This is yet another crisis file, that was written two days after
speech on the NSA. The following is a selection of eight files that
deal with the NSA or
Obama, and one that deals with the NYT's columnist David Brooks.
I think items 1, 3 and 7 are best, but you are free to disagree. Also,
this is uploaded some hours earlier than is usual.
and Maher Clash Over Edward
To start with, an
article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truth Dig:
In fact, there is little
in the article, and it mostly introduces this clip, with Greenwald and
I do want to say
something about Bill Maher, that relates to the beginning:
“I agree with what
he says,” host Bill Maher said to guest Glenn Greenwald in a
conversation about NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden on HBO’s “Real
Time” on Friday. “And then he says something totally batsh*t.”
This I really do not
understand, and my reasons are these: (1) While I am quite certain I do
not agree with everything Snowden says, he has not said
anything so far
that is in any way "totally
batsh*t", and (2) also,
given Obama's speech Friday, while he may not have said "something totally batsh*t", he certaintly
came much closer to it than anything Snowden has said, indeed
especially by not mentioning many things he ought to have mentioned,
and by hardly doing anything - see below - while he had the chance:
Presiident Obama is the president of the NSA much rather than of the
American people, and he wants it that way, and is proud of it.
2. Rating Obama’s NSA Reform Plan
Next, an article by Cindy Cohn
and Patrick Higgins, who did keep the scores on the scorecard I mentioned two days ago, which is nice:
You can check out the
article and the reasoning yourself: Here is just a copy of the
scorecard, followed by a small comment by me:
The comment I want to
make is that I do not take the reforms as seriously as do Cindy
and Patrick Higgins, and my main reasons for this are that (1) I have
learned very well over the last five years that Obama is a very crafty propagandist,
and one must check and doublecheck his sayings for the
meaning that is often hidden, while (2) I think that anyway most of
these changes are cosmetic: He really did not change anything
fundamentally, and what he wants is that all of America continues being
spied upon by his good friends of the NSA.
In any case, though,
a score of 3.5 out of 12 is bad.
On Friday, three new
co-sponsors joined the 120
have already backed the so-called USA Freedom Act, but their reform
bill faces tough competition from rival lawmakers who claim the
president's broad support for the NSA favours separate efforts to
protect its powers.
forcefully defended the NSA on Friday, in a speech that
outlined a series of surveillance reforms but stopped well short
of demanding an end to the bulk collection of American phone data,
suggesting instead that efforts should be made to find alternatives
which do not involve the government holding a database.
Again I protest the
"forcefully": Cleverly, yes; ambiguously, certainly; propagandistic,
surely - but not "forcefully", by my lights. But OK - I merely
point it out (and would have agreed, if there were good reasons, even
though I disagree with the contents).
Here is a little more:
“Some of his proposals I
agree with, others I don’t. But the bottom line is real reform cannot
be done by presidential fiat,” said the Republican congressman Jim
Sensenbrenner, an author of the Patriot Act who is leading bipartisan
reform efforts with the Democratic senator Patrick Leahy.
“[Our] bill would make
permanent the good intentions of the president and address some of the
omissions in his speech where Americans’ liberties need greater
protection. I remain confident that if brought to the floor for a vote,
the USA Freedom Act will pass with broad bipartisan report.”
OK. Whether his confidence
is justified remains to be seen, but there is bi-partisan
opposition, and Sensenbrenner is right that "real reform cannot be done by presidential fiat".
Here is a final bit, from
quite a lot more:
Republicans in Congress
were more blunt in their assessment of the speech. “It's not about who
holds it, I don't want them collecting Americans' information,” Senator
Rand Paul told CNN.
groups were also more critical, arguing that there was little substance
behind the president’s rhetoric.
“The big-picture takeaway
from today's speech is that the right to privacy remains under grave
threat both here at home and around the world," said Steven
Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA.
“President Obama’s surveillance adjustments will be remembered as music
on the Titanic unless his administration adopts deeper reforms.”
This is not a long article,
and I only quote its concluding paragraph:
Disingenuous as it
is, this bait and switch may yet work in a political culture based on
manufacturing and spreading panic, regardless of whether that panic has
anything to do with reality. If, though, this old trick doesn’t work—if
evidence trumps the paranoia—then we will have reason to finally feel a
bit optimistic. We will be able to celebrate not only serious
legislative reforms of the NSA, but also a more mature political
culture that is able to prioritize facts over fear.
Actually, all this depends
on an if, that I do not see many reasons to consider satisfied. But
Sirota is right that the president, and Feinstein, and Alexander have
only scare tactics, propaganda and "Trust Us!" in reply to the
criticism that they have been laying and defending a rising American
6. Snowden's Actions Overwhelmingly
Next, a brief article by
the Common Dreams staff on Common Dreams:
Obama expressed no appreciation for the actions of 30-year-old Edward
Snowden during his speech on his NSA reforms on Friday, those who
support the former NSA contractor turned whistleblower say the speech
itself was all the necessary evidence needed to establish his
I think that is
mostly correct, in the sense that there would have been no presidential
speech without many articles, and there would not have been manuy
articles without Edward Snowden.
There are also fairly
long quotes by McClatchy and Huffington Post in the article.
7. Effort to 'Normalize' NSA Spying,
'Mollify Public' Rebuked
a good and clear article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
Appearing on a
MSNBC morning news show ahead of President Obama's Friday speech on
National Security Agency surveillance reforms, former NSA chief Michael
Hayden explained that the president's goal for the day would not be to
announce real reforms that would change the behavior of the
intelligence community, but suggested a different purpose.
Obama's mission for the
public address, said Hayden on Morning Joe, would not be to
change what the NSA has been doing, but rather, he said, "to make
people more comfortable about what it is that the intelligence agencies
correct from Hayden's point of vew, and also quite correct as an
adequate description of Obama's speech.
indeed, from Hayes and Greenwald:
According to analyst and
MSNBC host Chris Hayes, who has given platform to aggressive critiques
of the NSA bulk data collection under Obama, the president seemed to
use his speech as a way "to normalize the practice off bulk collection"
to a national audience.
And in his response,
journalist Glenn Greenwald described the speech and Obama's "reform"
proposals "as little more than a PR attempt to mollify the public."
is also this, from Assange:
These "national security
whistleblowers have forced this debate," said Assange. "This president
has been dragged—kicking and screaming—to today's address. He's been
very reluctant to make any concrete reforms, and unfortunately what we
see today is very few concrete reforms. What we see is kicking of the
ball into the congressional grass; kicking it off into panels of
lawyers who he will appoint and who will report back to him."
"We heard a lot of lies
in this speech by Obama," said Assange who challenged the president's
repeated assertion that the NSA has not abused its authorities. "Even
the FISA court has said again and again, it has done just that."
And this, from Greenwald
In a tweet shortly after
the speech, Greenwald, addressed what he thinks is one of the core
issues related to bulk surveillance and privacy protections:
The key question: will
the NSA continue to monitor hundreds of millions of people without any
suspicion? Under Obama's proposals: yes.
The major problem with
Obama's announced approach, according to Rattner, is that the president
has acknowledged the government shouldn't be allowed to employ the
mantra "trust us" and has agreed that privacy protections should be
"built in" to the legal framework of NSA surveillance. But, observed
Rattner, "when we get to the actual speech, [what Obama is] really
saying is: 'Trust us, trust us, trust us.'"
Greenwald's tweet was
quite correct, and so is Rattner's observation.
And there is this:
"I want people to think,"
said [Senator Bernie - MM] Sanders, "If Nixon had the resources and the
technology that now exists, think of what he would have done with it."
That was a key question,
in fact, that ACLU's executive director Anthony D. Romero had asked
ahead of the speech. “Keeping the storage of all Americans’ data in
government hands and asking ‘lawmakers to weigh in’ [... ] is passing
the buck – when the buck should stop with the president. If Congress
fails to act on this matter, as it has on other critical policy issues,
President Obama will effectively be handing off a treasure trove of all
our private data to succeeding presidents – whether it is Chris
Christie, Mike Huckabee, or Hillary Clinton.”
Quite so. There is
considerably more, and this is a good article you should read all of.
8. Obama Lectures Those Outraged by NSA
Surveillance Programs in Speech Announcing Reforms
Next, an article by Kevin Gosztola on Common Dreams:
The president delivered a
speech on changes his administration would support to National Security
Agency programs and policies, but what most stood out was not the
announced reforms. It was how the speech focused on him and what he had
done and how it seemed like he was lecturing Americans who have been
outraged by what they have learned about massive government
surveillance in the past six months.
President Barack Obama seemed
deeply offended that anyone would think he had done an inadequate
job or had enabled surveillance state policies.
Yes, indeed - though I am sure this was appearance only.
But what Gosztola says about Obama's speech is quite correct, and he
continues with quoting three brief paragraphs, in which Obama says at
least 11 times "I".
There is quite a lot more, and Gosztola also does not
use the word "forceful" at all, and he does give a good analysis.
9. David Brooks’ Utter Ignorance About
Inequality Finally, for those interested
in David Brooks, who writes in the NYT, and seems an eager lackey of
the rich, here is Robert Reich's take of one of his recent columns:
Brooks, who personifies the oxymoron “conservative thinker” better than
anyone I know, displays such profound ignorance that a rejoinder is
necessary lest his illogic permanently pollute public debate. Such is
the case with his New York Times column
last Friday, arguing that we should be focusing on the “interrelated
social problems of the poor” rather than on inequality, and that the
two are fundamentally distinct.
Yes, indeed - and clearly the
"problems of the poor" are a result of their being poor, which are
problems of inequality. Reich continues with explaining why Brooks just
does not face the facts, and ends as follows:
Unequal political power
is the endgame of widening inequality — its most noxious and nefarious
consequence, and the most fundamental threat to our democracy. Big
money has now all but engulfed Washington and many state capitals —
drowning out the voices of average Americans, filling the campaign
chests of candidates who will do their bidding, financing attacks on
organized labor, and bankrolling a vast empire of right-wing
think-tanks and publicists that fill the airwaves with half-truths and
That David Brooks,
among the most thoughtful of all conservative pundits, doesn’t see or
acknowledge any of this is a sign of how far the right has moved away
from the reality most Americans live in every day.
Again, this seems to me all
correct, although I am quite convinced that Brooks does not acknowledge
this, rather that he doesn't see this: He sees and rejoices, and then
starts lying, so that he can keep rejoicing.
Here it is necessary to insist, with
Aristotle, thay the governors do not rule, or at least, should
not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part
of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and
It is more proper
that law should govern than any of the citizens: upon the same
principle, if it is advantageous to place supreme power in some
particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and
the servant of laws.
note the whole file I
quote from is quite pertinent.)
(that I prefer
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which
is a disease I have since 1.1.1979: