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Obama: Making Americans Trust Surveillance Is Sort of Like Washing Dishes

Claims he was all about NSA reforms pre-Snowden; congressman accuses president of capitulation. RESET: Obama calls Putin "bored kid in the back of the classroom."

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

August 9, 2013 - 1:39 pm
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The fourth step will be yet another independent review board.

“We’re forming a high-level group of outside experts to review our entire intelligence and communications technologies. We need new thinking for a new era. We now have to unravel terrorist plots by finding a needle in a haystack of global telecommunications. And meanwhile, technology has given governments, including our own, unprecedented capability to monitor communications,” Obama said.

“So all these steps are designed to ensure that the American people can trust that our efforts are in line with our interests and our values,” he continued. “And to others around the world, I want to make clear, once again, that America is not interested in spying on ordinary people. Our intelligence is focused above all on finding the information that’s necessary to protect our people — and in many cases, protect our allies.”

“So this is how we’re going to resolve our differences in the United States, through vigorous public debate guided by our constitution, with reverence for our history as a nation of laws, and with respect for the facts.”

Obama was asked whether his announcement of NSA-related reforms meant that Snowden’s leaks had essentially forced his hand — and changed his opinion on whether the contractor is a whistleblower.

“I don’t think Mr. Snowden was a patriot. As I said in my opening remarks, I called for a thorough review of our surveillance operations before Mr. Snowden made these leaks,” he said. “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.”

Privacy-advocate lawmakers have contended that their requests for information about programs were stonewalled and concerns weren’t heard before the Snowden leaks.

“Because I never made claims that all the surveillance technologies that have developed since the time some of these laws had been put in place, somehow didn’t require potentially some additional reforms. That’s exactly what I called for,” Obama continued.

He acknowledged “there’s no doubt that Mr. Snowden’s leaks triggered a much more rapid and passionate response than would have been the case if I had simply appointed this review board to go through, and I’d sat down with Congress, and we had worked this thing through.”

“It would have been less exciting; it would not have generated as much press,” the president said. “I actually think we would have gotten to the same place and we would have done so without putting at risk our national security and some very vital ways that we are able to get intelligence that we need to secure the country.”

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) quickly accused Obama of capitulating to Snowden with his press conference.

“The president’s announcement today that he will pursue ‘reforms’ to National Security Agency counterterrorism programs is a monumental failure in presidential wartime leadership and responsibility. These programs are legal, transparent and contain the appropriate checks and balances among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our government. These intelligence tools keep Americans safe every single day,” King said.

“America is at war with Islamist terror groups that kill and maim innocent civilians. The current threat to the Homeland is just as high as it was before 9/11. It is difficult to imagine past war leaders such as Franklin Roosevelt or Winston Churchill willingly surrendering signals intelligence tools that are needed to fight our enemies. We need a president who defends our intelligence programs, explains them appropriately to the American people, and uses every legal capability in his arsenal to defeat al-Qaeda.”

“The president today made clear what we have been saying for several weeks, that we will continue to work through the August recess on proposals to improve transparency and strengthen privacy protections to further build the confidence of the American public in our nation’s counterterrorism programs,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.).

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Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (25)
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In so many words: Liar.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is what's REALLY HAPPENING: call it "tightening of the noose!"
2012 Elections Obama used all sources of IT for "data mining" purposes,including NSA's.
2014 Elections Obama needs all sources of IT used in 2012 elections' "data mining," available and operational.
2016 Elections coupled with voter fraud, registratons, and deceased voters as well as National Popular Vote Movement (now underway) united with "new data mining" will ensure democratic wins in Presidency, Senate and Congress. Pray. Amen. We the Elite People of culture of corruption In all of Washington DC will use their 1)greed,2)ever expanding power, and 3)out-and-out corruption to guarantee their continued hold on all reins of everything America. Summing all this up, We The "Little" People have an:1)Executive, 2)Legislative and 3)Justicial branch of American government operating in collusion AGAINST everything that made this country great (in secret at that). Join a Tea Party.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dear Readers!

Comment on our chameleon Obama as much as you want; but only do it with the spirit that you're amusing yourselves with a chimera and only wasting your time which could be applied to more worthwhile things. He's a living emptiness that is at the same time dangerous.

He's one dangerous "unmitigated disaster", in the words of Former Vice President Cheney, and I wholeheartedly agree.

But, aim instead to concentrate on "enduring the unendurable", as our Japanese enemy said at the close of the Pacific War, and plan for our next presidential election.

Energetic folks should start a campaign now to raise the voting age to the mid- or late twenties for presidential elections, along with a stringent literacy test in English. English?.... it should go without saying, but alas, it is necessary now to emphasize English......gasp!...what a novel thought?, eh?

In a very real sense we've brought the likes of this Obama on ourselves with our "reaching out" and grasping every single voter, regardless of their thinking capacity in choosing a National Leader.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
The palpable disdain Obama (and crew) feels for Americans is beyond dispute. It is as if the only requirement is a pat on the head, and the citizenry will step back into line Well, some know better.

In fact, NSAgate (not unlike IRSgate) becomes very personal, in as much as people understand that it IS affecting their very life and liberty. Therefore, the 'unwashed' masses will hardly be mollified - http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/08/02/the-nsa-caught-dead-to-rights-commentary-by-adina-kutnicki/

There is only so much a citizenry will tolerate, or at least one would hope.

Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
re:
" [this NSA revelation].......becomes very personal, in as much as people understand that it IS affecting their very life and liberty."

How so? Explain without the drama.

Consider that we're [at least now in America] saddled with the new mentality of an emerging "netizen" populace who gleefully have, or had, depending on maturity, published "pics" of their genitals over the wide open Internet, and then...start to wail and howl that their "privates" have been exposed.

Isn't that a bit rich?
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think (just as with the First Amendment) a distinction is drawn between private citizens vs the government. The First Amendment prohibits *government* from abrogating or abridging a citizen's freedom of expression through the passage of laws (laws which would restrict his Free Speech). If an employee bad mouths his employer and is fired, he can't claim his Freedom of expression was violated. An individual is also free to post revealing pics of himself/herself, and later express regrets. But that is a far cry from the arm of *govt* (NSA) invading a person's privacy (reading email, etc), under some weak, nebulous authorization.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
I feel his words making sense....what's this warm fuzzy feeling....the rich get richer and the poor get poorer...so sleepy...trust me...he sounds trustworthy...why are children riding purple unicorns?...is this a nighmare?...am I asleep?...can't wake up...can't wake up from this nightmare... ... ... .
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
What a bizarre analogy for Obama to use -- Michelle checking on Obama to see if he had really washed the dishes or not? As if NSA surveillance is as benign as dish washing..."we're just keeping tabs on folks. See what you're up to -- say was that dishwasher water temperature set too high? Endangering the environment, eh?" This hardly furthers Obozo's "need to know" through NSA. And then there are the proposed "expert panels" (our new "managed" democracy, sans privacy -- as detailed in "The Front Man")
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
If my dad told my mom he had washed the dishes, her only reply would be "Have you dried them? Did you put them away?" If he said it, he did it. Neither she nor his children would have had the least doubt that the dishes were spotless if my dad said he washed the dishes. I find it rather bizarre that Michelle would have to go see to believe—does Barack lie to her on a regular basis so that she has to demand evidence?
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Indeed. But, I guess with an Obama, Michelle requires something more than a verbal Obama claim (since I suppose he's so prone to lying). Another bizarre twist -- Obama uses "surveillance" to demonstrate his "innocence" (yes, he had, in fact, washed the dishes). But this isn't how NSA surveillance is used to catch terrorists -- You don't keep tabs on someone (collect email, tap phones, etc) so you can exonerate them. (Obama strikes me as someone with severe problems, worse than Nixon in the paranoia dept.)
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
He often goes personal like that. Everything revolves around him and his, ya see ?

Abortion ? wouldn't want my daughters to be "punished with a baby".

Trayvon, he coulda been me 35 years ago.

And so on
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Note also the number of times Obama places himself in the role of the falsely accused "victim" (and the auditor sighs, "poor Obama!") -- yet, if you follow what Obama, himself, does, he is routinely pointing fingers at others and accusing them of all sorts of nefarious acts.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
He makes all these just-plain-folks references for the benefit of his base, people who are only interested in the mundane and who aren't capable of understanding anything unless it relates personally to their own lives - people just like him.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
That, too. Extraordinarily naive thought processes.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
damn repeated leaks, wouldn't need a discussion if it weren't for them, cuz the GP would be totally uninformed. In fact they wouldn't even know it existed!!
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
" the GP"

aka "ordinary folks" per the emperor-in-chief.

Yes, the clandestine NSA practices would be unknown, therefore, not a problem.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Same for the website, how many websites has he promised that would be open and transparent and either don't exist or or open but useless to know how the money is being spent.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ok. I will believe him if I see the dishes, otherwise I will wait and see.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have never seen him near a dish, much less wash anything. So yes, Mr. President, I accept your crazy statement. In other words, I Disbelieve You.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
"We’re forming a high-level group of outside experts to review our entire intelligence and communications technologies."

The NSA will be given a new high-ranking official charged with protecting civil liberties, while there may be some kind of attempt to place a similar civil-liberties advocate before the FISA court, which overwhelmingly approves government applications for surveillance operations.

More committees ! More bureaucrats ! Yea !

http://www.nationaljournal.com/whitehouse/somewhere-in-russia-edward-snowden-is-smiling-20130809



36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
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