As we contemplate how seriously to take his very self-defensive speech today about how great American surveillance programs are, really, see Politico from yesterday about how even when he is supposedly reaching out to affected parties (both the tech companies that clearly pretty much go along with U.S. intelligence demands, as well as the random representative of organizations supposedly dedicated to standing up for citizens' civil liberties), he insists on doing so under veils of pretty tight secrecy:
President Barack Obama hosted Apple CEO Tim Cook, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, Google computer scientist Vint Cerf and other tech executives and civil liberties leaders on Thursday for a closed-door meeting about government surveillance…..
The session, which Obama attended himself, followed a similar gathering earlier this week between top administration officials, tech-industry lobbyists and leading privacy hawks, the sources said. Those earlier, off-the-record discussions centered on the controversy surrounding the NSA as well as commercial privacy issues such as online tracking of consumers.
The White House has declined to provide any details about its new outreach since the beginning of the week. A spokesman didn't comment Thursday about the high-level meeting with the president — and the companies and groups invited also kept quiet when contacted by POLITICO…..
The administration's outreach began Tuesday, when chief of staff Denis McDonough and general counsel Kathy Ruemmler convened a privacy-focused huddle in the Roosevelt Room. Joining them were representatives from the Information Technology Industry Council, TechNet and TechAmerica, which together represent a diverse swath of the tech industry — from major defense contractors to companies like Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Privacy Information Center were also present, sources said…..
The second meeting Thursday, however, was organized with greater secrecy.
Those invited were mostly senior executives, including Cook, Stephenson and Cerf, as well as representatives of groups like the Center for Democracy and Technology and Gigi Sohn, the leader of Public Knowledge, according to three sources familiar with the meeting. Each declined comment for this story.
Step one, Mr. President, in ceasing to violate our liberties in secrecy is admitting we have a problem, and today's speech fell a little short on that.