Simple Question: How Could President Obama Not Know That Ed Snowden Had The IG Report That Showed Widespread NSA Abuse?
from the absolutely-incredible dept
Among the many stunning things in the report from Barton Gellman and the Washington Post last night was the fact that it totally debunked President Obama’s statements from less than a week ago, arguing (1) that these programs were not abused
and (2) that no one was “listening in on people’s phone calls (see update below). Both of those appear to be untrue. Here were President Obama’s direct comments at last week’s press conference:
If you look at the reports, even the disclosures that Mr. Snowden’s put forward, all the stories that have been written, what you’re not reading about is the government actually abusing these programs and, you know, listening in on people’s phone calls or inappropriately reading people’s e-mails.
What you’re hearing about is the prospect that these could be abused. Now part of the reason they’re not abused is because they’re — these checks are in place, and those abuses would be against the law and would be against the orders of the FISC
And yet, the Inspector General’s report shows that just in the DC area alone there were thousands of violations and abuses, and some included intercepting
the content of tons of phone calls in the DC area. Update: In an update, the Washington Post admits that the report was about metadata, not actual content, and they had misreported this initially.
Now, I know that some will take the cynical stance that politicians will just lie with abandon and not care about it. But the fact is that while many (perhaps all) are less than truthful at times, they very, very rarely will bumble into making a major statement like this that can be shown to be flat out false in black and white like this in a setting where the remarks were carefully scripted. So here’s the thing I don’t understand: by this point, the government must at least have some idea of what documents Snowden got, even if they haven’t quantified all of them. They had to know that this Inspector’s General report was out there and there was a high likelihood that Snowden had leaked it as well.
So I honestly can’t figure out what the White House was thinking in having Obama make such a statement. You can argue that he offered a lie for convenience, and hoped that the truth wouldn’t come out, but the White House had to know that there was a very high probability of him being proven a liar very soon after making those statements, which then would undermine the entire purpose of the press conference. Yes, politicians lie, but they lie for strategic reasons, and here it seems like the White House can’t even think one step ahead in this chess game. Without last week’s press conferences, the disclosures from last night would still be stunning and damaging, but coming so soon after the press conference, they’re devastating.