Barack Obama

Secrecy is Still the Problem, President Obama


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.


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  1. My favorite part was when he said there are “patriots” on both sides of the debate, except Edward Snowden, who definitely hates America.

    1. Like.


    Just over half of Democrats and Republicans think news organizations should not report the government’s secret anti-terrorism methods.

    The majority want a secret police state. The rest don’t much care.

    1. You know in which other country the majority supported a secret police state?

      1. Earth.

  3. Secrets are for governments, not for the little people.

  4. Obama is suggesting reform for one reason. He has to establish a dividing line between the NSA that Snowden has revealed and the NSA going forward. That permits the government to essentially nullify everything Snowden has released by simply saying, things have now changed. Of course, we can’t talk about those changes, but rest assured that anything Snowden has said is no longer operative.

    1. But why would anybody in his right mind believe Obama?

      “You know, I’ve been around the ruling class all my life, and I’ve been quite aware of their total contempt for the people of the country.” – Gore Vidal

      1. “But why would anybody in his right mind believe Obama?”

        You will have to as Slate, Salon, NBC, CBS, ABC, NYT, the Nation, the DNC, etc that question.

        But that kind of answers it already, doesn’t it?

      2. For the same reason they believe D.A.R.E – everytime someone points out that their programs don’t work they come back with “yeah but that was *last* years program – this one is totally different”.

      3. Gore Vidal says that other people have contempt for Americans? Without irony?

        1. Just think about that. If Gore Vidal thinks you’re contemptuous of Americans, then you’ve really got a problem.

          1. I have to admit I have contempt for most people.

            That’s why I LEAVE THEM THE FUCK ALONE.

        2. The reason he was around the ruling class for so long is that he was part of it. That’s why he got book deals. He’s an example of the contempt, arguably deserved, the ruling class hold for the boobasie.

      4. A lot of Obama fans will continue to believe Obama just like a lot of Bush fans believed Bush. The bulk of the electorate are very easily placated and the American establishment media will be more than happy to lend credence to Obama’s claims and promises.

    2. Right. Exactly. We can trust anything they say unless there is a court case that decides definitively what they may or may not do. The president can blather on as long as wants and let the NSA just continue doing the same thing in secret.

  5. The purpose of the speech utterly baffles me — was there anything substantive said at all about PRISM and changes to the program? Was a bill suggested or introduced?

    I don’t see how anyone who had concerns before the speech would have had those concerns put to rest by what was said during the speech.

    1. Nothing to see here, move on…

    2. He convened a panel. No, TWO panels. Of experts. What more do you want?

      1. Well hot damn, I’m sure appointed experts will get to the bottom of this.

      2. TOP! MEN!

    3. Well, he did say maybe one day something might somehow be invented technology wise to prevent these kinds of searches.

      I mean, he could just stop fucking doing them. But nah, we need someone to hopefully invent new security tech to save them from themselves.

      1. In theory they are already prevented from just searching anyone they want. Snowden’s point is that that’s all *policy* based, and technologically, there is nothing to prevent any analyst (including himself low level high-school dropout contractor) from looking up metadata on anyone in the US.

  6. Behind the closed doors:

    “…Ok, so here’s your browsing history Randall. Naughty naughty naughty.

    Tim, here’s the transcripts of those phone calls you don’t want your wife to see. If she ever finds out…well just be glad you aren’t married to a Wookie.

    And this special box is just for you Vint. I’m sure you already know what’s inside.

    Did I miss anyone?…”

    1. Hahahaha! … Nice.

    2. You’re his father, you sick fuck.

      [Vint starts crying]

  7. OT:
    handy video for ‘justified shooting’ conditions for cops.…..D3cgDRsDck

    1. Cops show up to blast every one of those dogs seconds after these inspirational reunions… Why? You know why. /FYTW

      That would make it a “video for ‘justified shooting’ conditions for cops”.

  8. …”The session, which Obama attended himself,”…

    Oh, the heart patters! I hope they has respirators on hand!

    1. Unicorn farts cause hallucinations.

  9. He is trying to establish some kind of credibility. I suppose he does have some. You can be certain that whatever comes out of shitweasel’s mouth is the inverse of the truth. He would lie if the truth served him better.

    1. “He would lie if the truth served him better.”

      My old man used to say that about Slick Willy all the time.

    2. “He would lie if the truth served him better.”
      Well that’s an interesting hypothesis, but is it testable? Can you posit a situation where the truth would serve him better?

  10. I can only imagine how that earlier meeting went with the folks from EPIC in the room.

  11. Personally, I hope this ends in a SCOTUS smackdown, because if it stops short of that then the limits of the NSA’s legal authority are still not clearly outlined. They can always just keep expanding their surveillance in secret, and we’ll never know. There is no way we can trust what there are doing unless a different branch of government steps in and curtails this.

  12. HazelMeade| 8.9.13 @ 4:40PM |#
    “Personally, I hope this ends in a SCOTUS smackdown,…”

    Just so long as Roberts takes his meds and doesn’t figure it is somehow a tax.

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