NSA Surveillance Program Transparent Enough for Barack Obama

transparentReason 24/7President Obama’s on the defensive on the latest scandal to embroil his administration. Unlike the IRS scandal, the president doesn’t claim to have heard about this one on the news with the rest of us. Nevertheless, he doesn’t see what the problem is.

From USA Today:

President Obama is defending National Security Agency surveillance programs, and disputing the notion that he is following in the footsteps of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

In a PBS interview with Charlie Rose, Obama said efforts to track terrorists through phone and Internet surveillance have safeguards to prevent abusing the civil liberties of innocent Americans. Obama cited both congressional and judicial oversight.

When Rose asked, "should this be transparent in some way?" Obama responded: "It is transparent. That's why we set up the FISA court."

Critics note that this court -- created through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- issues rulings in secret.

How newspeaky.

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  • The Late P Brooks||

    He's protecting you from the big bad wolf, you ingrates.

  • Bam!||

    If there is a bear.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    I don't see any bears, so it must be working. Looks like another Nobel Peace Prize for Barry!

  • ||

    Beary Obama!

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Give him the Nobear Peace Prize.

  • califernian||

    Don't forget that national security lets the feds round up all the japanese and put them in camps.

    SECURITY!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "It is transparent. That's why we set up the FISA court."

    Okay, now I think I see what the problem is. The president doesn't know the definition of transparent in this context.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    It's translucent, which is good enough.

  • DJF||

    Its as transparent as something that is totally secret can be. Its an opaque kind of transparent.

  • Pro Libertate||

    No, it's transparent like one of those invisibility cloaks that's in development.

  • Inigo M.||

    "It is transparent."

    Hey, it could be. It really depends on how you define the word "is."

    But, that said, who could be better qualified to decide what is transparent? After all, he has ushered in the most transparent administration ever, right?

    Uh, right?

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    To decide if something is transparent, you have to compare both the unvarnished naked view and the view through the possible transparent material. They can't show us the naked view because, well, NAKED, but they can assure us that what we see is the same as they see, thus TRANSPARENCY!

    Q.E.D.

  • Pro Libertate||

    What, Bush didn't get rubber-stamped by the FISC, too? Really, what's different again?

    WORSE THAN BUSH.

  • KPres||

    Yeah, but they added little hearts to the rubber stamp since then, which tells us how much they love us and care about us now. That's how we know it's OK this time.

  • Brandon||

    I heard they're thinking about upping the chocolate ration, too.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    No, it is still 8 grams, the same as it always has been.

  • ||

    No way. 6 grams. Everything is reduced by 1/4 just like all the "half gallon" ice cream containers at the grocery store.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Opacity is transparency. You're just an oldthinker who unbellyfeels Obamasoc.

  • Rob||

    Amsoc:
    • Opacity is Transparency
    • Spying is Security
    • Dividing is Uniting

  • Rrabbit||

    Apparently in government speak "minimize" means "wiretap", "collect" means "actually use the gathered data", "transparent" means "secret", and "democracy" menas "fuck you, that's why"

  • ||

    The whole administration is so transparent that we've all looked straight through till it became opaque again.

  • Bobarian||

    The Obama Administration: So transparent, you can't even see what we're doing!

  • Fluffy||

    He means that it's transparent to favored members of the political class.

    Every last defender of these programs in the Obamedia has fought and died on that point.

    If Dianne Feinstein is briefed, that constitutes transparency.

    The fact that YOU don't get briefed and that all potential opponents of Feinstein in the next election don't get briefed doesn't matter.

  • ||

    THIS

  • Pro Libertate||

    I seriously question how much the administration fully briefs any member of Congress on "national security" matters.

  • SugarFree||

    They use examples from Berenstain Bears.

    "Papa Bear fell from a ladder. Mama Bear fired a drone at a ladder factory. Sister Bear was told all about it."

  • Inigo M.||

    Well, there's your problem! The Berenstain Bears series is a bit too sophisticated for the reading level of most members of Congress.

    Remember, we are talking about the same people who think North Dakota is a Canadian province (since they think South Dakota is on the Canadian border); that Guam might capsize if too many people stand on one end of the island; and who regret never driving as far as the shoreline in Western Massachusetts (the last one from a Massachusetts Senator, no less!)

    When it comes to explaining things to this group, I think we need to stick to picture books and that toy you point and crank to play different farm animal sounds.

  • ||

    +1 FYTW

  • Dibbler||

    What right do we prole's have to know about this?

  • Drake||

    "It's transparent enough, dammit! I have a tee-time, fuck off already!"

  • np||

    This caught my eye:

    I pointed out where the NSA has hacked civilian infrastructure such as universities, hospitals, and private businesses because it is dangerous. These nakedly, aggressively criminal acts are wrong no matter the target. Not only that, when NSA makes a technical mistake during an exploitation operation, critical systems crash. Congress hasn't declared war on the countries - the majority of them are our allies - but without asking for public permission, NSA is running network operations against them that affect millions of innocent people. And for what? So we can have secret access to a computer in a country we're not even fighting? So we can potentially reveal a potential terrorist with the potential to kill fewer Americans than our own Police? No, the public needs to know the kinds of things a government does in its name, or the "consent of the governed" is meaningless.


    So much for "safeguards"

  • Jerryskids||

    Remember that we are the government. We are Obama and he is us. If Obama knows, then we know. How much more transparency do you want?

  • KPres||

    Exactly. Don't listen to those that say tyranny is just around the corner, they're just trying to gum up the works.

  • Tim||

    Used to be the War on Drugs was the useful idiot for justifying this sort of shit. Now it's terrorism. Sigh.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's not that new. The mysterious "we can do anything regardless of the Constitution" angle has been played over and over again for national security purposes. It definitely seems worse today, which is odd, given that the external threat is, practically speaking, almost nil compared to what it has been in the past.

  • BakedPenguin||

    This is the worst part of it. The USSR was an existential threat to this country. These piss-ant terrorists are a fucking joke compared to what the Societ Union represented.

    If one Russian launch agent in 1983 hadn't made the right judgment call when his satellites showed him 4 US missiles had launched, we might all be dead. Al Qaeda can't come close to that.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's amazing to me that this point isn't made more often. Sure, no one wants domestic terrorism, and what's happened here, particularly in 2001, was horrible, but people in government and in the media should be able to see these things more strategically.

  • Inigo M.||

    Not only that, but they should be the ones explaining to all the idiots out there that they are much more at risk from getting hit by someone running a red light when they are crossing the street than they are at getting killed or injured by a terrorist, or even a lone nutcase with a gun.

    The fact that they never talk about probabilities makes me think they want people scared out of their wits over low-probability events.

  • Pro Libertate||

    What drives me a little nuts are some of the specific reactions to 9/11. Let's say a hijack attempt happens today. Does everyone sit quietly, waiting for their release to be negotiated, or do they freak out and attack the terrorists, assuming the plane will be used as a missile? That's the real difference, and it took no action by government to make that change. All of the security theater altered nothing, really, since terrorists could still board and attempt to take control of a plane today.

    Yes, there are many other ways we can be hit, and taking steps to detect bombs and the like isn't a bad idea, but the fact is that we remain vulnerable and will remain vulnerable to suicidal whackjobs. That's part of the cost of being a relatively open society.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Yes, there are many other ways we can be hit, and taking steps to detect bombs and the like isn't a bad idea, but the fact is that we remain vulnerable and will remain vulnerable to suicidal whackjobs. That's part of the cost of being a relatively open society.

    Agree and, piling on, the more pissing matches worldwide we needlessly insert ourselves into, the greater the likelihood that we get an enemy who will figure out how much more vulnerable the U.S. civilian population is, than the U.S. military personnel causing them grief.

    You can't realistically stop the U.S. military from coming into your country and breaking your shit. (Well, unless you're China. Maybe.) The U.S. is just too powerful, too well-equipped, and most importantly, too practiced at this sort of thing. Trying to spend lots of $$$ to acquire the latest Russian whizbang SAM system won't stop the U.S. from bombing you. They might be forced to use TLAMs instead of F-18s, but you're still getting blown up. Spending the same amount of money on, say, a dozen or so cells of clandestine fighters within the U.S., blowing up infrastructure, shopping malls, you name it: that might stop the U.S.'s will to fight. You'll certainly cause a lot more damage to the U.S.

    It hasn't happened yet. Thankfully. But we can't be lucky forever.

  • Sarg221||

    I made these same comments about living in a free society during my high school debate class. We were debating about the increase in security since 9/11. I basically said that we should disband the TSA because the purpose of terrorism is to influence society through fear, and that the TSA heavily influences travel and was created as a direct result of the fear produced on 9/11 (I also pointed out how ineffective and unreliable the TSA was). Teacher said that I won the debate, but I had a few choice words with some of my classmates regarding how I "wanted the terrorists to win." I told them that the only reason that the 9/11 terrorists attacks succeeded was because nobody had ever used commercial airplanes as missiles before, and now that people know what will happen if a plane is hijacked, they won't allow a plane to be hijacked. They didn't seem to understand how individual citizens could stop a terrorist attack. Gotta love that indoctrination.

  • Gray Ghost||

    They didn't seem to understand how individual citizens could stop a terrorist attack. Gotta love that indoctrination.

    It's a big blind spot with a lot of people. When discussing with some people, the Watertown terrorist hunt and New England police convention, I pointed out (shamelessly cribbing from, I think, tarran or mlg) that locking away the population within their homes is in some ways the worst thing you can do when you're looking for a bad guy. Your population wants to help, and is ubiquitously carrying cameras and phones. Why not let them help out by acting as a distributed surveillance net? The point completely went over their heads.

    The idea that an ordinary, non-government affiliated citizen has the capability to meaningfully help out in cases of civil disorder or catastrophe is completely out of their frame of reference. If the solution doesn't come from government, it may as well not even exist.

  • Gray Ghost||

    On the flip side, I don't think we're quite at the trampling-on-civil-liberties point as Wilson and Palmer's Red Scare. Yet. Though we currently have surveillance tools that are way beyond even J Edgar's dankest fantasies.

    Hey! It can always get worse!

    I completely agree with your previous comments on the level of this Islamic threat vs. the Soviets, or hell, even the Nazis or the Anarchists. Let me know when the Islamists murder many of the leaders of Europe, and I'll start considering them the peers of the Anarchists.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I shudder to think what we'll do if a truly existential threat returns. That's really "when" not "if," too.

  • Gray Ghost||

    I have said, and still think so, that this country will happily shred the rest of the Constitution after our next domestic mass casualty attack. We will embrace a level of total surveillance that Orwell would have blanched to describe. And it will be popular. The cultural acceptance by the punditry of the various NSA surveillance programs, is really rather frightening. So too, the continued refusal of TSA (and Congress, and the airlines who like having their liability umbrella) to roll back even the slightest of security mandates.

    We people who cherish liberty are a dwindling minority in this society. Though despair is a sin, this really doesn't bode well for our future.

  • crashland||

    Oh they sure do see these things strategically. Who benefited the most from 9/11? The terrorists? nope, we killed them. The bureaucrats and politicians benefited tremendously and they still are benefitting. Less freedom for us = more power for them. The endless war on terror is the gift that keeps on giving to the craven fucks.

    For a midget, Madison was one smart very little man, who said:
    "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."

    If having a bureaucratic fuck ask you about your prayers, or the government having access to virtually all of your communication isn't tyranny and oppression...

    The Latte One promised to transform the country and he damn sure is working toward that goal.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Part of it, of course, is the bogeyman effect, which is useful when you need a crisis to justify whatever you're doing.

  • John||

    And Al Qaeda has been largly broken up. They have lost nearly all of their talent in Afghanistan and Iraq. The threat such as it is now is random losers like Hussain at Fort Hood or the two clowns in Boston deciding they wanted to die for the jihad. That sucks. But it is a small threat and there really isn't anything we can do about it. Right now, unlike in 01, there is no organization out there capable of perpetrating a large scale terrorist attack on the US. Basically, we won and this is what victory looks like.

    It is time to start dialing back some of the measures we took after 9-11.

  • crashland||

    But after we lend those islamist goat fuckers a hand in Syria, they'll have some nice shiny weapons + operational experience to use against us, thus perpetuating the threat.

  • Dibbler||

    But..but... Brown people!

  • Tonio||

    When there was a Soviet Union, the US government worked very hard to give the outward appearance that we were an open, transparent, democratic, rule-of-law society. With the fall of the USSR, we no longer have to demonstrate that. Being better than PRC is a low bar to meet.

  • Ted S.||

  • Anonymous Coward||

    The War on Nouns demands that the government take your freedoms because Nouns are an unprecedented threat to your life.

    OOGA BOOGA BOOGA!

  • John||

    The infuriating part about the defenders of this stuff is their constant and mendacious confusing of the existence of such operations and the operations themselves. Just because the public probably shouldn't know exactly who the NSA is listening to at any given time doesn't mean that they shouldn't have to know that the NSA is listening.

    The defenders seem to honestly think that the NSA should be able to collect data on every American and not only is this a good thing but also that Americans should have no right to know this is being done and there should be no public debate about the NSA doing it. That is fucking outrageous. If they think this is such a great idea, they should have told the country upfront what they were doing and welcomed a public debate about it. Instead they are shitting in their pants over the public finding out and them having to explain themselves.

    This entire thing is at heart not really about the NSA or domestic surveillance. It is at heart about whether or not there are areas of government that are so important that the American people should have no knowledge or say in how they are run. That is really the bottom line of the defenders here. They think that the NSA is so important and so above suspicion that the American people should have absolutely no say in how it is run or what things it does or does not do.

  • Ed||

    +1 wiretap

  • Pro Libertate||

    The whole concept of a representative republic goes out the window if voters don't know what the government is doing. How can I vote some power abuser out if I don't know about the abuse? It's bad enough that people accept so much tyrannical behavior that they do know about, but this makes the situation worse.

    This is one reason I think we should regularly eject people when there's even a hint of wrongdoing. Because so much is hidden from us.

  • sarcasmic||

    You don't understand. "Public" means "hidden from view" and "private" means "under surveillance."

    See?

    People in public life are above scrutiny, while private citizens shall be monitored at all time.

    Words mean whatever you want them to mean!

  • Pro Libertate||

    Maybe I should just declare myself Censor, then go up to DC and start demanding answers, removing people from office for any reason I deem fit.

  • Almanian!||

    I am interested in your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I hereby remove the president and his administration from office. Thank you.

  • Almanian!||

    You just hate Obama because he's black.

    RACIST. Also, Romney would've done wrse. I blame Bush.

  • John||

    Exactly. Make no mistake, the defenders of this program are angry that its very existence is known. They think that there shouldn't even be a public debate about it. It should happen without anyone knowing it or the public having any input in the decision to do it.

    And what starts with super secret spy things, inevitably spreads to everything else. The end of this road is the public no longer having any say in what the government does.

  • ||

    They're too stupid to even do secret police properly. If you don't know the Stasi exists, how can you properly fear them?

  • John||

    That is a really good point. They are sort of half assed totalitarians.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    But, Barry is using his whole ass!

  • crashland||

    They don't want a public debate because it is a loosing one for them.

  • sarcasmic||

    The defenders seem to honestly think that the NSA should be able to collect data on every American and not only is this a good thing but also that Americans should have no right to know this is being done and there should be no public debate about the NSA doing it.

    If the American people know, then so will the terrorists, who will then change their behavior. Besides, as long as you're not doing anything wrong...

  • Tim||

    Some day we will have intelligent toilets that take your temperature, heart rate and BP every morning and night, They'll probably analyze your urine and stool too.
    AND THE NSA WILL DOWNLOAD IT ALL.

  • Almanian!||

    I just had a little "download" in the restroom myself. I feel much better. Time for lunch!

    Enjoy your shit sandwich NSA - courtesy of Almanian

  • Dibbler||

    Analyze your urine

    Don't give the drug czar any ideas.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    He just called to say he got the results back, an urine a heap of trouble!

  • Dibbler||

    You stool pigeon!

  • Art Vandelay||

    ....and drone the men is they don't sit down to piss.

  • Sevo||

    Yeah, well, he's sort of shown by his actions what he calls 'transparency'.
    Prolly not one of the words he's really learned.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's like the MSM people suddenly realized he's full of shit or somethin'.

    He only looks good by way of comparison--even to his fans!

    Even to his fans it's, "Doesn't he look good in comparison to Bush?" "Doesn't he look good in comparison to the Tea Party?"

    Take away the split screen, and even his fans start to notice that he's completely full of shit.

  • John||

    They know he is full of shit. And they know this is wrong and very damaging to the country. But they have so much of their personal identity invested in Obama, they have a hard time saying anything. Moreover, they know that they are going to need to be able to talk about these things again and be a watch dog on the government again if a Republican wins in 2016. So they are in a very tight spot. They have to criticize Obama just enough to keep some credibility when they really go after a Republican but not enough to really hurt him personally or hurt his agenda.

  • Pro Libertate||

    He's not good in comparison to Bush, because he does virtually every bad thing Bush did. I suppose he's good in comparison to Pol Pot, though. I have to give him that.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I've been thinking about that a lot lately.

    If Bush was worse, it's only because he helped make all of this stuff easier for Obama to do.

    The persistent excuse of the Obama Administration's defenders has always been, is always, and always will be, "Bush did the same thing".

    TARP, Warrantless surveillance, you name it. Obama maybe, might, could have have achieved the same awful stuff anyway--but it would have been harder.

    I spent a good six years pounding on Bush around here; I never thought I'd live to see the day that I thought...

    The joker in that story a couple of threads down is actually on to something when he says he felt a lot better when it was Bush doing this shit. Obama is especially awful in his objectives in a way that Bush wasn't.

    But one of the worst things Bush ever did was make all of this stuff easier for Obama to do--and that's among the worst things a terrible Bush presidency did. We've had two especially shitty presidents in a row now. I'm starting to worry that Gen-Y and later kids think that's normal.

    It becomes self-fulfilling prophecy. Talk about the tyranny of low expectations!

  • Pro Libertate||

    That doesn't make Bush worse. We've been building on Leviathan for longer than that. A president with character and with a commitment to limited government wouldn't take advantage of prior abuses. But Obama has neither, and his administration is clearly more corrupt than his predecessor's on top of all of that.

    Of course, the big issue is the power of the office, not the man occupying it. People in open dictatorships spend a lot of their time hoping the successor will be better, not fully realizing that it's the system that's the problem.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Of course, the big issue is the power of the office, not the man occupying it."

    I think the biggest issue is what's in people's heads.

    Bush made it acceptable. The only real limits on presidential power aren't in the Constitution. We've all seen our presidents completely ignore that. The real limit on presidential power is what the American people will put up with.

    Bush made this shit acceptable. They probably couldn't have gotten away with this shit during the Red Scare.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Nobody really thought that Bush was building or using the security apparatus so he could go after his political enemies. So in that sense, Obama is worse. Of course you are right about Bush (and Congress, let's not forget their role in this) building the framework that later Presidents might abuse for political gain and to stifle dissent. Which is something libertarians are constantly pointing out to conservatives and liberals. If it can be abused, it probably will be.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Which is something libertarians are constantly pointing out to conservatives and liberals. If it can be abused, it probably will be."

    If nothing is done to punish Obama's behavior with the IRS, there will come a day when a Republican president abuses the IRS to target liberals.

    And when their rank and file protest, that Republican will say, "Obama did the same thing"--as if that justifies it somehow. And the liberals will be shocked--shocked!--that someone would turn around and do the same thing to them.

    First they'll blame Bush; and then they'll blame Reagan; and then they'll blame the rednecks; and then they'll blame everyone else except for themselves and their eagerness to defend Obama when he treated their enemies' rights like toilet paper.

  • Sarg221||

    I find it kind of funny and sad when somebody uses the "Bush did it too and nobody complained about it then" argument.
    If only I had a nickle for every time somebody mentioned warrantless wiretaps during the Bush administration...

  • ||

    Casting line:

    "Obama: I’m not Dick Cheney"

    "The Messiah" KING OBONGO is correct for once !!

    Mr. CHENEY WAS NOT a pathological lying MOOSLUM socialist/communist P O S arse wipe leftist loon idiot, hell bent on the destruction of America.

  • Brandon||

    Fuck off, tard.

  • ||

    And then I just pull 'em right in!

  • ||

    Can't tell if serious.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "When Rose asked, "should this be transparent in some way?" Obama responded: "It is transparent. That's why we set up the FISA court."

    Oh, Obama's transparent alright. We can see right through him.

    And he's got a point! If the process wasn't transparent, then how would you know that the FISA court is just a rubber stamp?

    Obama's so full of shit! He makes Slick Willy look like Honest Abe.

  • John||

    And the FISA court is so transparent, the FBI is currently trying to find and prosecute the leaker of a FISA court warrant.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Look, if secret decisions passed through a rubber-stamping court whose opinions are secret isn't transparent enough for you, you obviously want the terrorists to win.

  • Dibbler||

    He makes Tricky Dick look like Mahatma Gandhi.

  • John||

    Remember Nixon only tried to use the IRS to go after his enemies. The IRS refused.

  • sarcasmic||

    Do you think the entrenched bureaucracy would have had a different response had Nixon been a Democrat?

  • John||

    I am not sure. I don't think the bureaucracy was as uniformly Democrat back then. I think they said no because a few of them actually had some integrity.

    Now, there is no question they would refuse a Republican and do whatever bidding a Democrat asked them.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I think people, even statists, had the idea of limited government a little more ingrained into their psyches back then. Now, ethics and limited government are nothing more than a cheap veneer for the little people.

  • sarcasmic||

    The public schools have completed their indoctrination.

  • Pro Libertate||

    And the media.

  • ||

    "It is transparent. That's why we set up the FISA court."

    hahahahahahaha...gasp...hahahahahahahaha

  • Rich||

    Or, the reply that Rose should have given: "With all due respect, Mr. President, are you fucking insane?"

  • Anonymous Coward||

    What is transparent about a secret court, whose decisions no one in the public is allowed to see?

  • AuH20||

    Anyone else checking the nsa hearing? Apparently the worst mistakes they ever make are typos. It is seriously making me want to vomit. I hope tomorrow new leakes documents emerge showing everything they said is bullshit

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