President Barack Obama assured the American people yesterday that the NSA warrantless surveillance programs are entirely “transparent.” He then promised to extradite and prosecute the man who told the public about it. None of that causes any pause for the White House or its supporters. It makes perfect sense. Indeed, it helps explain how Obama promised the “most transparent” Administration in history and proceeded to expand a secret security state. It turns out that “transparent” simply means something different with Obama, just as the noun “war” is left to his definition. It turns out that transparent means that the government can see it — and see us. Total transparency in our new fishbowl society.
Obama’s interview with Charlie Rose is indicative of how disengenuous this discussion has become. Democratic members have joined Obama in carefully parsing language to avoid the obvious rollback on privacy. They have focused on the question of whether the government is “reading” the content of emails and calls as opposed to gathering a wide array of information on who you are calling, how long, and from where. They ignore the obvious danger in such databanks in giving the government the ability to follow citizens in realtime. It is part of the effort, discussed earlier in columns, to redefine privacy in a new surveillance friendly image. After doublethinking privacy, Obama has moved on to doublethinking transparency. It is no easy task, particularly to convince a free people:
to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself.
Despite the fact that civil libertarians have scoffed at the distinction, Obama continues to pretend that the only danger is actually reading such calls and emails.
To add to the obvious evasion, Obama continues to refer to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), or secret court, as if it were a real court or had some meaningful powers of review. Obama told Rose, “That’s why we set up the FISA court.” Of course, he did not set up the FISA court which has been around for decades and widely ridiculed as an absurd rubberstamp for the intelligence agency. Only a couple applications have been denied in the history of that “court.” When I had occasion to got into the court as a young intern with NSA, it set in place a lifelong opposition to it as an insult to the very concept of legal process. For Obama to cite this “court” as the guarantee of transparency is nothing short of insulting. This is the court that classifies (at the demand of Obama’s Administration) the very legal interpretations used to justify massive warrantless searches of citizens.
Obama then returned to the same evasive approach to the programs: “We’re going to have to find ways where the public has an assurance that there are checks and balances in place … that their phone calls aren’t being listened into; their text messages aren’t being monitored, their emails are not being read by some big brother somewhere.” First, Obama is saying that he will ask a rubber-stamp court to read any communications as if that is an assurance of any kind. Second, he is again falling to even acknowledge the wide array of information that they are collecting without such an order. Third, we do not have to fear of “some big brother somewhere.” We know where to find big brother. He is the one assuring us that he has a secret court to guarantee transparency.
In the meantime, Obama wants to put the man in jail for life so told the public about the secret program. That is not part of the new transparency or any part of the new privacy of the Obama era.
This type of logic was explained before as Orwell “doublethink”:
The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them… To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.
Here is the full interview and is guaranteed to make you stop worrying about the police state:
116 thoughts on “Doublethinking Transparency: Obama Proclaims Secret NSA Program Entirely “Transparent” To A Secret Court”
“Snowden is not a dumb kid. I know he knows the score. That’s why I think he’s part of an op and is not just concerned about US citizen’s privacy issues.” (sonoft)
Certainly not outside the realm of possibility especially considering the PRC but … try this on for size … internal power play. 😉
Stating a fact about past attempts at suits against the Patriot Act in part or in full is not a conspiracy theory.
“I agree with you but sometimes we have to keep the status quo even if it’s ugly and it hurts. Prosecuting Dubya would have hurt US – IMO that is. Just lets let History punish him.”
The “status quo” is not worth maintaining if it means ignoring the rule of law and tacitly endorsing a double standard for the application of laws when a politician is involved. A two-tier legal system is a recipe for eventual disaster. Not all things that are difficult harm and not every short term harm equates to a long term harm. Prosecuting Bush and Cheney would have been uncomfortable, but in the long run, it would have done more to help both the integrity of the courts and the rest of the Federal government and improve our international standing after the blatant crimes of that administration to have been well worth the discomfort or any short term harm.
Blouise – As much as I hate to spoil an op in progress… I have the stinking suspicion that this whole Snowden thing is just one of those good ol’ disinfo ops. I mean Jon Brennan are really from the same old school thinking. We went to different NJ schools together just like Bruce Wyllys (LOL) [true story though]
What if this whole thing was cooked up by his new guy in DO “Frankie” to get the PRC all hot and bothered desiring to get Snowden for interrogation in Beijing. I mean we are having so much trouble from them lately i.e. cyber threats, nuclear submarine action off our coasts, anti-satellite technology, Mr. Obama having to send a Fleet over there recently, etc.
I mean a 29-year old wet behind the ears spook? How the hell can he even know what the word “disgruntled” means yet? Fresh out of The Farm and Fort Meade and he’s ready to kick it to the curb now? Violating his NDA is super-duper major! That is a federal crime with a life sentence attached. If it was during war time much worse.
Most spooks go on to write books or do Hollywood movies. Others just get burned and go straight to jail for writing un-vetted books (i.e. Andrew Warren alleged CIA rapist). I wonder why JT never offered to help Andrew. He was clearly setup by DCI Joe Camel.
Snowden is not a dumb kid. I know he knows the score. That’s why I think he’s part of an op and is not just concerned about US citizen’s privacy issues. President Xi Jinping is probably going: “OK rets’ go over dis’ one mo’ time… Snowden is concerned wit’ citizen p-r-i-v-a-c-y? What is dat’ exactly. Never heard of it!” LOL
So true Baby girl!
Yes Abdulrahman al-Awlaki’s accidental death by collateral damage was unfortunate. He was not targeted as many are falsely saying. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The CIA was targeting Ibrahim al-Banna (a bonafide terrorist). Abdulrahman had went out into the desert to find his dad so they could go to a BBQ. However dad was sitting in a cafe back in town not watching his minor son. Abdul inadvertently walked into a Hellfire kill-zone at the wrong time. Mr. Obama was NOT targeting any Americans to kill. Robert Gibbs said a lot more than what you are saying. Listen to this Youtube at time-stamp 2:20 tinyurl.com/9eaaavy
Also let’s call a spade a spade… The Predator Drone package was invented by DCI John O. Brennan when he was a station chief in Saudi Arabia under GWB administration. Since it was an effective idea for surgical strikes without military asset damage (pilots sit in Nevada) the idea was continued. Mr. Obama liked John’s approach and kept it despite it’s collateral damage issues. Abdulrahman’s father is a al-Queada group leader. He really should not have let his son go walk-about in a dangerous area like Yemen. The boy was only 16 years old. I guess you think the pilot in Nevada is supposed to distinguish a teenage boy from all of the other players that he CIA agent on the ground identified as a “total package”? Blame John not Barrack. John said it was a “slam dunk” what’s Barrack supposed to do? Doubt John’s assessment of low collateral damages? It’s the big city now Mike. Like POTUS HWBush said its a NEW WORLD ORDER now. Things are for real today. The game is played for keeps now.
Furthermore Mike, I did say all Americans deserve due process. But when you go all terrorist on US and start attacking fellow Americans, and the LEO’s and DoJ have expended all legal actions to capture you and render you for due process… well then a different set of rules have to apply. We can’t just let you go on attacking USA with impunity. What happens when you are cornered by FBI or other LEO SWAT team and you open fire on them? That will be an American criminal killed WITHOUT any due process. Happens all the time. Mr. Obama is not going to let ANYONE just terrorize Americans on his watch if he can help it.
Please leave the conspiracy theories to me! Remember I’m king tin-hat! (LOL)
I agree with you but sometimes we have to keep the status quo even if it’s ugly and it hurts. Prosecuting Dubya would have hurt US – IMO that is. Just lets let History punish him. But Cheney is another kettle of fish. I can’t stand that rat-b*stard as he is so arrogant and walks away with impunity. I think Mr. Obama should have done something to at least make his legacy ruined for life. Maybe a monument to the worst leaders on Earth or something. Mr. Obama has to do his job. Prosecuting these tyrants would have wasted more US tax payers dollars when it is needed to combat terrorism against USA (IMHO that is).
President James Madison? Why what did he do to bag another POTUS? His 2 VPOTUS’ died in office but he had nothing to do with it.
Dredd – when reading the CAUSES OF ACTION section of the ACLU case, one thought comes to mind: If you don’t own the phone systems or Internet and are only a renter of pieces of the same, how can you make any constitutional claims of violating privacy or search & seizure? It is that electronic provider corporation’s property and your electronic media (voice, data, & text) is essentially theirs not yours. So if the company is willing to give into government pressure, how come the ACLU is making a case for the US citizens and not the companies who actually own everything involved here? You can’t call your voice and Internet stuff IP (Intellectual Property) or even Copyrighted material. It’s meta-data owned by AT&T, Verizon, etc. If everyone is so damned paranoid about it start encrypting with PGP or something. There is even voice-PGP. Of course that will make you even more of a target for the NSA. Then it will be a full court press to decrypt your traffic. Hello FBI guys at the door…
Look BD here it is in a nutshell… Yes there is a German donut called a BERLINER. When Jack used the word EINE and BERLINER vs just Berlin it looked wrong to some Germans as that is never used in proper German in that kind of sentence. However, it is the dialect of some nothern (et al) Germans to use both. He was an outsider (a Yank) so it was proper to say EINE BERLINER.
Yeah you’re right… I almost took a job doing this. But I realized that I would see more psychopath-esque and sociopath-esque personalities then I already have to deal with on a daily basis. My old boss used to say: “Drain the swamp before the ‘gators are up to yer’ arse…” Good advice. Do you know how hard it is to work with a psychopathic personality? It’s like being an ant under a magnifying glass in the sun. They used to pull wings off of flies as children. Look up the DSM-IV on this and try to visualize so-called “normal” fellow employees acting like this. I now know what Snowden must have gone through. i.e. false sense of entitlement?
I’ll bet PRISM will uncover them… and soon… LOL
I don’t think you understand how the system PROBABLY works. I’m no expert but I think it scoops up tons of meta-data of EVERYONE – yes. I mean AMDOCS does it everyday in Washington DC and no one is complaining about them? Why? Because they are Israelis?
Anyway, the meta-data I think is compared to the watch-list meta-data. If you (caller/callee) or the other party is on said list you are flagged for audio (or sometimes video webcam) capture. The same goes for texting, Internet surfing, etc. It all happens in a split-second. So Americans have nothing to worry about unless someone in the communications transaction is on the secret watch-list. I believe the watch-list database is feed by all the alphabet soup and even maybe even LEO. I think it centralized by DHS. I heard there is so many different configurations of this that it staggers the mind how much time, money, and effort was put into this by NSA. But it’s NOT new. It’s been around long before Mr. Obama was even born. Originally used it to spy on the Russians.
Just reading that comment took my breath away in its broadness of scope. Give me some time to think about it before I comment. 🙂
Introducing my new watchwords: “If the Bill of Rights is our blueprint for government, Washington is filled to the brim with anti-government extremists.”
Well, if Obama says no one ever reads our emails or listens in on our phone conversations without a warrant, we should believe him because Obama has never lied to us or tried to deceive us or mislead us. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.
Besides, even if he’s lying to us about this, he’s doing it FOR OUR OWN GOOD. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.
your argument is actually even stronger:
10 doublings is 1024 times the computing power
I’ve been saying/asking the same thing for almost two weeks in various settings… A Foreigner in his homeland. Legal aliens. Like an Englishman in
1, June 18, 2013 at 8:00 pm
If they are going after the bad guys, then why are they catching all your digital data as IF you’re the hot lead to that bad guy? I mean, IF it’s about catching the bad guy. Do YOU associate with bad guys to give them PROBABLE CAUSE to watch your every digital move? NO? Then why are they tracking YOU!
Don’t excuse the Admin. Don’t excuse the wide spread scoop of data…
… Excuse why they are tracking YOU!
Yeah … all the pros have gone private in order to make some bucks and like Tony C wrote a few days ago, how much money is spent isn’t the issue … results are what count in that game.
So, let’s ask Booz Allen, supposedly one of the best, about results. I mean, they have a new contract being prepared wherein they provide intelligence analysis services to the Defense Department. Under the deal, Booz Allen employees are being assigned to help military and national security policy makers. Just imagine the kind of access those private employees have to data collected by NSA. In fact, in 2011 wasn’t there some kind of leak out of Booz Allen wherein files under their control were acquired by the online activist group Anonymous? And then along came Snowden.
BTW …even the process of granting security clearances is often handled by contractors, allowing companies to grant government security clearances to private sector employees. (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/10/us/booz-allen-grew-rich-on-government-contracts.html?_r=0)
So, all those pros gone private to make some bucks … a little moonlighting on the side … hey, who’s going to complain … right? Probably some foreigner … but then we’re all foreigners now in our own country.
I bet you a quarter there’s some poor, schmuck, inside trader out there already paying hush money.
Jack Kennedy and the “Berliner” speech. I said in a previous comment that Kennedy did not quite state it right and his version if Ich Bin Ein Berliner was suggesting that he was a donut and not a citizen of Berlin. So, someone above said that he said it right and I looked it up on Wikipedia. Here is their exposition on it:
Jelly doughnut misconception
A Berliner and a half
There is a misconception that Kennedy made a risible error by saying Ich bin ein Berliner (emphasis added): the claim is made that Kennedy referred to himself not as a “citizen of Berlin” but as a “jelly doughnut”, known in Berlin as a “Pfannkuchen” but as “Berliner”  in the north and west and as “Krapfen” in the south of Germany and in Austria. Kennedy should, supposedly, have said Ich bin Berliner to mean “I am a person from Berlin”, and so adding the indefinite article ein to his statement implied he was a non-human Berliner, thus, “I am a jelly doughnut”. However, while the indefinite article ein is omitted when speaking of an individual’s profession or residence, it is still necessary when speaking in a figurative sense as Kennedy did. Since the President was not literally from Berlin but only declaring his solidarity with its citizens, “Ich bin ein Berliner” was correct.
– end.of wiki.
In previous comments on the Prism issue I have been quite a tough dog on President Obama. I watched his interview with Charlie Rose tonight on television and I am going to with hold mean comments until I dig deeper with my paws into this issue. In the interview with Charlie Rose he was quite compelling and he states that no mail was read, no emails read, no phone calls heard or recorded, without a warrant from a judge. I am going to dig deeper.
ap, Rachel Maddow spoke well of him tonight. He was 33.
What if we added a few more million tons of hay to the stack? All we need to do is create a network of thousands of like minded dissidents who send hundreds of gibberish emails, phone calls etc. using trigger words and phrases like bomb, bombing ], terrorists etc., in essence bury the gov’t in garbage messages. Of course the gov’t would probably charge us with some BS and then toss us in jail but hey if they are messing with us we should be able to mess with them.
Why Democrats Love To Spy On Americans
Besides Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, most Democrats abandoned their civil liberty positions during the age of Obama. With a new leak investigation looming, the Democrat leadership are now being forced to confront all the secrets they’ve tried to hide.
posted on June 7, 2013 at 12:10pm EDT
by Michael Hastings, BuzzFeed Staff
For most bigwig Democrats in Washington, D.C., the last 48 hours has delivered news of the worst kind — a flood of new information that has washed away any lingering doubts about where President Obama and his party stand on civil liberties, full stop.
Glenn Greenwald’s exposure of the NSA’s massive domestic spy program has revealed the entire caste of current Democratic leaders as a gang of civil liberty opportunists, whose true passion, it seems, was in trolling George W. Bush for eight years on matters of national security.
“Everyone should just calm down,” Senator Harry Reid said yesterday, inhaling slowly.
That’s right: don’t panic.
The very topic of Democratic two-facedness on civil liberties is one of the most important issues that Greenwald has covered. Many of those Dems — including the sitting President Barack Obama, Senator Carl Levin, and Sec. State John Kerry — have now become the stewards and enhancers of programs that appear to dwarf any of the spying scandals that broke during the Bush years, the very same scandals they used as wedge issues to win elections in the Congressional elections 2006 and the presidential primary of 2007-2008.
Recall what Senator Levin told CNN in 2005, demanding to “urgently hold an inquiry” into what was supposedly President Bush’s domestic wiretap program.
Levin continued, at length: “It means that there’s some growing concern on Capitol Hill about a program which seems to be so totally unauthorized and unexplained…The president wraps himself in the law, saying that it is totally legal, but he doesn’t give what the legal basis is for this. He avoided using the law, which we provided to the president, where even when there is an emergency and there’s a need for urgent action can first tap the wire and then go to a court.”
There are two notable exception to this rule are Senator Ron Wyden, from Oregon, and Sen. Mark Udall from Colorado, who had seemed to be fighting a largely lonely, frustrating battle against Obama’s national security state.
As Mark Udall told the Denver Post yesterday: “[I] did everything short of leaking classified information” to stop it.
His ally in Oregon, Ron Wyden, was one of the first to seize on the Guardian’s news break: “I will tell you from a policy standpoint, when a law-abiding citizen makes a call, they expect that who they call, when they call and where they call from will be kept private,” Wyden said to Politico, noting “there’s going to be a big debate about this.” The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, admitted he’d mislead Senator Wyden at a hearing earlier this year, revising his statement yesterday to state that the NSA didn’t do “voyerustic” surveillance.
The state of affairs, in other words, is so grave that two sitting Senators went as close as they could to violating their unconstitutional security oaths in order to warn the country of information that otherwise would not have been declassified until April of 2038, according to the Verizon court order obtained by Greenwald.
Now, we’re about to see if the Obama administration’s version of the national security state will begin to eat itself.
Unsurprisingly, the White House has dug in, calling their North Korea-esque tools “essential” to stop terrorism, and loathe to give up the political edge they’ve seized for Democrats on national security issues under Obama’s leadership. The AP spying scandal — which the administration attempted to downplay at the time, even appointing Eric Holder to lead his own investigation into himself —was one of the unexpected consequences of one of two leak investigations that Obama ordered during the 2012 campaign.
It’s unclear where a possible third leak investigation would lead. However, judging by the DOJ’s and FBI’s recent history, it would seem that any new leak case would involve obtaining the phone records of reporters at the Guardian, the Washington Post, employees at various agencies who would have had access to the leaked material, as well as politicians and staffers in Congress—records, we now can safely posit, they already have unchecked and full access to.
In short: any so-called credible DOJ/FBI leak investigation, by its very nature, would have to involve the Obama administration invasively using the very surveillance and data techniques it is attempting to hide in order to snoop on a few Democratic Senators and more media outlets, including one based overseas.
Outside of Washington, D.C., the frustration that Wyden and Udall have felt has been exponentially magnified. Transparency supporters, whistleblowers, and investigative reporters, especially those writers who have aggressively pursued the connections between the corporate defense industry and federal and local authorities involved in domestic surveillance, have been viciously attacked by the Obama administration and its allies in the FBI and DOJ.
Jacob Appplebaum, a transparency activist and computer savant, has been repeatedly harassed at American borders, having his laptop seized. Barrett Brown, another investigative journalist who has written for Vanity Fair, among others publications, exposed the connections between the private contracting firm HB Gary (a government contracting firm that, incidentally, proposed a plan to spy on and ruin the reputation of the Guardian’s Greenwald) and who is currently sitting in a Texas prison on trumped up FBI charges regarding his legitimate reportorial inquiry into the political collective known sometimes as Anonymous.
That’s not to mention former NSA official Thomas Drake (the Feds tried to destroys his life because he blew the whistle ); Fox News reporter James Rosen (named a “co-conspirator” by Holder’s DOJ); John Kirakou, formerly in the CIA, who raised concerns about the agency’s torture program, is also in prison for leaking “harmful” (read: embarrassing) classified info; and of course Wikileaks (under U.S. financial embargo); WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (locked up in Ecuador’s London embassy) and, of course, Bradley Manning, the young, idealistic, soldier who provided the public with perhaps the most critical trove of government documents ever released.
The attitude the Obama administration has toward Manning is revealing. What do they think of him? “F*ck Bradely Manning,” as one White House official put it to me last year during the campaign.
Screw Manning? Lol, screw us.
Perhaps more information will soon be forthcoming.
RIP, Michael Hastings. (His last piece, written for Buzz Feed.)
What Gene said about the ACLU case and standing.
Gene H. 1, June 18, 2013 at 10:40 pm
“Does SCOTUS inaction mean that they don’t agree with your constitution argument about the PA?”
No. It means that every time someone has challenged it, they have been denied standing. There is more than one way to stifle dissent.
Maybe that bogus standing issue will pass away in the ACLU case because they clearly have standing (ACLU vs. Clapper).
Michael Hastings, ‘Rolling Stone’ Contributor, Dead at 33
The bold journalist died in a car accident in Los Angeles
By Tim Dickinson
June 18, 2013 7:15 PM ET
Michael Hastings, the fearless journalist whose reporting brought down the career of General Stanley McChrystal, has died in a car accident in Los Angeles, Rolling Stone has learned. He was 33.
Hastings’ unvarnished 2010 profile of McChrystal in the pages of Rolling Stone, “The Runaway General,” captured the then-supreme commander of the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan openly mocking his civilian commanders in the White House. The maelstrom sparked by its publication concluded with President Obama recalling McChrystal to Washington and the general resigning his post. “The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be met by – set by a commanding general,” Obama said, announcing McChrystal’s departure. “It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system.”
Hastings’ hallmark as reporter was his refusal to cozy up to power. While other embedded reporters were charmed by McChrystal’s bad-boy bravado and might have excused his insubordination as a joke, Hastings was determined to expose the recklessness of a man leading what Hastings believed to be a reckless war. “Runaway General” was a finalist for a National Magazine Award, won the 2010 Polk award for magazine reporting, and was the basis for Hastings’ book, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan.
Michael Hastings Dead: Reporter, Author Dies In Car Crash At Age 33
The Huffington Post | By Braden Goyette
Posted: 06/18/2013 7:11 pm EDT | Updated: 06/18/2013 9:37 pm EDT
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