Obama Unironically Bashes Romney for Investing in Surveillance Company That Helps Government Spy on Citizens

Much of last night’s debate prompted little more than eye rolls and sarcastic tweeting from me, but one comment from President Barack Obama did prompt me to actually open my mouth and mutter, “Are you fucking kidding me?”  From Politico’s transcripts:

When he talks about getting tough on China, keep in mind that Governor Romney invested in companies that were pioneers of outsourcing to China, and is currently investing in countries — in companies that are building surveillance equipment for China to spy on its own folks. [emphasis added]

Just a week ago, the Supreme Court declined to consider a case involving the American government eavesdropping on its own citizens without warrants and whether telecommunications companies could be held liable for providing the backdoors to allow it to happen. The Obama administration wants to quash these types of suits, invoking national security. Warrantless digital surveillance by the Department of Justice has skyrocketed in the last two years. That Obama would boldly go there in the debate – well that certainly wasn’t an attempt to grab the libertarian vote, was it?

The New York Times wrote about the company Obama’s referring to back in March:

In December, a Bain-run fund in which a Romney family blind trust has holdings purchased the video surveillance division of a Chinese company that claims to be the largest supplier to the government’s Safe Cities program, a highly advanced monitoring system that allows the authorities to watch over university campuses, hospitals, mosques and movie theaters from centralized command posts.

The Bain-owned company, Uniview Technologies, produces what it calls “infrared antiriot” cameras and software that enable police officials in different jurisdictions to share images in real time through the Internet. Previous projects have included an emergency command center in Tibet that “provides a solid foundation for the maintenance of social stability and the protection of people’s peaceful life,” according to Uniview’s Web site.

Such surveillance systems are often used to combat crime and the manufacturer has no control over whether they are used for other purposes. But human rights advocates say in China they are also used to intimidate and monitor political and religious dissidents. “There are video cameras all over our monastery, and their only purpose is to make us feel fear,” said Loksag, a Tibetan Buddhist monk in Gansu Province. He said the cameras helped the authorities identify and detain nearly 200 monks who participated in a protest at his monastery in 2008.

But that couldn’t happen in America, right? Our governments would never partner with a private company to produce a citywide surveillance system or stalk and intimidate a distrusted minority. That would be wrong.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Finally the media is resurrecting Obama's campaign, whether he and the DNC want to win or not.

    I'm going to spend Randian's $20 on cheap Indian whiskey (8 P.M.), drink half and put the other half in my car.

    Then with my change I'll buy $15 worth of phone cards.

  • John||

    I don't think so.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    You also didn't think Obamacare would pass the SC.

    I got another $20...

  • John||

    And it only got through by a miracle. Maybe you will get another miracle here. But I doubt it.

    Here is the thing. If Obama loses, are you going to admit how stupid your prediction was? You never know for sure. But it seems awfully stupid to bet on a president this incompetent no matter how much the media wants to help him.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I'll be too happy to give a shit. Basically I'm paying $20 to enjoy the salty ham tears of Obamatrons, which I'd gladly do.

    Alternately, I get $20 to suffer the odious gloating of Obamatrons everywhere, and enjoy the slightly less enjoyable (and much quieter) salty ham tears of Rushaholics everywhere.

    The spread that Randian put in has me slightly worried (in that Obama can win, and I still lose $20), but in that case, who gives a crap, it's only twenty bux.

    And if you think that mass voter fraud, coupled with a completely incompetent RNC campaign, rolled up in a huge vat of complete media partisanship and disingenuity with a huge cherry of the intransigence and idiocy of the average American voter is a miracle, well, I don't know what the 'then' to that is, but it's pretty bad.

  • WTF||

    Yup - the media are going to drag this fucker to a second term if it kills them.

  • Sudden||

    They're already dead, just look at the newspaper industry.

    Undead Zombie Media is more dangerous than regular media. Fortunately, it will starve itself over a generation. These creatures feast on brains, and yet they are killing brains with their own idiocy. Can't destroy your own food supply and survive.

  • Cytotoxic||

    I have to agree with WRG here. Obama still has what he needs. Romney's push won't be enough; I think we've seen his peak.

  • R C Dean||

    Obama's working on his October surprise right now: retaliation for the Benghazi attack. The timing couldn't be better for him, of course; a series of raids/drones across Libya to take revenge for the death of our ambassador, a week or so before the election.

    Naturally, it won't be until after the election that we learn how many guilty parties were not/could not be targeted because of the delays, how many innocents were killed/injured, etc.

    The Romney campaign will be far too ball-less to challenge the raids when they occur, so they will be sitting ducks for the inevitable victory parade through the DemOp media.

    It may be too little, too late, but combine it with the series of fabricated positive economic data points, and "dragged across the finish line" is probably a good way to put it.

  • Paul.||

    and "dragged across the finish line" is probably a good way to put it.

    I would say "carried across the finish line", but otherwise, what you said.

  • Sudden||

    Naturally, it won't be until after the election that we learn how many guilty parties were not/could not be targeted because of the delays, how many innocents were killed/injured, etc.

    Nailed it.

    They've been setting the stage. "We're gonna get the people responsible for this." has been the meme for a month now. They will coincidentally find said responsible people the weekend before the election and bomb them.

    None of these people will actually be the responsible parties, though there may be some Al-Queda piddling wiseguy for a plausible deniability. The rest will be randoms, but since they're males between the ages of 18-45, they'll be labeled co-conspirators. The truth will come out well after the re-relection is secured, and the GOP will be too craven and too committed to the "kill terrorists" MO to protest or prosecute the outright war crime.

  • Paul.||

    Here is the thing. If Obama loses, are you going to admit how stupid your prediction was?

    John, once again, you're confusing what some us think is going to happen with what we hope is going to happen.

    Just because I think Obama is going to win, doesn't mean I want him to win.

  • Sudden||

    I'm a Chiefs fan. Watching this election is like watching a Raiders/Broncos game. Nothing short of apocalypse will make me happy, but I will enjoy the salty tears of the losing TEAM

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    It's a friggin huge leap going from cameras in public spaces to govt cameras in private property. False equivalence FTL.

  • Hugh Akston||

    So you're just gonna ignore the parts about warrantless surveillance of internet and cell phone communications?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Tulpa's misreading things and being right "9 times out of 10" today.

    Close enough for gummint work!

  • Hugh Akston||

    It's not easy to come up with a new way to prove you're smarter than Reason writers on every single post.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    *holds up pin that says "I Am Eruditer Than You"*

    Might as well put it right out there.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I've spent time in Quellule, but Arasai get glide.

  • ||

    Tulpa's going to be a disingenuous idiot. In other news, the sun rises in the east.

  • sarcasmic||

    He's trying to untwist his panties after I pointed out his fallacious arguments yesterday.

  • ||

    Why you people still try to engage that retard is beyond me.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    You know if David Banner had your attitude he never would have cured the gamma radiation poisoning.

  • ||

  • ||

    It makes him feel comfortable.

  • ||

  • ||

    I get that he likes to wear women's clothes. Nothing wrong with that. But why did he marry a horse in a blond wig?

  • ||

    Because he's also into bestiality, NTTAWWT.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    I hope we get another "Prove that Welch doesn't hate Romney" fight today.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I'm supposed to comment on every sentence in the original post? There was nothing I felt strongly enough to comment on except the last bit.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Seems that's the case...I dunno....9 times out of 10?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Sigh. Babboons are gonna fling poop, nothing I can do to stop them but get out of the way.

    But I won't, because that's what they want.

  • Paul.||

    Thank you Hugh. When you're late to a thread, it helps that the early birds hit all the right points.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Surprise, surprise, surprise!

    /sarconomic

  • The Late P Brooks||

    But those lousy Chinamen paid for those cameras with artificially devalued currency. They make it hard for us to artificially devalued our currency, and that's not fair.

  • ||

    Those lousy Chinamen...

    Ahem...RACIST!!!

    : D

  • T||

    No, sexist. Chinapersons is the preferred nomenclature these days.

  • Sudden||

    Asian-American, please.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Asian-Asians, in this case?

  • Killazontherun||

    The Obama administration wants to quash these types of suits, invoking national security. Warrantless digital surveillance by the Department of Justice has skyrocketed in the last two years.

    That assumes Obama acknowledges being president for the past four years. Watching the same debate you did, I've seen no evidence to that being the case.

  • ||

    Obama is running against Romney's record of not being president the last four years, not against his own record of being a horrible president. Or something like that. The twisted contortions of the TEAM BLUE mind are difficult to follow.

  • Hugh Akston||

    It's Bush's fault. Just keep repeating that to yourself until you fall asleep.

  • Killazontherun||

    Onion is way ahead of the curb:

    Nation Tunes In To See Which Sociopath More Likable This Time

    http://www.theonion.com/articl.....abl,29946/

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    "way ahead of the curb"

    *blinks*

    Really?

  • Killazontherun||

    I have a little bit of a cold.

  • Killazontherun||

    How is it Obama never gets taken to task for not being able to pronounce a 'r'? Do the rest of you just not hear it?

  • nicole||

    Do you mean no r's or just at the end of a syllable?

  • Killazontherun||

    Like Dennis Leary in his annoying twuck commercial, he turns them into 'w's.

  • KDN||

    My guess is tghat it's the "negro-dialect" he breaks out for his plain folks speeches. I've never picked up on it, but I grew up and live in the shadow of NYC and have Brooklynite parents.

    Parts of New England, especially Boston, are non-rhotic, as are New York City and surrounding areas. African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is largely non-rhotic.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.....ic_accents

  • nicole||

    Right, that's why I was asking about syllable position. He's at least sometimes non-rhotic, but that doesn't actually mean no r's. I'll have to listen in for stuff like "twuck"; I haven't noticed that and I'm curious what I'll think he's doing.

  • Killazontherun||

    That is likely why I pick up on it as being strange to my ears. Black dialect here in Greensboro sounds more like a strictly Southern one, like you would hear with Harvey Gant or Governor Wilder.

  • John||

    He actually said "when I was President" last night. I am not kidding. I don't know who was President the last four years. But I Obama has made it clear it wasn't him.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Like I said in another thread, he's running against the incumbent.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    "Bain Capital! 47%! You didn't build that! Corporations! The Rich™!! War on Wimmins! Healthcare! I mean - Free Healthcare®!! For everyone! And unicorns!"

    You had me at "Bain Capital".

  • Whiterun Guard||

    It has Capital in it, that means they're capitalists!! They will kill your babies for money!

  • R C Dean||

    They will kill your babies for money!

    No, that's Planned Parenthood. Also, I should point out, a corporation.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Only until they need bailing out. Too glib to fail.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    LALALALALAALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!

  • Killazontherun||

    Romney missed it altogether on PandP last night by making the argument tax payers subsidize abortions (at least I think I heard that -- I would shooting down the moonshine pretty steadily, you could tell my improved typing and syntax). Abortions are highly profitable to their enterprise. Federal subsidies are just icing on the cake that should be defunded in part because they can stand on their own two feet, but mostly because NGOs shouldn't be on the public dime.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    If you can't trust Janet Napolitano to look out for your best interests, who can you trust?

  • R C Dean||

    Umm, me?

  • Pope Jimbo||

    I was flipping by and heard that comment and laughed out loud. The other comment that Obama made that I laughed at was:


    So we just have a different theory. And when Governor Romney stands here, after a year of campaigning, when during a Republican primary he stood on stage and said “I’m going to give tax cuts” — he didn’t say tax rate cuts, he said “tax cuts to everybody,” including the top 1 percent, you should believe him because that’s been his history.

    And that’s exactly the kind of top-down economics that is not going to work if we want a strong middle class and an economy that’s striving for everybody.

    My emphasis. I can't tell if he thinks that top-down economics never works, or if it is just this flavor that doesn't work.

  • Paul.||

    My emphasis. I can't tell if he thinks that top-down economics never works, or if it is just this flavor that doesn't work.

    *Boom*

    A couple of years ago while the Democrats were making their repeated case for Stimulus, I kept asking people (and never got a response) "So, when did the Democrats begin to believe in Trickle Down Economics?"

  • ||

    My emphasis. I can't tell if he thinks that top-down economics never works, or if it is just this flavor that doesn't work.

    I think he meant he didn't like "that kind" of top-down economics, but perhaps it was a clueless attempt to peel off a few marginal Tea Partier-ish folks by pretending to have a fucking clue about economics.

    Truly a self-parodying moment.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    When I heard it live, I definitely thought he was dissing all top-down economic schemes and I laughed. Looking at the transcript, though, I would have to lean more closely to the theory that he just meant that Mitt's Top Men was nowhere near as good as his Top Men.

  • Adam330||

    That term is part of his stump- he says it all the time and it's really friggin' annoying. His entire philosophy is 'top-down economics.'

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Asian-American, please.

    Even the ones who live in China? And run their central bank?

  • NeonCat||

    That's the solution to all our problems!
    a)Since the US govt claims the right to tax citizens earnings even if they haven't set foot in the US in years
    b)We're a nation of immigrants
    c)The US govt should just declare that every rich person in the world is a US citizen and tax their earnings

    Sure, other nations will bitch about how we're shanghaiing (so to speak) their wealthy citizens, but what are they going to do, complain to the UN?

  • R C Dean||

    You'd think the trustafarians at the NYT would comprende the importance of this word:

    a Bain-run fund in which a Romney family blind trust has holdings

  • شات عراقنا||

    very nice

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement