President Obama Forgets To Thank Edward Snowden For Surveillance Reform

from the wanna-try-that-again dept

No matter what you think of the passage of the USA Freedom Act, you should be able to agree that it wouldn't have been possible without Edward Snowden's contributions. Even many of the Senators who were against reform are grudgingly admitting this. On the floor of the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spat out that the USA Freedom Act was a "resounding victory" for Snowden as if it were some sort of insult. The only guy who seemed really confused by all of this was Rep. Pete King who somehow argued that the (very limited) reform bill spelled "defeat for ISIS, Edward Snowden and Rand Paul" which is not only wrong, but nonsensical.
However, perhaps more interesting is President Obama's statement on the passing of the USA Freedom Act, which snaps at those in Congress who delayed its passage and then "thanks" those who made it possible:
If you can't see that, it reads:
For the past eighteen months, I have called for reforms that better safeguard the privacy and civil liberties of the American people while ensuring our national security officials retain tools important to keeping Americans safe. That is why, today, I welcome the Senate's passage of the USA FREEDOM Act, which I will sign when it reaches my desk.

After needless delay and inexcusable lapse in important national security authorities, my Administration will work expeditiously to ensure our national security professionals again have the full set of vital tools they need to continue protecting the country. Just as important, enactment of this legislation will strengthen civil liberty safeguards and provide greater public confidence in these programs, including by prohibiting bulk collection through the use of Section 215, FISA pen registers, and National Security Letters and by providing the American people with additional transparency measures.

I am gratified that Congress has finally moved forward with this sensible reform legislation. I particularly applaud Senators Leahy and Lee as well as Representative Goodlatte, Sensenbrenner, Conyers, and Nadler for their leadership and tireless efforts to pass this important bipartisan achievement.
Notably missing from all that? Ed Snowden. Without him, none of this would have happened. And, it's beyond misleading for the President to pretend that he's the one who's been calling for this kind of reform for 18 months. First off, that was only in response to Ed Snowden revealing the program and, second, while some of the key reforms in here needed legislative action, he could have stepped up and done some of it on his own -- something his administration refused to do for 18 months.

At the very least, you'd hope that the President could acknowledge the simple fact that, like it or not, this entire process was kicked off because of Ed Snowden's actions. Instead, the President's chief spokesperson continues to demonize Snowden:
The fact is that Mr. Snowden committed very serious crimes, and the U.S. government and Department of Justice believe that he should face them. And that’s why we believe that Mr. Snowden should return to the United States where he will face due process, and he’ll have the opportunity -- if he returned to the United States -- to make that case in a court of law. But obviously our view on this is that he committed and is accused of very serious crimes.
Doesn't anyone in the White House recognize just how silly it is to claim that it's a "very serious crime" to reveal a program that two separate White House advisory boards, a district court and an appeals court, and multiple Senators aware of the details of the program have said is illegal and/or unconstitutional? And then to celebrate (very mild) reforms that only came about because of those actions, while at the same time calling those actions "very serious crimes"?

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  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 3 Jun 2015 @ 9:29am

    So, any bets on how long it'll take the DoJ to enter the NSA's offices and smash their computers to ensure all those programs aren't going to be used again?

    Yeah, that would be a sucker bet, wouldn't it.

    Anyone who believes this law will limit the NSA's ability to continue collecting "metadata" is fooling themselves.

    All this law did was to ensure the information isn't used in cases where "terrorists" are captured, hindered, blocked, killed, etc, etc.

    That $3 billion facility would be worthless if they followed the law.

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

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 3 Jun 2015 @ 10:49am

      Still have fantasies...

      ...in which it's retrofitted into a public-access computer science research center where, like the Google / NASA quantum computer, theirs can be accessed by students and scientists alike for their quantum-crunching needs.

      Not that that would ever happen in this reality, no.

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

    • icon
      radix (profile), 3 Jun 2015 @ 11:25am

      Re:

      I've been saying all along that making certain kinds of surveillance illegal doesn't mean anything. The alphabet agencies have a long history of going off-books and doing whatever the fuck they want. All this means is that when the collect the information, they just have to be marginally better at parallel construction so they never have to reveal it.

      The real solution isn't legislative, it's technological. Full, pervasive encryption of all communications is the only thing that can keep the prying eyes out.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2015 @ 11:31am

        Re: Re:

        "The alphabet agencies have a long history of going off-books and doing whatever the fuck they want."

        Actually that is not JUST their history, that is their actual mission purpose, they just do not state it.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 3 Jun 2015 @ 10:39am

    Doesn't anyone in the White House recognize just how silly it is to claim that it's a "very serious crime" to reveal a program that two separate White House advisory boards, a district court and an appeals court, and multiple Senators aware of the details of the program have said is illegal and/or unconstitutional?

    It's not silly at all. All the 'thanks' and prises are just lip service. In the end very little changes to an Executive that thinks that it is above the law. As noted before most illegal surveillance programs existed in spite of everything against them (including, lately, the public opinion in general) and they will keep existing under a plethora of creative names from now on. The Executive lied to the Congress (Clapper anyone?) with no punishment; withheld information from the public, the Judiciary and the Legislative; relied on their own personal interpretation of laws; ignored Human Rights that are accepted internationally....... All of it with no real consequence. This Act may be a tiny ant step forward but, really, without consequences for their acts they'll keep ignoring the law and judicial order whenever they see fit.

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

  • icon
    Chris ODonnell (profile), 3 Jun 2015 @ 10:55am

    The NSA has shown complete contempt of the law for years. Does anybody really believe the monitoring program was just shut down when the Patriot Act provisions expired?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2015 @ 10:57am

    Messenger: Your Majesty, the soldiers of the rival kingdom have infiltrated the walls of the castle, pretending to be guardians of your realm!

    King: I've spoken to my advisors and we've decided to stop them.

    ::battle ensues::

    King: My subjects, I am happy to announce that we have stopped the rival kingdom's plot and there will be a three day feast to celebrate this victory, at which we will burn the messenger who revealed the plot to us at the stake! Let the revelry begin!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2015 @ 11:35am

      Re:

      Damn... another good messenger gone.

      I swear we will never follow the "If I were an evil Overlord" as we should. We might even need to hide it lest they get smart about these things.

      Life is Irony... BURNING IRONY!

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

  • identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, 3 Jun 2015 @ 11:02am

    Ed Snowden should return to the US

    He should return so that he can be appointed head of the NSA. Why? Because he's the only NSA employee who has told the truth.

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

    • identicon
      Just Another Anonymous Troll, 4 Jun 2015 @ 5:15am

      Re: Ed Snowden should return to the US

      I'm pretty sure that there's a policy banning everyone who isn't a chronic liar from the top spot. Probably every other spot too.

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

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 3 Jun 2015 @ 11:16am

    The fact is that the U.S. government and the DOJ committed very serious crimes, and a hell of a lot of people all over the world believe that they should own up to them. And that’s why I believe that the NSA should be charged with war crimes in the United States where they will face due process, and they'll have the opportunity -- if they dare face the justice of the United States -- to make that case in a court of law. But obviously my view on this is that they committed and are accused of very serious crimes. Just sayin'.

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

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 3 Jun 2015 @ 5:00pm

      The NSA and DoJ should be charged...

      by a court of the people, or an international tribunal, for crimes against humanity.

      Both of them have vested interest in the other.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2015 @ 12:08am

        Re: The NSA and DoJ should be charged...

        The US government has been ignoring what the International World court has been saying for the last several decades.

        Former president Bush was charged with war crimes, funny how that little tidbit stays off the news

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2015 @ 11:18am

    Mike- you keep forgetting the sarcastic air quotes on "reform" and "freedom".

    they "re-formed" and legitamised the unconstitutional and illegal survailence meathods, and granted themselves the "freedom" to keep spying.

    At what point does the BS get so thick you check your shoes?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2015 @ 11:42am

    The MSM lets them get away with it

    Doesn't anyone in the White House recognize just how silly it is to claim that it's a "very serious crime" to reveal a program that two separate White House advisory boards, a district court and an appeals court, and multiple Senators aware of the details of the program have said is illegal and/or unconstitutional? And then to celebrate (very mild) reforms that only came about because of those actions, while at the same time calling those actions "very serious crimes"?


    The only reason these government officials continue to repeat all of these assertions is because the maintstream media eats it up and doesn't bother to call them out on it. If they would all collectively, with one voice, yell "BULLSHIT", these officials would soon learn that it's no longer acceptable to continuously repeat patently absurd statements. They'd have to make up another story.

    But, that's not the media we have right now. They are the entity that could keep a lot of this practice in check and they aren't doing their damn job.

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

    • identicon
      alternatives(), 8 Jun 2015 @ 6:08am

      Re: The MSM lets them get away with it

      The only reason these government officials continue to repeat all of these assertions is because the maintstream media eats it up and doesn't bother to call them out on it.

      Phff. The 'mainstream media' has enabled the people in power for years - longer than you've been alive.

      The ONLY reason the people know about Ed's documents is because of the ability of the Internet to route around the damage of what you call the MSM.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2015 @ 11:48am

    Can you blame that poor guy? Everyone knows that Freedom™ defeants IS in a day! Just a few more Freedom™ and Liberty™ until all the terrorists disappear!

    This is what most people in the US believes...

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 3 Jun 2015 @ 11:53am

    Every. Single. Time

    And that’s why we believe that Mr. Snowden should return to the United States where he will face due process, and he’ll have the opportunity -- if he returned to the United States -- to make that case in a court of law.

    Every single time someone makes this claim, people need to respond by pointing out two things:

    1. The treatment of previous whistleblowers, both in the court and out of it, by the government.

    2. The fact that under the law they would charge him with(Espionage Act), motive is not admissible.

    Snowden would absolutely not be allowed to 'make his case', it would come down to 'Did you leak these documents?', and since he clearly has, that would be it, guilty verdict, prison for the rest of his short life.

    It would not matter in the slightest why he did what he did, or that his doing so has led to significant debate(despite the government's wishes and efforts otherwise) on the matter, and rulings and investigations finding the NSA's actions both illegal and useless at their stated purpose, no, if they dragged him to court the only thing that would be ruled on is what he did, not why he did it, and they know it.

    As such it's high time people, and the press, start calling them out on their blatant lies in pretending he'd get anything even remotely resembling a fair trial or the ability to present his case.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2015 @ 12:09pm

      Re: Every. Single. Time

      Don't forget to add that Citizens are worthless fucking tards that know nothing of Jury Nullification and its purpose.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 3 Jun 2015 @ 12:39pm

        Re: Re: Every. Single. Time

        In large part because no-one in the 'justice' system wants them to know about it, and will give the boot to anyone who they suspect does prior to a trial.

        However, in this case I imagine it would be a moot point, I highly doubt he'd get a jury trial at all, so there would be no opportunity for such to occur.

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

      • identicon
        alternatives(), 8 Jun 2015 @ 6:49pm

        Re: Re: Every. Single. Time

        The ABA has a position to pull the bar card of any lawyer who'd make that pitch to a Jury. How, in the course of a trial, is a jury gonna find out with any lawyer who'd want to inform the Jury of nullification running the risk of not being able to practice?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2015 @ 11:53am

    New day, same old surveillance

    The alphabet agencies have not even allowed congress to oversee their illegal actions, do you really think something as insignificant as a law will stop their continued surveillance?

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

  • identicon
    HoleTurth, 3 Jun 2015 @ 12:42pm

    Are you suggesting the president took credit for someone else's work or claimed to have done differently than he actually did in the past? That is absurd. No politician has ever done that. Get real.

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

  • icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), 3 Jun 2015 @ 12:46pm

    Only elected officials and their appointees can create Freedoms.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2015 @ 12:52pm

    very carefully worded sentence

    this legislation will strengthen civil liberty safeguards ...by prohibiting bulk collection through the use of Section 215, FISA pen registers, and National Security Letters

    Now why would he feel the need to specify those 3 methods? Mr. Obama, would you care to elaborate on the other methods that Congress failed to prohibit?

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

  • identicon
    Giles Byles, 3 Jun 2015 @ 1:05pm

    Mr. Snowden made chronic, serial liars out of the IC & the Executive, right up to the top.  They doubled down on their lies after the revelations & are unable to stop.  Does Obama hold press conferences & take questions, even scripted ones, like in the old days?  When was the last time you saw that?  It's because he has become incapable of answering simple questions.

    Mr. Snowden ruined 'em all & they know it.  They have to live it every day they show up in public.

    The unmitigated hatred for Mr. Snowden is so intense that the only resolution for the PTB will be his ultimate destruction.

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

  • icon
    cerda (profile), 3 Jun 2015 @ 1:53pm

    Come to my lair

    "The fact is that Mr. Snowden committed very serious crimes,"

    This is telling. He is not a suspect. He is a criminal, already.

    "and the U.S. government and Department of Justice believe that he should face them."

    Meaning, I guess, "the US government and DoJ will do everything possible to have a court of law rubber-stamp our condemnation."

    "And that’s why we believe that Mr. Snowden should return to the United States where he will face due process, and he’ll have the opportunity -- if he returned to the United States -- to make that case in a court of law."

    Translation: "given we cannot ourselves be DA, jury, judge, and executioner we will leave the judge part for others."

    "But obviously our view on this is that he committed and is accused of very serious crimes."

    No matter what, he is going to go down. He *committed* the (rather foggy) crimes. We are also going to accuse him of anything else we can find, just in case.

    OK.

    Now, let me see if I really understand it:

    * he is considered a criminal, not a suspect;
    * he is going to be charged of espionage and treason, among many others;
    * he will not be able to have a public trial (see Guantanamo trials);
    * he will not have access to any documentation collected and used against him (see Guantanamo again);
    * he is risking almost certain death as a result.

    Now, why the hell would he put himself under the so-called mercy of the government? What am I missing here?

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

  • identicon
    FM Hilton, 3 Jun 2015 @ 1:53pm

    Another thing, too.

    No, I guess nobody in Congress or the President heard a while ago that the NY Times and the Guardian won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting Mr. Snowden's antics. They thought it brave and newsworthy enough to obtain the information he had and print it.

    The Guardian did so at considerable risk, to the point where the British government smashed up their computer as to end the leaks..problem was, everyone had the information by that time.

    Sometimes the truth is worth every damned risk one takes.

    I doubt Mr. Snowden regrets one thing he did, and he probably has had a few laughs about what has transpired since he did it.

    Revenge is a dish best served cold.

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

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 3 Jun 2015 @ 2:59pm

    freedom from the ideals the founding fathers espoused

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2015 @ 3:42pm

    Edward Snowden is a hero.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2015 @ 4:04pm

    Sometimes it doesn't matter what color they try to paint it, the truth is the truth. Swoden will go down in history for what he did.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2015 @ 9:53pm

    Reform= BS.

    It feels incredably disingenuous to call the "freedom act" a reform- it's only a reform if you pretend that the patriot act provisions wheren't forced to lapse- AND that they weren't just recently ruled as illegal.

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


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