President Obama Says He'll Rein In NSA... Then Proceeds To Praise And Defend Everything They've Done

from the not-very-convincing dept

In an interview on Thursday, President Obama said that he's going to propose some "self-restraint on the NSA" and to "initiate some reforms that can give people more confidence." Of course, he's the boss of the NSA. He doesn't need to "propose" anything -- he can order them to stop. Furthermore, it appears that nearly everything else he talked about was supporting the actions of the NSA, so it's a bit difficult to take seriously this idea that there will be any significant decrease in NSA activity.
"The challenge is...we do have people who are trying to hurt us. And they communicate through these same systems," Obama said. "And if we're going to do a good job preventing a terrorist attack in this country, a weapon of mass destruction getting on the New York subway system, etc., we do want to keep eyes on some bad actors."

"I want to everybody to be clear: the people at the NSA, generally, are looking out for the safety of the American people. They are not interested in reading your emails. They're not interested in reading your text messages. And that's not something that's done. And we've got a big system of checks and balances, including the courts and Congress, who have the capacity to prevent that from happening," the president added.
That's misleading to inaccurate, depending on your perspective. The checks and balances are not all they're cracked up to be, with everyone pretty much reliant on the NSA telling the truth, combined with the fact that many of those responsible for "oversight" are so close with the NSA that they're more co-conspirators than actual overseers.

Separately, can we drop this whole "they're not interested in reading your emails" bullshit? All people are saying there is "look you're a peon so shut up and deal with the fact that you have no privacy." That's ridiculous. Clearly the NSA is reading lots of people's emails (and getting data about them and what they do). While they might not make use of it today to spy on you in particular, that doesn't mean that it won't change in the future when suddenly you become "a person of interest" for whatever reason. It's easy for some people to think that the government won't ever care what they're doing -- but that can always change in a hurry and by the time it does, it's too late to start "worrying" about your privacy.

On top of that, recent revelations have made it clear that the NSA has no qualms at all about using information it gathers on non-terrorists that it doesn't like to try to destroy their lives. Sure, the NSA might not want to read your email today. But, piss off the wrong person tomorrow...

Separately, if they don't want to spy on me, let's make a simple deal then: stop doing it. It's hard to square this claim from NSA defenders that it's okay to spy on all of us because they don't want to spy on all of us. The right response is to stop spying on all of us. You want to go after the so-called "bad people," okay, then target those people but not everyone in hopes you might find some bad people mixed in there.

Oh, and once again, it's incredibly insulting how completely unconcerned the President and other NSA defenders seem to be about the rest of the world. Once again the message is basically: if you're not American, fuck you.
"The N.S.A. actually does a very good job about not engaging in domestic surveillance, not reading people's emails, not listening to the contents of their phone calls. Outside of our borders, the NSA's more aggressive. It's not constrained by laws," Obama said.
But it can be constrained by their boss, who happens to be the President. Will he actually do anything?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Dec 6th, 2013 @ 7:16am

    Outside of our borders, the NSA's more aggressive. It's not constrained by laws," Obama said.

    * Once again the message is basically: if you're not American, fuck you. *

    And then they are shocked when this attitude comes back to bite them.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 7:46am

    seems to me that Obama is too afraid to actually condemn what the NSA has been up to and are, in fact, still doing. when the President cant do anything or is too afraid of doing anything against the security forces, who is really running the country?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 7:52am

    'he N.S.A. actually does a very good job about not engaging in domestic surveillance, not reading people's emails, not listening to the contents of their phone calls. Outside of our borders, the NSA's more aggressive. It's not constrained by laws'

    what an absolute bullshit statement! the NSA may well not be confined by USA laws but every other country in the world has it's own laws and they should be respected and observed by every other country, not run roughshod over, just because it's the USA NSA! there would be all hell let loose if other countries were doing to the USA what the NSA has been doing to others, and were then caught in the act! look at the shit that has been thrown at Huawei over back doors built in to routers sold in the USA. it was complete bollocks and only done to try to throw people off the scent of scrutinising what the NSA were doing!

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 7:55am

    It sounds very much like your politicians are too afraid of their security forces and nowhere near afraid enough of their people.

    If only there were something you could do about that....

     

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  5.  
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    The Real Michael, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 8:10am

    "The challenge is...we do have people who are trying to hurt us. And they communicate through these same systems," Obama said. "And if we're going to do a good job preventing a terrorist attack in this country, a weapon of mass destruction getting on the New York subway system, etc., we do want to keep eyes on some bad actors."

    Fear propaganda. "...a weapon of mass destruction getting on the New York subway system..." Yeah, as if. If ever there were a dirty bomb or such detonated on US soil, the government should be considered suspect #1. They have the motive, means and resources necessary to carry out such an attack. I'm getting real sick and tired of hearing about the doomsday threat posed by cavemen from over a thousand miles away and their supposed "expertise" at bomb-making and breaches of a multi-billion dollar security machine.

    "I want to everybody to be clear: the people at the NSA, generally, are looking out for the safety of the American people. They are not interested in reading your emails. They're not interested in reading your text messages. And that's not something that's done. And we've got a big system of checks and balances, including the courts and Congress, who have the capacity to prevent that from happening," the president added.

    If they're not spying domestically then explain the political targeting of the IRS.

     

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  6.  
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    Pixelation, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 8:13am

    "...we do want to keep eyes on some bad actors."

    Methinks we are all considered "bad actors".

     

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  7.  
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    Simon, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 8:37am

    What it actually means...

    "Guy's, you have to get better at hiding your tracks."

     

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  8.  
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    Deranged Poster (profile), Dec 6th, 2013 @ 8:48am

    NSA Files

    The NSA Must of let Obama know what they had on him.

     

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  9.  
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    JWW (profile), Dec 6th, 2013 @ 8:49am

    translation

    "self restraint on the NSA" means "do whatever you want"

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 8:50am

    Future Snowden revelations

    I can't wait until we see the leak that describes what's actually being done proactively by the intelligence communities as a consequence of this data collection.

    I've said it before, the likelihood that all this is just a passive data gathering in order to respond to threats without some ulterior intent to mold and shape opinions in a covert way is unlikely.

    We already see tons of sock puppets and their social media and corporate assets shaping public opinion and creating filter bubbles to misinform and redirect public opinion. Given that propaganda is no longer illegal, it's a free for all for puppet masters and policy hacks to have free reign to cajole and influence overtly. One can only imagine what secretive goals and ends are being fueled by these means.

     

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  11.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Dec 6th, 2013 @ 8:51am

    My perspective differs

    That's misleading to inaccurate, depending on your perspective.


    My perspective is slightly different: that's a lie.

     

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  12.  
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    JWW (profile), Dec 6th, 2013 @ 8:51am

    Re:

    who is really running the country?


    I'm sure Obama agrees that this is a huge problem and he will work diligently to try to find the answer.

     

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  13.  
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    Jerrymiah, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 8:53am

    Re: President Obama Says He'll Rein In NSA... Then Proceeds To Praise And Defend Everything They've Done

    bama can't do anything about all this spying on everybody because he is not the boss. Keith Alexcander is the boss and Obama has to answer to him or ask for his authorization before doing anything against the NSA. All he's been saying about reigning the NSA in is pure White House bullshit.

     

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  14.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Dec 6th, 2013 @ 8:55am

    Re:

    I actually don't think that his behavior is due to fear. I think his behavior is because he really believes that the programs are just dandy.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Randy, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 8:57am

    Location Tracking

    Easy fix, get a SilentPocket
    It’s not just the Government and police. Until we get proper legislation making app developers have you op in instead of opting out, you will never know what you have downloaded to your mobile device.
    Using a SilentPocket® allows you to take control of your own privacy when it comes to Smartphone tracking. With over 1,500,000 mobile app developed for smartphones, many of which are stealth and are eavesdropping on your every move. Some are capable of turning on functions on your phone like your mic, camera, GPS, address book and more, even when it has been turned off.
    There is only one way to stop this if you really want to know for sure that you have control of your mobile device is to block all forms of wifi coming in or going out. Silent-Pocket

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 9:18am

    Didn't Obama say he "didn't know" the NSA was spying on Merkel? If that was true, then why is he SO SURE that they aren't telling him about who they are spying on at home, too? Why is he defending them so vigorously when he already admitted he doesn't know a LOT about what the NSA is doing?!

    Also, from NSA's own past admissions, they have a VERY POOR audit system, where employees could abuse the system, and they wouldn't even know about it YEARS LATER unless those employees come clean themselves. They've also recently said they can't search for internal stuff, and they probably aren't logging who's doing what either.

    So WHY THE HELL would we believe when he says "everything is under the control"?! We have absolute no reason to trust them on their words anymore, and all the reasons to believe they are lying (especially since it seems to be a shameless habit of theirs).

     

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  17.  
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    ebilrawkscientist (profile), Dec 6th, 2013 @ 9:24am

    ERMAHGHERDED AGAIN!

    >"Oh, and once again, it's incredibly insulting how completely unconcerned the President and other NSA defenders seem to be about the rest of the world. Once again the message is basically: if you're not American, fuck you. "


    Hello from Canada, we are not subject to the regime of the United Stasi of America understand. That makes YOU (U.S.A's alphbetical governmental police) an enemy combatant. Do you understand. Now stay on your side of the border. Thanks loads.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    David, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 9:33am

    Re: Re:

    Yes, that's the problem with having a lawyer as president. He'll believe whatever he is told to believe, with all his heart. Never mind it contradicts the evidence: his job is to convince the jury, and that works best if he's convinced himself.

    The big parties are not sensibly presented by elephants or donkeys. The appropriate mascots are red- and yellow-necked weasels.

    Bush believed what his puppeteers told him because he did not know better. Obama believes what his puppeteers tell him because he is trained not to know better.

    America chose first a dunce, then a cynic to be president. Who will be next?

     

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  19.  
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    Deranged Poster (profile), Dec 6th, 2013 @ 9:40am

    Re: Location Tracking

    If you're going to block everything (Signals included), making it so your phone doesn't work, why not just pull the battery?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 9:44am

    Re:

    I remember travelling a decade ago and having tourist shop owners tell me they hate f***** americans.

    They don't really do anything directly, but a great many of them have this attitude about them that combined with global american politics and the media make for a really bad combination for perception.

    Time for the US to take a step back and focus on fixing things at home rather than "lead" the world.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 10:10am

    Re: Re: Location Tracking

    Wow. You really are deranged. Smart people have figured out this doesn't actually work. The only real way to go is to pull the battery AS WELL as block the signal - just in case (just use cheap ass foil if you're on a budget).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 10:50am

    Re: Location Tracking

    Just do it yourself. Under no circumstances would I pay $80 for that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 11:00am

    NSA's new targeting rules

    Drink Meade, MD:

    The NSA has just announced a new breakthrough in the fight on terrorism. New government studies have just proven that all terrorists have inhaled oxygen at some point in their lives. With this new information, the NSA can now restrict surveillance to only those people that have at some point in the past taken a breath.

    An NSA spokesman has been quoted as saying, "Now I know some of you may have inhaled at some point in your life. Many of us are guilty of that. But you don't need to worry. We are only going after the bad guys."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    W, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 11:38am

    Re:

    Technically the NSA is not allowed to spy within the borders of the United States. The FBI is however, and they are quite friendly with their buddies at the NSA.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Re:

    If they hate f****** Americans, they shouldn't f*** Americans.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Ender, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 12:57pm

    To put this in context

    He has been speaking to the supreme court about "tweaking" the first amendment to allow censorship of main stream media. Then he wont have to deal with these nuisances.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Bengie, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 1:09pm

    NSA's new slogal

    NSA, terrorizing the USA, so foreign terrorist don't have to. est 1952

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Brazenly Anonymous, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Location Tracking

    You really are deranged. Smart people have figured out this doesn't actually work.


    Certain phones have been determined to have secondary power sources. For those phones, you are correct. For others, that may not be the case. Either way, that secondary power source will still not last nearly as long as the primary battery would with the phone "off" but still talking to the tower.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Brazenly Anonymous, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 1:15pm

    Re: ERMAHGHERDED AGAIN!

    Last I checked, the Five Eyes included Canada. You might want to deal with the enemy in your own back yard.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 3:42pm

    Re: NSA's new slogal

    If it isn't already a t-shirt, you need to make it one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2013 @ 4:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Location Tracking

    With most people being unable to differentiate between the two, perhaps it's best to shield everything. Plus, there is always that third configuration where the phone's primary power source (battery) contains embedded secondary electronics - sufficient to periodically ping when pulled from the phone...

    Shield pouch that shit. It's not rocket science.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    The Real Michael, Dec 7th, 2013 @ 7:33am

    Re: Re:

    "Technically the NSA is not allowed to spy within the borders of the United States."

    Do you believe they actually give a damn?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    ThePrick, Dec 7th, 2013 @ 9:49am

    Just wanted to say

    I'm really glad in the reduced percentage of NSA articles in tech-dirt lately. I feel as though you guys took my earlier criticism seriously and to heart, and responded to it!

    My approval ratings of tech-dirt have gone significantly up!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    GEMont, Dec 7th, 2013 @ 6:09pm

    Business as usual...

    But it can be constrained by their boss, who happens to be the President. Will he actually do anything?

    ==========================================================

    Absolutely.
    Resident Obama will definitely do something.

    a) He will reward the NSA miscreants for a job well done, encourage them to work even harder and to gather even more dirt on everyone alive, and keep on lying to the American People on a regular basis about how he will insure oversight on the NSA and all the other 3-letter agencies, until his stand-in is (s)elected to office by the Cartel of Corporate Concerns. And go to a).

    Its nothing personal you understand.
    Just business as usual.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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