Obama's Response To Too Much Secrecy About Surveillance… Is More Secrecy

from the you're-doing-it-wrong dept

Anita Kumar, a reporter at McClatchy, has a good article highlighting how, for all the talk by the Obama administration about how it needs to be more open and transparent about what the NSA is doing, in actuality, the administration has built up the walls even higher, increasing the levels of secrecy… including secrecy about how he’s responded to everything:

Obama has been gradually tweaking his vast government surveillance policies. But he is not disclosing those changes to the public. Has he stopped spying on friendly world leaders? He won’t say. Has he stopped eavesdropping on the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund? He won’t say.

Even the report by the group Obama created to review and recommend changes to his surveillance programs has been kept secret.

As is noted in the article, the administration, which likes to pretend it’s the most transparent in history, is actually one of the most secretive. Its attempts at transparency have almost exclusively been focused on where it can get the most political bang, not for what areas people expect the government to be transparent about — such as how it interprets the laws that allow the government to spy on everyone…

What’s incredible is that it appears that no one high up in the administration seems to recognize how this is a strategy that will almost certainly make things worse, not better. It may be how the administration is used to functioning, but it makes it much more difficult to believe anything that is said about a supposed “vigorous public debate” being held on the surveillance activities. It also means that as more leaks come out revealing more questionable practices, the constant backtracking and excuses will just destroy whatever credibility the administration has left on this issue. If, instead, it were to actually be transparent and simply reveal things like how it interprets the law, and allows for a real public discussion on these matters, that would actually result in some frank discussions that the administration seems terrified of actually having.

Extreme secrecy may seem like the easier short-term strategy, but it’s just digging an ever deeper hole that the administration is going to have to try to climb out of in the long-term. Hiding reality from a public that’s going to find out eventually is just making the problem worse.

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Comments on “Obama's Response To Too Much Secrecy About Surveillance… Is More Secrecy”

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40 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

you always write about reporters, and not the facts they reported !!! why is that ? lazy ?

it’s always the same “look at what this reported has reported about someone else talking about something else”.

it’s never originally sourced, you never write “look at what this person said”, it’s “look at what I have googled about this reporter saying something”..

here I will copy/paste it for you!!, after all its so much easier than doing your own work !!

why respond to a report who is responding to his/her opinion of what someone else things that is going on.

Do you not have access to what Obama has publicly stated, or are you just lazy ?

do you not see how this strategy almost always makes things worse and not better !!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

probably because he does not report on anything, he ‘reports’ on what other reports (or real reporters) are saying.

I find that disappointing, its not hard to search google for ‘terms’ and quote what other reporters are saying. It’s harder to actually do your own work, and report on things first hand.

It’s not masnicks fault, if he does not have those skills fair enough..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I guess these “skills” he seems to lack are hypnosis, seduction and/or pharmacology.

Have you read what he writes? You will notice how critical it is of the people he reports on. How would he ever get any access to them?

Journalism has evolved into the art of sucking up to the right people to get the “exclusive” stories. It is a kind of soft corruption in the “you be good to me, I be good to you”-department. Not sure “skills” are that much more important than the freedom to write without having to face those restrictions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: you always write about reporters, and not the facts they reported !!! why is that ? lazy ?

Its called credibility. I believe what I hear about obama when it comes from techdirt and slashdot.

I dont care anymore about the actual stories, only whether or not the truth is being told.

Techdirt/slashdot tell me the ending of the story in a way I am willing to believe. The original story has no value to me anymore, I dont care about why obama is a piece of crap, I already know that.

A lie from the president is a lie from the president, I dont give a crap anymore what the lie was about and I dont need the lie quoted or sourced for me. I only want to know if that idiot has been lying about stuff again.

Credibility (techdirt and slashdot) means you dont have to prove anything anymore because people know your telling the truth from your past actions. Something the president doesnt understand.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

…and you are always complaining about who is doing the write up and what they are doing wrong in your eyes. I notice you are not doing too well in the creditability department yourself with the continual refusal to actually engage in debate with those that call you out on your misstatements.

Face it, you have no creditability. That’s why you are constantly seeing your posts hidden by the community through the report vote. Speaking of which, have another.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I would love to engage Masnick in a debate on the issues, just as soon as he expresses his own opinion that is, I am not going to bother debating him on the comments from someone else.

There is little point in debating Mr Masnick about what someone else said, or their opinion. If I wanted to do that I would debate from the source of the original article.

If Masnick cant form his own arguments, he should not expect people to argue what others are saying and masnick is parroting.

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Re: Obummer

Thank God for term limits.

You could in fact argue the opposite… He could well be thinking “If I can just keep obfuscating exactly how bad things are for a couple more years, then it’ll be someone else’s problem when it blows up completely and it won’t be my legacy that looks shit”.
People/history only tend to remember the big bang of the dam letting go, not the trickling leak that eroded it from the inside in the first place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Obummer

Actually, I would say that is a very good point. Take the Clinton administration, which in most respects was very good, but his financial reforms and lessening of regulations on the banking industry may have very well led to the banking crisis in 2008. Could he have foreseen the corruption ahead of time, well, it’s debatable to some extent since it was so long after his office. I truly believe we can only see the effects of long term policy changes probably a decade or two after they leave office.

anonymouse says:

Re: Re: Obummer

NOI was sucked in by the lies that were told during the Obama presidential fight, well i was more so the first time than the second time.

He very clearly lied about many things i am not even going to try to go into them here, secrecy is one thing he has created more of and not less which is what he stated very clearly he would not do.

But this is something Obama inherited and something he is being very foolish about.

Saying all of that Obama has an opposition that very nearly took the country into a second great depression than what Bush created. Remembering that the Republicans stated very clearly that they would not allow him to do anything that mattered from the day he was elected the first time, and that they decided that was more important than the country and the people that live in it.

With this threat hanging over his head i am not surprised he dug in and has not been transparent, but he should have gone the other way…although saying that how much would it have destroyed his ability to actually monitor the organizations that wanted or want to harm the country.

I dont put all the responsibility of this on the republicans heads i believe Obama is clever enough that he could have released all the details now and this could have been fixed and not become his legacy.

Sadly he is going the wrong way for some reason and becoming less transparent , not that he has been very transparent to start with, and he is making a very big mistake that i am sure somewhere along the line in the next few years the republicans will use to damage him more than they have already.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’ve pointed out before that the statement Obama made about being glad to have a debate over the NSA spying and him actually doing that are two different things. This administration has the hallmarks of using National Security and Confidential Documents as the method to prevent these facts from coming out or from being challenged in court.

His intention of a debate ended when he stated he was willing. To actually get him in one will be dragging him out into it because he can no longer ignore it as damage control.

Jerrymiah (profile) says:

Obama the lying bitch

How can Obama tell the truth about all this spying? I don’t think he can. For that, he would have to ask authorization from his bosses in the military complex and I don’t believe they will let him do it. This administration is morally bankrupt. And since the Republican Party is totally disorganised and has no chance of winning the next election, why change things. The US is definitively in need of a third political party to stir thing up in Washington. But I don’t believe in this happening. American do not seem to believe in this solution and will never elect a third political force.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Well, there's that, but then ....

We have to remember, Obama is part black (I think I am also, and it affects how – I think – honkies see me. Just putting the shoe on the other foot, colorless folk. Do the obvious, don’t get mad, get even, like the House does).
So, ALL the politicians from the Bible Belt, as well as several other States, are going to attack him however they can, and I think he is “gun-shy”.

David says:

Re: Well, there's that, but then ....

It doesn’t matter whether he is black, pink, or yellow. He is a lying, equivocating disgrace.

He’s just as bad as Nixon regarding his character. Unfortunately, he has vastly more power than Nixon had, and government and judicial branch are far more mottled with systematic endemic corruption than Nixon’s were.

Nixon resigned before he could get impeached because breaking numerous laws.

Obama would not get impeached, the laws are in such a sorry state that he did not have to break all that many, and the Department of Justice is corrupted to the core (with its head Eric Holder running illegal arms deals and lying about it to congress under oath, and just getting a slap on the wrist for that) and more interested in blackmailing small guys (“plea deals”) than going after the big ones.

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