Obama Declares “Reforms” While Dismissing Influence Of Snowden on NSA

President_Barack_ObamaNSA logo smallI just listened to the NSA speech by President Obama and as expected there is precious little in terms of real change. For civil libertarians, it is a nothing burger served hot and with a sympathetic smile. It is much of the same. Another review board composed of government officials. Another promise for the Executive Branch to review itself. I am in Salt Lake City today on the Sister Wives case, but I am struck by the absence of civil libertarians on the coverage by the networks. I will have to run to court but I was underwhelmed. It seemed like another attempt to reinvent privacy in a new surveillance friendly image.

As I tweeted earlier, it was rather unpersuasive to hear Obama say that he was always intended to force reforms and that Snowden was merely a coincidence. If you step back, you will note that the programs will continue and the intelligence community will retain its authority with little outside independent limits. The speech had the feel of a car salesman coming back from “speaking with the manager” and saying that he is able to offer a deal that no one likes but he wants to offer because he likes the customer. Of course, this “deal” does not require our consent.

In the end, the changes are either undefined (like the privacy advocates) or basically “trust us were your government” (including a reminder that NSA people are your neighbors).

The Paul Revere reference at the beginning seemed to set the less than honest approach of the speech. Revere and the Sons of Liberty were watching public movement of an enemy at war. Likewise, Obama again references “court” review of the metadata as if it were a true court applying real probable cause. FISC has been widely ridiculed as a rubber-stamp for the government. The Court is given a standard that is hard for the government not to satisfy with even the most casual filings.

In the end, it was in my view more spin than substance from the President.

What did you think?

98 thoughts on “Obama Declares “Reforms” While Dismissing Influence Of Snowden on NSA”

  1. (NaturalNews) The one man who may be responsible for more food related illnesses and deaths than anyone in history, Michael R. Taylor, has just been promoted from US Food Safety Czar to Senior Advisor to the Commissioner of the FDA, a position which would enable the giant biotech company Monsanto to silently and legally feed cancer causing vegetables to every living person who is not 100% strictly organic.


    Michael R. Taylor is the Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

  2. http://rt.com/usa/monsanto-patents-sue-farmers-547/

    Supreme Court hands Monsanto victory over farmers on GMO seed patents, ability to sue

    The US Supreme Court upheld biotech giant Monsanto’s claims on genetically-engineered seed patents and the company’s ability to sue farmers whose fields are inadvertently contaminated with Monsanto materials.

  3. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_20060.cfm

    Obama Appoints Monsanto Man as FDA Food Safety Czar

    New FDA deputy to lead food-safety mandate
    By Lyndsey Layton
    Washington Post, January 14, 2010
    Straight to the Source

    A year ago, Michael Taylor was sitting in his office at George Washington University, considering a basic mission of the federal government: making sure food is safe. He’d devoted his career to food safety, working in and out of government, and he was finally in academia where he could think deeply about what was wrong and how to fix it.

    And then the call came.

    The Obama administration wanted Taylor to implement the solutions he had been designing. A string of food poisoning outbreaks nationally had sickened thousands and killed dozens. Both parties in Congress were calling for tough new laws. The president promised the public that he would strengthen food safety.

    In July, Taylor became an adviser to Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Wednesday he was named deputy commissioner for foods, a new position that elevates food in an agency long criticized for placing greater emphasis on drugs and medical devices.

    Congress is moving ahead with legislation to grant vast new authority to the FDA to ensure food safety — the House passed a bill last year and the Senate is expected to take up its version soon — and Taylor will be responsible for implementing new laws aimed at preventing outbreaks instead of merely reacting after they occur.

    “We are at an historic tipping point — a moment when the forces have aligned like never before; the president, Congress, industry and the public have stepped up their support for our mission,” Taylor told a gathering of FDA staff members last month.

    Taylor is a familiar figure at the FDA. He began his career as a staff attorney at the agency in 1976. Then he worked for a decade at King & Spaulding, which represented Monsanto Corp., the agribusiness giant that developed genetically engineered corn, soybeans and bovine growth hormone. ad_icon

    He returned to the FDA in 1991 as deputy commissioner for policy and pushed through requirements that producers of seafood and juices adopt measures to prevent bacterial contamination. During the same period, the FDA approved Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone, and Taylor was partly responsible for a controversial policy that said milk from BGH-treated cows did not have to be labeled as such.

    >>> Read the Full Article

  4. I am wondering how exactly consiglieri39 has been able to maintain any trust in the US govt or make jokes about people wearing tinfoil hats in light of what we are learning about our own military industrial complex and government.

    Most of all, I wonder how they can even see what someone else is wearing when they clearly have their own head firmly implanted in the ground.

  5. I READ every post here and no one has commented about obama aka barry sotero and the ndaa executive bill nor the tpp trade act.

      1. “We’re not wearing our tinfoil hats, today, Robin.”

        And why should we? By now it should be clear NSA likely inserted technology to by pass them and render their protection ineffective.

        The good news is we many never have to vote again – NSA already knows how we feel on every issue.

  6. Even now he says, with a straight face no less, that he welcomes this debate, he wants this debate, but without declassifying this stuff, there would be no way to have one in the first place. And in the same breath, he says Snowden’s actions were coincidental, that they didn’t help bring this debate about. I agree with the lying sack comment.

  7. It’s almost like somebody smacked Obama upside the head in early 2008 and said hey, this is how it’s gonna be, so get used to it. The only other alternative is that he’s a sociopathic master manipulator — hence my comment that maybe he’s not actually running the country.

  8. “Obama’s NSA ‘reforms’ are little more than a PR attempt to mollify the public”

    “Obama is draping the banner of change over the NSA status quo. Bulk surveillance that caused such outrage will remain in place”

    by Glenn Greenwald
    The Guardian, Friday 17 January 2014 14.23 EST



    Ultimately, the radical essence of the NSA – a system of suspicion-less spying aimed at hundreds of millions of people in the US and around the world – will fully endure even if all of Obama’s proposals are adopted. That’s because Obama never hid the real purpose of this process. It is, he and his officials repeatedly acknowledged, “to restore public confidence” in the NSA. In other words, the goal isn’t to truly reform the agency; it is deceive people into believing it has been so that they no longer fear it or are angry about it.

    As the ACLU’s executive director Anthony Romero said after the speech:

    The president should end – not mend – the government’s collection and retention of all law-abiding Americans’ data. When the government collects and stores every American’s phone call data, it is engaging in a textbook example of an ‘unreasonable search’ that violates the constitution.

    That, in general, has long been Obama’s primary role in our political system and his premiere, defining value to the permanent power factions that run Washington. He prettifies the ugly; he drapes the banner of change over systematic status quo perpetuation; he makes Americans feel better about policies they find repellent without the need to change any of them in meaningful ways. He’s not an agent of change but the soothing branding packaging for it.

    As is always the case, those who want genuine changes should not look to politicians, and certainly not to Barack Obama, to wait for it to be gifted. Obama was forced to give this speech by rising public pressure, increasingly scared US tech giants, and surprisingly strong resistance from the international community to the out-of-control American surveillance state.

    Today’s speech should be seen as the first step, not the last, on the road to restoring privacy. The causes that drove Obama to give this speech need to be, and will be, stoked and nurtured further until it becomes clear to official Washington that, this time around, cosmetic gestures are plainly inadequate.

  9. Randyjet, the guy has broken almost every promise he’s ever made. Sorry, but I’ve fallen for his bs for the last time.

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