Today, The / / Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) counsel Jameel Jaffer tell it like it is (and some reading this won’t like it).
Obama is cancelling the NSA dragnet. So why did all three branches sign off?
Jameel Jaffer, American Civil Liberties Union
Tuesday 25 March 2014 10.09 EDT
To anyone who criticized the National Security Agency's phone-records dragnet over the last nine months or so, the American intelligence community had this stock response: all three branches of government signed off on it.
The intelligence community was right, at least in a sense, but what it presented as a defense of the surveillance program was actually an indictment of our oversight system. What it presented as a defense of the program was actually a scandal.
In today's New York Times, Charlie Savage reports that the administration has come to the belated realization that its intelligence interests can be accommodated without placing hundreds of millions of people under permanent surveillance. This is to the good, of course. But if the administration is right that the dragnet was unnecessary, we should ask how all three branches of government got it so wrong.
The answer, in a word, is secrecy…
And, here’s Greenwald…
Obama’s New NSA Proposal and Democratic Partisan HackeryGreenwald reminds us of the actions of the Obama administration, and the reaction of some folks in the Democratic Party with regard to an episode in 2009, when a “lawsuit brought by the ACLU, ruled that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) required the Pentagon to disclose dozens of graphic photos it possessed showing abuse of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
By Glenn Greenwald
The / / Intercept
25 Mar 2014, 9:49 AM EDT
I vividly recall the first time I realized just how mindlessly and uncritically supportive of President Obama many Democrats were willing to be…
Personally, when I hear of the administration’s
spin “pivots” on issues, I think of their previously-stated, strong support for trickle-down economics, chained CPI, Simpson-Bowles and, more recently (as in: “as you’re reading this”), the Trans-Pacific Partnership, every time I hear the White House (now) discussing their focus upon reducing income inequality and support for the climate change movement.
More from Greenwald in his post, today, over at The / / Intercept…
…Obama loyalists and pro-NSA Democrats – the ones that populate MSNBC – [are] in an extremely difficult position. They have spent the last 10 months defending the NSA (i.e., defending Obama) by insisting that the NSA metadata program is both reasonable and necessary to Keep Us Safe™. But now Obama claims he wants to end that very same program. So what will they do?What Greenwald doesn’t mention in the excerpt above is the reality that the primary matter that the administration is now supporting in today’s news cycle is, in fact, merely a shifting with regard to which entity will host much of the telcos' "metadata," not their support for the actual end of the program, itself. Factually speaking, a large portion of what the administration is now labelling as their proposed "NSA Reforms" are pretty much along the lines of one of many options proposed by none other than General Keith “Collect It All” Alexander, just a few months ago.
If they had even an iota of integrity or intellectual honesty, they would instantly and aggressively condemn Obama. After all, he’s now claiming to want to end a program that they have been arguing for months is vital in Keeping Us Safe™. Wouldn’t every rational person, by definition, criticize a political leader who wants to abolish a program that they believe is necessary to stop terrorism and preserve national security?
But that’s not what will happen. After spending months praising the NSA for responsibly overseeing this critical program, they will now hail Obama for trying to end it. When he secretly bulk collects the calling data on all Americans, it shows he’s a pragmatic and strong leader who Keeps Us Safe™; when he tries to end the very same program, it shows he’s flexible and devoted to our civil liberties — just as he was right to release the torture photos and also right to suppress them. The Leader is right when he does X, and he’s equally right when he does Not X. That’s the defining attribute of the mindset of a partisan hack, an authoritarian, and the standard MSNBC host.
As for the substantive reform, the fact that the President is now compelled to pose as an advocate for abolishing this program – the one he and his supporters have spent 10 months hailing – is a potent vindication of Edward Snowden’s acts and the reporting he enabled. First, a federal court found the program unconstitutional. Then, one of the President’s own panels rejected the NSA’s claim that it was necessary in stopping terrorism, while another explicitly found the program illegal. And now the President himself depicts himself as trying to end it. Whatever test exists for determining whether “unauthorized” disclosures of classified information are justified, Snowden’s revelations pass the test with ease. That President Obama now proclaims the need to end a domestic spying program that would still be a secret in the absence of Snowden’s whistleblowing proves that quite compellingly.
Yes, sometimes there is a very fine line between political theater, partisanship, pragmatism and hackery.
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