’t inside the government. It's not enough for me to have confidence in these programs. The American people have to have confidence in them as well."
Mish: Obama has confidence in something blatantly illegal, and he has the gall to insist you should have equal confidence.
Obama: "The question is: How do I make the American people more comfortable?”
Mish: The answer is: Stop the spying on US citizens and stop the spying on our allies as well.
Obama: "I am comfortable that the program is currently not being abused"
Mish: Even if one foolishly believes spying on US citizens is constitutional, Snowden proved without a doubt the program was repeatedly and purposely abused. And that makes the president a blatant liar.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock