President Obama: NSA Surveillance Was Necessary To Make Sure Boston Bombings Weren't Part Of Bigger Plot

from the sorry-about-the-explosions... dept

Huffington Post has an article about how President Obama is meeting with many of the biggest Congressional critics of the NSA surveillance programs to discuss their concerns. However, on Wednesday he also met with larger groups in the House and Senate, where he continued to stand behind the programs. At the very bottom of the article is this stunning tidbit:

Obama reiterated his call for a “balance” between privacy and national security, but also invoked the Boston Marathon bombings as an example of where data collected by the NSA helped “identify whether there was a great plot.”

Right. So, after there was a bombing which no intelligence agency spotted beforehand, he’s now claiming that the NSA got to jump into action to find out that there wouldn’t be any more bombings because there was no bigger plot. We’re not even in the silly debunked realm of “preventing terrorist events” anymore. Now we’re at “Great work everyone! We found out that there’s no larger plot to worry about — sorry about the explosions and related mess.” Using the discovery of a lack of further threats after a bombing happened undetected to justify spying on all Americans? That’s crazy.

When that’s the best you can do to defend this program, something is clearly wrong. The program didn’t prevent the bombing. It may have allowed law enforcement to be more confident that there wasn’t a larger plot behind it slightly faster than regular police work did, but that’s not exactly a reason to violate everyone’s privacy, now is it?

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Comments on “President Obama: NSA Surveillance Was Necessary To Make Sure Boston Bombings Weren't Part Of Bigger Plot”

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Jay (profile) says:

Making it clear

Let me get this fucking straight…

I’m supposed to believe that the surveillance would help we, the people?

The security theater is ridiculous

It didn’t stop the Boston Bomber. It didn’t stop the Ft Hood bombing. It didn’t even stop the Washington shooter.
we shut down a city for Gods’ sake and that wasn’t what got the Tsarnaev. As soon as the police stopped their search a private citizen found the guy an hour later!

So now, our president, who supports these programs, wants to tell me that they needed these programs? NEEDED?!

No, you need a swift kick in the ass for lying to the American people. You need a better strategy than taking away the freedoms of the Constitution and only giving it to your financial backers. You need to learn from history and quit repeating it. You need to fire the people that have you wrapped around your finger as a public figure while you support their policies (looking at YOU Keith Alexander!). Finally, you need to grow a pair and face the music that the American public DOES. NOT. LIKE. BEING. SPIED. ON. BY. OUR. GOVERNMENT.

We did not sign up for constant surveillance. It didn’t work for the past decade. You used drone strikes in our name and we’re unhappy with that. You abused a war on an idea that was unpatriotic and created massive deaths in multiple countries. You cared more about your backers than the American people which you gave the worst debt to. You continued the Bush doctrine which essentially continued the problems that we’ve had since Reagan.

It’s time to END IT! The internet is our global democracy, not the plaything of politicians that don’t understand it. The government was created of, by, and for the people. Your surveillance is wrong, unconstitutional, and undemocratic. It cuts against political and patriotic lines and does nothing to help anything beyond the state to lose legitimacy. That is not the American way. It’s the way of tyrants and dictatorship.

out_of_the_blue says:

Re: Making it clear -- but you LEFT OUT A LOT!

@”the American public DOES. NOT. LIKE. BEING. SPIED. ON. BY. OUR. GOVERNMENT.” — Oh, but you LOVE being spied on by “friendly” Google! — Far more than you guys rant about can’t split the net into “good” and “bad” parts, you can’t let spying run wild in the “commercial” realm, because there’s NO separation under the current fascism. Whatever Google gets, the gov’t will soon have. Only way to reduce gov’t spying is to prohibit corporations TOO.

out_of_the_blue says:

Re: Re: Re: Making it clear -- but you LEFT OUT A LOT!

@ “Zakida Paul”, “Google = optional”

You’re just flatly wrong. And actually, you Techdirt fanboys are quite the minority in viewing Google as benign. Couple recent of the endless examples:

‘Quit Google, Facebook’ suggests tech expert as surveillance scandal deepens

NSA is quietly writing code for Google?s Android OS

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Making it clear -- but you LEFT OUT A LOT!

You’re just flatly wrong. And actually, you Techdirt fanboys are quite the minority in viewing Google as benign

Google is totally optional. You’re just flatly wrong if you’re asserting otherwise.

Also, I wonder why it is that you think Google is generally viewed as benign by commenters here? There’s little indication of that. Even people here who have said that they use Google’s services have mentioned that they’re aware that they’re making a trade-off in doing so.

The Real Michael says:

Re: Making it clear

Because cue drone flying overhead
They militarized police swarming a suburban home
Care armored vehicles rolling down the street
So Blackhawk helicopters looking for someone
Much TSA patting down old woman
About NSA snooping on “private” conversation
Your DMCA takedowns and draconian copyright expansion
Security DHS stockpiles 2 billion rounds of ammo and no-hesitation targets

Heidi says:

Re: Making it clear

It’s ironic how people gripe about all the events NSA intelligence hasn’t prevented – when we only hear about a fraction of the threats they have prevented. Many threats are neutralized based on this intelligence gathering.

Personally, I don’t understand what people are hiding. I don’t care if the government sees what I do, because I’m not doing anything suspicious. What are you hiding?

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Making it clear

Many threats are neutralized based on this intelligence gathering.

Really? Put forth some concrete evidence of this please, cuz’ I ain’t seen any.

Personally, I don’t understand what people are hiding. I don’t care if the government sees what I do, because I’m not doing anything suspicious.

Oh really? So you would have absolutely no problem inviting all of us over to look at your browser history? Or checking out your entire search history? Or reading your medical history? Or your online shopping history? Or your bank balances? Or keeping tabs on all your phone calls and exact locations where you made them?

And when we get done we can compile all that info into a complete picture of everything you’ve ever done online and fairly comprehensive picture of everything you’ve done offline too.

It doesn’t matter if you are doing anything “suspicious”. It matters when you are doing things online that you consider private and personal.

What are you hiding?

I personally don’t consider it “hiding”. It’s about protecting my rights to privacy and anonymity.

Zakida Paul (profile) says:


The NSA has paid GCHQ ?100m over 3 years for access and influence over UK intelligence gathering.

It appears that the ‘special relationship’ is all about the US spying on UK and the UK spying on Americans, and sharing the information between each other.

Can you just hurry up and add another star to the US flag for your 51st state (the UK)?

Anonymous Coward says:

If it had been part of a wider plot, it would have been obvious from other incidents happening long before the NSA could search the data. Terrorists involved in a wider plot, like the London tube and bus bombing, make sure everything happens within a short tine because the first incident will cause a lot of police and security service activity. The increased security level alone would make life more difficult for others to carry out an attack with any delay after the first.
The data would only have helped in a psot mortem analysis of the plot, not in preventing closely spaced in time attacks.

Transmitte (profile) says:

Hrm, This reminds me of the old saying “Don’t piss on my back and tell me its raining”.

I don’t appreciate being lied to, especially in the interests of “national security”, that just makes me think of that dumb ass movie of the same name, and is just about as brilliant.

Just stop, please stop the bald face lying, you’re busted on it and continuing to lie about it just makes it worse. Oh wait, he’s out at the end of this term, why should he care?

Anonymous Coward says:

“President Obama: NSA Surveillance Was Necessary To Make Sure Boston Bombings Weren’t Part Of Bigger Plot”

And yet, this same apparatus could not locate the main suspect of said bombing without shutting down a city and turning it into a warzone.

And even then they couldn’t find him. It had to be a civilian to spot him.

Who the fuck do they think they are fooling?

Anonymous Coward says:

This idea we must turn into a surveillance state just in case there are terrorists and they do something is over with as far as I am concerned. These yoyos that voted against the Amish proposed bill as well as those that voted this mess in without any real sort of oversight will not get my vote this coming election. Period.

So far everything coming from the executive branch and the security side are lies unless they’ve been caught red handed at it. Even after they are caught with their fingers in the pie, they are still trying to cover up just how bad it is.

None of this spying business has stopped any terrorists in their acts. Once again we have direction on just how badly the government can spend tax payers money and get diddly squat back for it.

It’s long past time to end this. It’s also time we figure out how to impeach Obama over this using the Espionage Act to punish the very whistle blowers he claimed at the start to want to protect.

There is so much wrong with this government that it is showing up in lack of education, lack of general well being of the citizens and lack of functional jobs. It’s high time we changed the direction of this country.

Anonymous Coward says:

what absolute fucking bull shit! when the leader of a nation whose security forces have been caught up to no good, can only come out with the most ridiculous statement like this, everyone knows it’s crap! this is trying to condone the completely unnecessary actions being carried out on ordinary people! the only reasons this was going on was
a) because the security services were trying to justify the extortionate amount of money it was being funded with
b) because ordinary people who have nothing to hide, are a damn site easier to spy on than the real people who take whatever precautions they deem necessary to remain uncaught! like everyone that doesn’t take precautions, they would be well and truly fucked, with nowhere to turn to!

Dreddsnik says:

@Fish ….

“So, after there was a bombing which no intelligence agency spotted beforehand, despite repeatedly being warned about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev….”

If that’s true, it makes a bit more sense ( in THEIR eyes ) to just sit on it. They need incidents big enough to justify what they want, yet not so big that they create a massive panic. Not too hot or too cold … Just right.

Lurker Keith says:

Re: Re:

That was reported on here:

[blockquote][I]A spokeswoman for the Boston Police Department said the Boston Regional Intelligence Center [] was never notified about the FBI investigation.

In response, FBI supervisory Agent Jason Pack e-mailed a statement suggesting that state and local officials had ample access to information about the Tsarnaev investigation in 2011, through their participation in an FBI unit in Boston, the Joint Terrorism Task Force.[/I][/blockquote]

The FBI even interviewed one of the Boston terrorists, probably in 2011.

It’s insane to claim the domestic spying is of any use, when knowing about a terrorist before hand wasn’t enough to prevent his attack.

Anonymous Coward says:

If it didn’t stop the first bombing, what would make us believe it would stop any future bombings related to the Boston Marathon Bombing or otherwise? They already demonstrated their failure in stopping something on the scale of 9/11 despite having all these mechanisms in place.

We are not reassured. If anything, we have even less faith in this system than before.

bioforge (profile) says:

Never thought I would say this, but I’m embarrassed as an American. I mean really, we look worse then a bunch of monkeys fracking a football. I can’t believe my fellow Americans let this stuff fly and go unchecked. Its bad enough to shut down a city, terrorize its people, and then not even find the guy. But now the President wants to claim this as a win for the greater good NSA? I am at a lack of words.

Rikuo (profile) says:

So let me understand what Obama has said and revealed. His intelligence community utterly failed in preventing the Boston Bombings, despite the fact all these spy programs were in place at the time.
Yet somehow, we’re to trust and believe him when he says that these very same programs, which have been demonstrated to have failed, somehow prevented further bombings related to the initial ones?

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s like that the NSA went into “Oh shit the terrorists are at the gates!” mode immediately after the Boston Bombings, so the chance that they actually di prevent any further bombings directly connected to the two brothers are (purely speculating) somewhere between 59 to 95 percent.

Prior to the Boston Bombings it was more like:

NSA employee 1: “hey, this guy looks suspicious, and the guys over in Russia are telling us that he might be a terrorist. Shouldn’t we pass this along to the other agencies?”

employee 2: “Nah, it’s probably nothing. Let’s go get drunk and sing karaoke instead!”

But that’s government competence for you. Only useful AFTER the crap hits the fan.

Anonymous Coward says:

What I am hearing is that the NSA has been collecting our data but couldn’t foil the plot but then used the data to determine that it wasn’t part of a bigger plot. Sure seems like they could have gotten the necessary court order to get the data legally when they needed it.

The issue is having to prove they need the data, and focusing on what data they need before they get it….that’s the way this system is supposed to work…not let me have everything so I can fish.

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:


Mike, the proof is right there in front of your eyes. How can you say that the NSA’s surveillance is not working? Have we had another 9/11 since 9/11? No. Was there a terrorist attack in the US yesterday or the day before? No. Clearly the surveillance is working.

Also, I have not been attacked by a tiger, not even ONCE, since I started carrying around this anti-tiger rock.

This is not rocket surgery folks, just look at the proof!

T says:

Re: Re: Re:

“9/11 was the NSA’s fault…” 9/11 was the “New Pearl Harbor” quoted from the Project For A New American Century. Read it. They needed the attack to get support from the flock which you graze with to justify invading other countries which never attacked in the first place and to spread America’s and its allies military all over the world. They got just that. Coincidence. No, actually, it wasn’t. I wouldn’t normally get personal with another porter but it’s 12 years on and you are still spreading BS about why the attack happened. It is your cognitive dissonance which forces the rest of us to have to continue fighting for the truth to come out and I’m tired of it. Do the research yourself and stop allowing others to hand your opinion to you. If you did look, you would see that the 9/11 story has 100 and more things wrong with it. It is so obvious and sloppy. It would take weeks to educate you on it so you’ll have to take the initiative. Now you have drones flying over your head and your gov spying on you at the very least. It can only get worse if light is not shone on that fable. It is an open trauma for everyone. There hasn’t been closure. Start with building 7. Look it up and see with your own eyes what happened. It will lead you to more which will help you realize how we got here and why. Peace.

blue says:


it is amazing to me that the nazi nobama can say its necessary to spy on american people …we are a free country ….not what asshole wants …i think obama should be arrested and charged with crimes against america , perjury, and be held accountable for his actions ….you can tell what an idiot he is….he has more scandals then any other president…….no one lies like him …and by the way his wife is a racist rag….

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