Barack Obama: We Don't Have A Domestic Spy Program

from the a-rose-by-any-other-name dept

Let’s review what we know about the NSA’s domestic information collection program for a moment. First, we know that the NSA is indeed harvesting an insane amount of phone record metadata produced by the American people. We also know, thanks to the leaks about the xkeyscore program, that, even if it isn’t done intentionally, American email and internet communications are being slurped up by the NSA’s mega-maid vacuum as well. So, we have a wide-ranging capability to suck up a ton of metadata and plain old-fashioned data on Americans, all in the name of the gods of national security. Coupled with that, we now know that not only are officials working under the direction of the administration happy to flat-out lie to Congress (the people’s representatives), but congressional representatives supporting the NSA’s domestic programs are equally happy to keep other representatives in the dark about all of this as well. Boiled down to a single sentence: the US government is collecting phone records and searching through at least some internet communications records of the American people and then lying and/or obfuscating about the entire endeavor.

So what does that sound like to you? Like the US government has a domestic spying program? It sure sounds like that’s the case to me, but I’m not as smart as President Obama, who claims differently in an interview on The Tonight Show.

“We don’t have a domestic spying program,” claimed Obama, calling the controversial NSA programs “mechanisms that can track a phone number or an email address that is connected to a terrorist attack.”

Spying, a verb meaning to observe secretly, or to discover by close observation. Huh, sounds pretty spot on to me. Now, President Obama may not be under oath on The Tonight Show, but to go on public television and simply lie to the American people is the kind of thing that used to get you impeached. But beyond procedural politics, how stupid does he think we are? And, even if he can somehow convince the majority of Americans that collecting your communications data somehow isn’t spying on you, I wonder if such a frank statement might not come back to bite him in his Oval Office posterior, because Glenn Greenwald has already said that Snowden gave him at least 15,000 documents and more revelations are shortly on the way. El Presidente had damn well better be sure a damning document detailing further spying on the American people isn’t in there, or a serious discussion about his being fit for office is going to be in order.

But, because irony is a dish best served by a government official, the chief executive wasn’t quite done:

He confirmed that he would attend the G20 summit in St. Petersburg and that the US-Russia relationship is intact, despite disappointment with Moscow’s decision to grant asylum to Snowden. There is “still a lot of business that we can do with them, but there are times when they slip back into Cold War thinking,” he said.

Mm-mmm! Delicious irony! Someone certainly is slipping into a cold war mentality, but I think it might just be the country that is currently running the largest world-wide surveillance operation known in human history. This is the kind of thing that would have made a KGB agent’s pants explode in joy. So thanks, President Obama, for providing us not only a laugh, but a simple statement that could show your lies are even lie-ier than we already know they are.

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Comments on “Barack Obama: We Don't Have A Domestic Spy Program”

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Lord Binky says:

Re: Truth by technicality

He doesn’t limit the statement and uses the word ‘can’ instead of ‘only’. Do we need to put this in a Venn Diagram for them to see how poorly they are lying? Of course a system that tracks everyone tracks all the subsets, including the subset ‘terrorists’. Rewording the problem is not a valid justification.

RyanNerd (profile) says:

Two can play at this word game. Here's my comment to Obummer:

Notwithstanding the fact that you not calling the NSA a domestic surveillance program could conceivably encompass certain concomitant benefits of a marginal and peripheral relevance, there is a countervailing consideration of infinitely superior magnitude involving your personal complicity and corroborative malfeasance, with a consequence that the taint and stigma of your former associations and diversions have irredeemably and irretrievably invalidated your position and hopefully will culminate in public revelations and recriminations of your profoundly embarrassing and ultimately indefensible character.

Anonymous Coward says:

Twisting the meaning of words to be what they are not, laying claim that some program charged with this are that actually does something else, and the weasle words that say one thing but mean something else may be fine and dandy for those that think it makes it alright.

However to the average Joe, spying on what you do, be it mail, email, phone, or whatever is still plain out old spying. There won’t be enough difference between what he sees the government doing and what he calls it to be any difference at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Someone certainly is slipping into a cold war mentality, but I think it might just be the country that is currently running the largest world-wide surveillance operation known in human history.
This is the sad truth and I think US Corporations are going to feel the effects. It doesn’t matter how cheap a service provider like Google, Apple, Amazon, RackSpace, etc can host the services. If global markets don’t feel safe purchasing from US corporations, they will bring those services back home. Hopefully, it doesn’t end up like Post WWII when the massive exodus out of Berlin started up the Eastern Bloc building the wall.

Rekrul says:

Now, President Obama may not be under oath on The Tonight Show, but to go on public television and simply lie to the American people is the kind of thing that used to get you impeached.

You can’t impeach the first black president!!! Why? Because he’s BLACK!!! We have to support him no matter what because to do otherwise would be racist!!!

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

What is even more disturbing about the sarcastic statement is that it does hold to some truth. People I know actually admitted to voting for him just because he was African American. Heck, that is the only thing that got him a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 and due to his current leadership actions, the Nobel Committee is delaying the vote and granting of the Peace Prize.

ryfte says:

Was there ever any question?

So, Obama lied to the public, in the media. Hmm, is this news somehow? Was anyone really surprised at all in fact? I might ask instead; when has Obama *NOT* lied to the public? You’re going to get a much smaller number of situations that fit that parameter after all.

It would be amusing if it wasn’t true.

Anonymous Coward says:

His statement is factual – the US does not have a DOMESTIC spying program; it only has a program to spy on foreign nationals and known terrorists .. and anyone that they may directly or indirectly have contact with.
Of course, since, in the ‘Net, you can connect any two people in the world in an average of four “hops”, and that means everyone in the world – including every US citizen – is indirectly connected to foreign nationals or terrorists ….

Anonymous Coward says:

There should be public votes every year to strike down bad laws and governmental abuse of power and replace the sources if necessary.

Examples –
A vote on whether to keep the Patriot Act or something else.
A vote to decide if we need to fire any elected officials.

With the power kicked back to the public our elected officials would not be so fast to fuck up.

DerekCurrie (profile) says:

Suppressed: FISA Courts Find Their Own Behavior To Be Unconstitutional

Justice Department Fights Release of Secret Court Opinion Finding Unconstitutional Surveillance
Government lawyers are trying to keep buried a classified court finding that a domestic spying program went too far.
?By David Corn | Fri Jun. 7, 2013 12:22 PM PDT, Mother Jones

“In the midst of revelations that the government has conducted extensive top-secret surveillance operations to collect domestic phone records and internet communications, the Justice Department was due to file a court motion Friday in its effort to keep secret an 86-page court opinion that determined that the government had violated the spirit of federal surveillance laws and engaged in unconstitutional spying.
. . . .
in July 2012, Wyden was able to get the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to declassify two statements that he wanted to issue publicly. They were:

“* On at least one occasion the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held that some collection carried out pursuant to the Section 702 minimization procedures used by the government was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

* I believe that the government’s implementation of Section 702 of FISA [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] has sometimes circumvented the spirit of the law, and on at least one occasion the FISA Court has reached this same conclusion.”

Mr. President, We The People don’t tolerate destroying the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution OR being lied to about unconstitutional government crimes. We don’t care what party you puppets you. It’s time for your impeachment, you criminal liar.

limbodog (profile) says:

To my fellow Americans...

I apologize unreservedly. I voted for this guy. Not twice, thank the gods, but once was bad enough. The atrocious mess he has made of our civil rights, of whistleblowers pointing out criminal activity and being crushed for it, of playing the proverbial fiddle while the constitution burned… It’s partly my fault.

I used to be a card carrying republican. I left that party about 15 years ago when it became clear they were not remotely the ‘party of Lincoln’ anymore. I thought I might be better off voting for Democrats, but it is clearly not the case.

I know it is an empty gesture, but i will from this point on be voting only for independents and 3rd party candidates. At least that way my poor judgement will have minimal impact.

I hope you can all forgive me in time.

Jose_X (profile) says:


The US has a “warrantless search program” because a few exceptional circumstances exist (eg, being in hot pursuit) or because a few officers did not follow proper procedures at some point in time?

That seems to be what we are supposed to believe from the article, that if exceptions exist, that anyone saying we don’t have such a program is lying.

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