Two of These Speeches

President Obama gave a press conference yesterday in which he addressed the revelations upon the leaks by whistle-blower Edward Snowden two months ago.

“As I said at the National Defense University back in May, in meeting those threats, we have to strike the right balance between protecting our security and preserving our freedoms. And as part of this rebalancing I called for a review of our surveillance programs. Unfortunately, rather than an orderly and lawful process to debate these issues and come up with appropriate reforms, repeated leaks of classified information have initiated the debate in a very passionate but not always fully informed way.” (Emphasis added.)

What he actually said on 23 May 2013 at the National Defense University was this,

“Meanwhile [after the United States went to war against terrorism], we strengthened our defenses — hardening targets, tightening transportation security, giving law enforcement new tools to prevent terror.  Most of these changes were sound.  Some caused inconvenience.  But some, like expanded surveillance, raised difficult questions about the balance that we strike between our interests in security and our values of privacy.  And in some cases, I believe we compromised our basic values — by using torture to interrogate our enemies, and detaining individuals in a way that ran counter to the rule of law.”

So, he himself leaked to the public “expanded surveillance” just weeks before Snowden did. A bit later he explained in plain language,

“[T]his threat [terrorism within America’s borders] is not new.  But technology and the Internet increase its frequency and in some cases its lethality.  Today, a person can consume hateful propaganda, commit themselves to a violent agenda, and learn how to kill without leaving their home.  To address this threat, two years ago my administration did a comprehensive review and engaged with law enforcement.

And the best way to prevent violent extremism inspired by violent jihadists is to work with the Muslim American community  — which has consistently rejected terrorism — to identify signs of radicalization and partner with law enforcement when an individual is drifting towards violence.  And these partnerships can only work when we recognize that Muslims are a fundamental part of the American family.  In fact, the success of American Muslims and our determination to guard against any encroachments on their civil liberties is the ultimate rebuke to those who say that we’re at war with Islam.

Thwarting homegrown plots presents particular challenges in part because of our proud commitment to civil liberties for all who call America home.  That’s why, in the years to come, we will have to keep working hard to strike the appropriate balance between our need for security and preserving those freedoms that make us who we are.  That means reviewing the authorities of law enforcement, so we can intercept new types of communication, but also build in privacy protections to prevent abuse.”

Intercept new types of communication (the internet) and building in privacy protections to prevent abuse. Sounds like squaring the circle. Or did he mean, collect metadata which has convincingly been described as being worse than just eavesdropping?

So, all of this has been leaked conceded by Obama already in May. Why didn’t anybody listen then?

“The Justice Department’s investigation of national security leaks [supposedly Gen. Cartwright’s leak of the U.S. American origin of the Stuxnet virus] offers a recent example of the challenges involved in striking the right balance between our security and our open society.  As Commander-in-Chief, I believe we must keep information secret that protects our operations and our people in the field.  To do so, we must enforce consequences for those who break the law and breach their commitment to protect classified information.  But a free press is also essential for our democracy.  That’s who we are.  And I’m troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable.

Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs.  Our focus must be on those who break the law.  And that’s why I’ve called on Congress to pass a media shield law to guard against government overreach.”

Again, is he shooting himself in the foot? We need to know about wrongdoings and crimes of or government in order to deselect an administration at the right time. That’s who we are. Snowden may have breached conduct codes of his employer and NSA security and defense subcontractor, Booz Allen Hamilton. So, they fired him, but that’s all.

Coming back to Obama’s press conference yesterday. Early in his remarks he claims,

“I’m also mindful of how these issues [the NSA total surveillance scandal] are viewed overseas because American leadership around the world depends upon the example of American democracy and American openness, because what makes us different from other countries is not simply our ability to secure our nation; it’s the way we do it, with open debate and democratic process.

In other words, it’s not enough for me, as president, to have confidence in these programs. The American people need to have confidence in them as well.”

And again, it seems that the quadrature of the circle is becoming the main issue in his second term. Too many false promises and unjustified claims which have led to complete lack of any credibility, mainly abroad but increasingly among Obama’s American supporters as well.

Obama went on describing an immediate agenda to, well, increase transparency of surveillance, minimize abuse and establish confidence of the common American that he is a sheep taken care of by a shepherd. As a final issue he intends,

“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.

So I’m tasking this independent group to step back and review our capabilities, particularly our surveillance technologies, and they’ll consider how we can maintain the trust of the people, how we can make sure that there absolutely is no abuse in terms of how these surveillance technologies are used, ask how surveillance impacts our foreign policy, particularly in an age when more and more information is becoming public. “

Is Obama driveling about how to get all evil back into Pandora’s box? “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.”

“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.”

To protect our people and, in many cases (sic!), protect our allies. The language is revealing. He addresses subjects, not citizens. Obama’s unjustified arrogant imperial supremacy is expressed in his final claims of his remarks to the press corps.

“It’s true we have significant capabilities. What’s also true is we show a restraint that many governments around the world don’t even think to do, refuse to show. That includes, by the way, some of America’s most vocal critics. We shouldn’t forget the difference between the ability of our government to collect information online, under strict guidelines and for narrow purposes, and the willingness of some other governments to throw their own citizens in prison for what they say online.”

Needless to report that, when answering questions, Obama emphasized that he won’t  consider Edward Snowden a patriot.

“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. 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, 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.”

So he leaked before Snowden even thought about it. But, as is shown above, his “call for a thorough review of our surveillance operations” was too vague, as so many of his full-bodied promises in his numerous speeches before. Knowing Obama in the meantime, it won’t matter what he says anymore. He even might have admitted to that.

“And 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 and it would not have generated as much press — 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.”

Well, whether the nation was put at risk may be debated, too.

10 August 2013 @ 8:55 am.

Last modified August 10, 2013.

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