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Obama Praises NSA But Promises To Rein It In 306

Posted by samzenpus
from the good-job-now-stop-it dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Josh Gerstein writes on Politico that President Barack Obama told Chris Matthews in an interview recorded for MSNBC's 'Hardball' that he'll be reining in some of the snooping conducted by the NSA, but he did not detail what new limits he plans to impose on the embattled spy organization. 'I'll be proposing some self-restraint on the NSA. And...to initiate some reforms that can give people more confidence,' said the President who insisted that the NSA's work shows respect for the rights of Americans, while conceding that its activities are often more intrusive when it comes to foreigners communicating overseas. 'The NSA actually does a very good job about not engaging in domestic surveillance, not reading people's emails, not listening to the contents of their phone calls. Outside of our borders, the NSA's more aggressive. It's not constrained by laws.' During the program, Matthews raised the surveillance issue by noting a Washington Post report on NSA gathering of location data on billion of cell phones overseas. 'Young people, rightly, are sensitive to the needs to preserve their privacy and to retain internet freedom. And by the way, so am I,' responded the President. 'That's part of not just our First Amendment rights and expectations in this country, but it's particularly something that young people care about, because they spend so much time texting and-- you know, Instagramming.' With some at the NSA feeling hung out to dry by the president, Obama also went out of his way to praise the agency's personnel for their discretion. 'I want to everybody to be clear: the people at the NSA, generally, are looking out for the safety of the American people. They are not interested in reading your emails. They're not interested in reading your text messages. And that's not something that's done. And we've got a big system of checks and balances, including the courts and Congress, who have the capacity to prevent that from happening.'"
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Obama Praises NSA But Promises To Rein It In

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  • Next time.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06, 2013 @08:12AM (#45617737)
    Vote Ron Paul and squash the NSA, the Fed, and all these stupid agencies that seek to turn our world into 1984 (which some people seem to take it like it was a documentary).
    • Re:Next time.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tyler Durden (136036) on Friday December 06, 2013 @10:55AM (#45619017)

      Well sure, but then you'd also do away with any existing protections from disproportionate power of the wealthy and corporations. So you'd be trading something out of a George Orwell novel to the modern equivalent of a work by Charles Dickens.

      There has to be a middle ground

  • Self-restraint (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erikkemperman (252014) on Friday December 06, 2013 @08:16AM (#45617757)

    Aka, tying the cat to the bacon. Clearly self-regulation is the way to go, after all it worked wonders for the financial sector.

    • And don't forget the reassuring warm fuzzy feeling one gets from the oversight of the courts and Congress... Evidently, we were shook up over nothing.
      • And don't forget the reassuring warm fuzzy feeling one gets from the oversight of the courts and Congress... Evidently, we were shook up over nothing.

        Oversight as in... Oops we forgot to oversee this here TLA.

      • Re:Self-restraint (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JackieBrown (987087) <dbroome@gmail.com> on Friday December 06, 2013 @09:26AM (#45618217)

        The problem is that Congress is basically powerless now (and you can argue whose fault that is.) They can make any recommendation they want from their oversight hearings, but it carries no weight when the president doesn't care and selectively enforces what he wants.

        It seems that simply saying "I take full accountability" counts as some kind of action nowadays.

        • Re:Self-restraint (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Xiver (13712) on Friday December 06, 2013 @09:39AM (#45618359)
          When the executive branch of government refuses to enforce the law, the legislative branch's only real recourse is impeachment. Is that what you are advocating?
          • Re:Self-restraint (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Gr8Apes (679165) on Friday December 06, 2013 @10:38AM (#45618885)
            The legislative branch could start by jailing Alexander and Clapper for contempt of Congress. No trial needed. They lied to Congress, it's on video recorded for the world to see. Then they can just start going down the list. The real problem there is there are a few Congress people that are on the NSA's side, and are in the committees that are supposed to have oversight. So they'll claim they knew, even when they didn't, neutering the rest of Congress. And everything keeps going the way it is.
    • Re:Self-restraint (Score:5, Informative)

      by TWiTfan (2887093) on Friday December 06, 2013 @08:36AM (#45617881)

      "I promise to fight hard against all those programs which I helped create!", says politician. Film at eleven.

    • Strawman (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06, 2013 @08:38AM (#45617899)

      He is (of course) right that they're not spying "directly" on the American people, with an actual human being reading your emails, recording your online activities, and tracking your physical movements. But that's just a clever strawman. The goal is not to "watch" you (as your nosey neighbor does) -- the goal is to record you (as a computer would). The ultimate objective is to build a permanent profile on each and every citizen, so that IF and WHEN they have the political motive to prosecute you, all they have to do is press a few buttons, review your history, and select from any one of the thousands of laws available to prosecute you -- most of which are victimless crimes (crimes against the state), not crimes against other individuals.

      • so that IF and WHEN they have the political motive to persecute you, all they have to do is press a few buttons, review your history, and select from any one of the thousands of laws available to prosecute you -- most of which are victimless crimes (crimes against the state), not crimes against other individuals.

        Substitution is also true. cheers,

    • Clearly self-regulation is the way to go, after all it worked wonders for the financial sector.

      if you're asking for more government regulation and transparency I'm all for it...

    • by neonv (803374)

      A big problem with government is the lack of a higher entity to regulate. The best mechanism to date is the voter entity to remove politicians from office if they don't like something in government. However, that is extremely indirect. It's difficult and unwise to remove a politician over a single issue, and difficult for voters to change the issue directly. Representative democracy is the best form of government to date, but it has shortcomings.

      One good aspect of doing business in the private sector is

  • by Vermonter (2683811) on Friday December 06, 2013 @08:18AM (#45617769)
    ...but one day they might decide they are, and there is nothing in place to stop them from doing that. Does President Obama really not understand why people are outraged? And no, you don't really have a system of checks and balances- you have the illusion that you do. What happens when people in the NSA does something wrong/unconstitutional? Do they get fired? Arrested? I didn't think so.
  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Friday December 06, 2013 @08:18AM (#45617771)

    ...when he starts out by saying that the NSA spying on US Citizens is all reasonable and proper, since they don't actually read your emails or listen to your phone calls.

    • ...and seeing that I am not a US citizen, I really don't appreciate the NSA and GCHQ snooping and will do my damndest to resist.
    • by yakovlev (210738) on Friday December 06, 2013 @09:31AM (#45618277) Homepage

      'The NSA actually does a very good job about not engaging in domestic surveillance, not reading people's emails, not listening to the contents of their phone calls. Outside of our borders, the NSA's more aggressive. It's not constrained by laws.'

      I read this as a VERY carefully worded line that rather than saying "the NSA is actually pretty reasonable" really says "if you think what we're doing in the US is bad, you should see what we're doing overseas." It practically comes out and says that they're doing all of those things "outside" the US borders. He also implies that all of the metadata collection that is done domestically is just fine.

      Based on this, I would suspect that some program that the NSA agrees costs more that the intelligence gathered is worth is going to be cut, but overall nothing is going to change.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    And we've got a big system of checks and balances, including the courts and Congress, who have the capacity to prevent that from happening.'"

    Because that's working wonderfully, isn't it?

  • How is the NSA not restrained by law when operating outside the USA? Does this mean that there are no laws outside the USA? Does this mean I can finally kill anyone I want without repercussions, because I don't live in the USA? Europe, fuck yeah!
    • How is the NSA not restrained by law when operating outside the USA?

      He meant "US law" when he said "law". The NSA is not bound by US law outside the USA.

      Which is pretty much true of EVERY spy agency in the world, if you (properly) substitute "country of origin" for "US"....

      • by Desler (1608317)

        He meant "US law" when he said "law". The NSA is not bound by US law outside the USA.

        Which is total bull. US Citizens have been arrested for laws US they've broken outside of the US. Also, people who aren't even citizens of the US have been extradited for breaking US laws.

        • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Friday December 06, 2013 @08:38AM (#45617897)

          True, although that's not the default. Extradition, mostly for computer crimes, is based on the somewhat dumb theory that if something happens to an American computer, the perpetrator was "in" the USA for legal purposes, even if he or she has never actually visited the USA and has nothing to do with the country. There is also a small category of explicitly extraterritorial laws; for example, it's illegal, under U.S. law [wikipedia.org], for an American to travel to another country for the purpose of underage sex, as defined in the U.S. statute. Most laws aren't extraterritorial, though. If you murder someone in Germany, you won't be prosecuted under American homicide law, but German law. And if you smoke pot in a coffee shop in Amsterdam, you aren't violating U.S. drug laws.

          • by Black LED (1957016) on Friday December 06, 2013 @09:19AM (#45618151)

            Extradition, mostly for computer crimes, is based on the somewhat dumb theory that if something happens to an American computer, the perpetrator was "in" the USA for legal purposes, even if he or she has never actually visited the USA and has nothing to do with the country.

            Funny how the NSA doesn't hold themselves to the same standard when they infiltrate systems outside of the USA.

        • by Desler (1608317)

          Just to add, as a US citizen go work in another country but don't follow the US tax laws and see just how much you are not bound by US laws when you return. I'm sure you'll be surprised by how much that statement is false when the IRS comes a knocking...

          • I have been doing that for years without concern. I pay taxes to the government where I live, not to a place where I gain nothing from it. It would be very difficult for the IRS to actually prove that I had any taxable income.

            Of course my case might be a bit different because I don't intend to ever return to the US.
            • by Desler (1608317)

              If you don't intend to return then likely you won't face any issues. But if, for example, you're a government contractor stationed in a foreign country and don't follow the tax code you will be smacked quite hard upon your return. And the relevant link from the IRS [irs.gov]:

              If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, the rules for filing income, estate, and gift tax returns and paying estimated tax are generally the same whether you are in the United States or abroad. Your worldwide income is subject to U.S. income tax, regardless of where you reside.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      It is not against U.S. law for U.S. intelligence agencies to spy on foreigners.
    • by gweihir (88907)

      I think he just wanted to confirm that the NSA sees anybody that is not on US soil as the enemy. While this was already quite clear, it is nice to get that confirmation.

    • International law 101:

      It is a sovereign's privilege to not obey other sovereign's laws. That, in effect, is what makes a sovereign a sovereign. If the other sovereign's object, they have to stop the offender.

      In this case, that means stopping the intrusions through security or force. Good luck with that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06, 2013 @08:23AM (#45617789)

    they all play it safe by making this country less free in order to ensure no terrorist attack of any kind is does not happen on their watch. Maybe we all are to blame since we the people do not want to pay for the price of freedom which is a little risk.

    • by rmdingler (1955220) on Friday December 06, 2013 @08:38AM (#45617895)
      AC is correct. This lies directly at the doorstep of the voter though, and is part of no grand deception. If the last few million citizens paying attention would be willing to vote for an honourable candidate, meanwhile ignoring his/her slaughter in the media, we wouldn't wind up with these polished anchorman-like leaders with opinions that change with each campaign stop. I can only assume we are very comfortable electing folks who are really skilled at telling us what we want to hear.
  • by korbulon (2792438) on Friday December 06, 2013 @08:23AM (#45617793)

    "Poor poor widdle NSA. There there. You can't play with all your toys anymore, but gold star for you!"

  • by Desler (1608317)

    They are not interested in reading your emails. They're not interested in reading your text messages. And that's not something that's done.

    More misdirection. Of course they aren't interested in those things, they want the more valuable location data and other metadata so they can build huge tracking database and SNR graphs.

    • Of course. They don't care what you said. They just want to know where to aim the missile at.
  • by couchslug (175151) on Friday December 06, 2013 @08:30AM (#45617839)

    ...something both Demublicans and Repocrats may decry in public but can't resist using once in power.

    In that respect Obama is Bush III.

  • by korbulon (2792438) on Friday December 06, 2013 @08:34AM (#45617863)

    'Young people, rightly, are sensitive to the needs to preserve their privacy and to retain internet freedom. And by the way, so am I,' responded the President. 'That's part of not just our First Amendment rights and expectations in this country, but it's particularly something that young people care about..

    This is a former constitutional lawyer saying that privacy concerns are a First Amendment concern. WT-actual-F? This is clearly Fourth amendment territory, but oh well. I mean, this is the president after all: we don't need facts when we have authority.

    Also, the suggestion that this issue is all the more vital because young people care about it? What smarmy nonsense. It's a bloody constitutional crisis being characterized as an MTV award.

    • by ATMAvatar (648864) on Friday December 06, 2013 @08:58AM (#45618007) Journal
      It's both. We have already seen stories about media self-censoring due to the surveillance. In addition, there's a chilling effect on association when people know they are always being watched.
      • by TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) on Friday December 06, 2013 @11:37AM (#45619471)

        Unfortunately, my mod points expired yesterday. The chilling effect on assembly is perhaps the primary concern with regards to the collection of metadata because the fourth amendment doesn't address whether or not the government can stalk you. It only says that the government can't search your persons, houses, papers, and effects without cause. The government stalking you does have a real chilling effect on who you choose to assemble with out of fear of government repercussion.

    • by Trailer Trash (60756) on Friday December 06, 2013 @09:04AM (#45618051) Homepage

      'Young people, rightly, are sensitive to the needs to preserve their privacy and to retain internet freedom. And by the way, so am I,' responded the President. 'That's part of not just our First Amendment rights and expectations in this country, but it's particularly something that young people care about..

      This is a former constitutional lawyer saying that privacy concerns are a First Amendment concern. WT-actual-F? This is clearly Fourth amendment territory, but oh well. I mean, this is the president after all: we don't need facts when we have authority.

      Also, the suggestion that this issue is all the more vital because young people care about it? What smarmy nonsense. It's a bloody constitutional crisis being characterized as an MTV award.

      I came here to say the same thing. His obvious misunderstanding of the Constitution in this and other contexts kind of makes me question the whole "constitutional scholar" label.

    • by Sir Holo (531007)

      This is a former constitutional lawyer saying that privacy concerns are a First Amendment concern. WT-actual-F? This is clearly Fourth amendment territory...

      It is actually both a First and a Fourth Amendment concern, which is what enabled him to avoid the cognitive dissonance of bald-faced lying.

      For the uninitiated, it is a Fourth amendment concern because it is an illegal search and seizure (seizure occurs at the time of collection and retention, not later when a human examines it). Consequently, those who feel their Fourth Amendment rights may be violated will tend to censor themselves, leading also to a valid First-Amendment concern.

      Long story short —

    • by jez9999 (618189)

      Yep. Obama is becoming the king of hypocrisy. I'm not sure my conscience would allow me to praise the life of Nelson Mandela in taking a stand against a government that was tyrannical and morally wrong while persecuting Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning (among others).

  • Translation (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06, 2013 @08:35AM (#45617877)

    "1. The things that the NSA does are proper and justified.
    2. We will strive to reduce the improper and unjustified things* the NSA does."

    *Nothing

  • by Christopher Joseph (3455763) on Friday December 06, 2013 @08:49AM (#45617967)
    How belittling it is to couple one of our most essential rights with the phrase "texting and-- you know, Instagramming". No, Mr. Obama, that is not why we want our privacy. We want our privacy because it was guaranteed to us. Any reason other than that is more reason than you deserve. I want my privacy because I have a RIGHT to privacy. End of discussion. It's appalling to see how this presidency completely obliterated some of our most important constructs: separation of powers, federalism, inalienable rights, etc. Barack ran a campaign on transparency. His administration has been the least transparent in decades. The Obama administration has prosecuted more whistle blowers then all other administrations combined. He promised to close Guantanamo, claiming that "going around laws" was just as bad as breaking them. Yet, he defends dragnet surveillance because it was done "outside our borders". Self-restraint. You have to be kidding me. This is literally infuriating.
    • by Sir_Eptishous (873977) on Friday December 06, 2013 @10:31AM (#45618813) Homepage
      You have to understand his target market. The majority of Americans don't know who the founding fathers were and don't care.

      They can't find Viet Nam on a world map let alone Iraq. They don't know what the three brances of the federal government are...

      But Goddamned if they don't know about Instagramming, lolcats, Jersey Shore, Justin Bieber, endless shrimp Thursdays at Red Lobster and buying t-shirts at Wal-Mart and wearing them until they are dirty and buying another pack instead of washing them.

      This is the America he is talking to, not you or I.

      We are living in the modern Roman Empire.
      Bread and Circuses and all that.
    • by N0Man74 (1620447)

      How belittling it is to couple one of our most essential rights with the phrase "texting and-- you know, Instagramming".

      Thank you for noticing that as well.

      Our right to communicate freely without government eavesdropping isn't merely to protect inane chattering of teenagers, or to prevent embarrassing selfies to fall into the hands of government workers.

      Our rights are also there in order to allow us to criticize the government, be contrariion, have unpopular viewpoints, and rabble-rouse.

  • As a foreigner.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06, 2013 @08:50AM (#45617969)

    Let me just say that I'm not exactly wretched with guilt over not respecting the IP of US companies, seeing as my data apparently is fair game to the US.

  • Chilling (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DFDumont (19326) on Friday December 06, 2013 @09:15AM (#45618117)

    "Outside of our borders, the NSA's more aggressive. It's not constrained by laws"

    Uhm, I guess the laws of foreign countries, and international law don't apply to our spy organizations. I'm also sure the constraint of our laws (1st Amendment, 4th Amendment) can be ignored at will as well. After all we are just trying to find all the terrorists, right ?!? (You know like the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles - https://www.eff.org/press/releases/five-more-organizations-join-eff-lawsuit-against-nsa-surveillance)

    As Ben Franklin put it, "They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Benjamin_Franklin

    We need to simply shut down the NSA altogether, burn their records in effigy, and recall every elected official who ever voted in favor of their activities, or their funding.

  • By accepting that the NSA is allowed to spy on anyone who is not American, without any limitations, the American people have let the genie out the bottle. This allows the NSA to gain access and capabilities that are then turned inwards to spy on Americans as well.

    “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” - Abraham Lincoln

  • (1) I love you
    (2) The check is in the mail
    (3) I promise I won't XTY &% &%RF *&MOH

    I couldn't say the third one. But Obama is adding to the list

  • Pretty Offensive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gerald Williams (3433353) on Friday December 06, 2013 @09:26AM (#45618229)
    'Young people, rightly, are sensitive to the needs to preserve their privacy and to retain internet freedom. And by the way, so am I,' responded the President. 'That's part of not just our First Amendment rights and expectations in this country, but it's particularly something that young people care about, because they spend so much time texting and-- you know, Instagramming.' The fact that the President thinks our desire for privacy and network neutrality is predicated on the ability to text and 'Instagram' other people is a little offensive, and just shows that he doesn't get it.
  • by Jawnn (445279) on Friday December 06, 2013 @09:33AM (#45618295)
    Really...
    Then why the fuck are they still doing it?
  • by jonwil (467024) on Friday December 06, 2013 @09:33AM (#45618301)

    The actual spying isn't the biggest issue I have with the NSA (and GCHQ and ASIO and the others), the biggest issue is the way that these agencies are doing things that deliberately weaken computer security in the name of making it easier to spy on people.
    Things like backdoors in who knows what software. Or pressuring software vendors under the table not to fix things that the NSA is using to spy. Or their various proposals for "key escrow" over the years. Or the potential compromise of security related algorithms and protocols (dual-ec-drbg for example is suspect and going back there were questions when the key-length of DES was made shorter by the NSA)

    And lets not forget the cryptographic export controls (which still exist and can still be an impediment even if they have been wound back a bit) and what the government did to Zimmerman over PGP.

    • by swillden (191260)

      The actual spying isn't the biggest issue I have with the NSA (and GCHQ and ASIO and the others), the biggest issue is the way that these agencies are doing things that deliberately weaken computer security in the name of making it easier to spy on people

      +1. This particular aspect of the Snowden revelations shocked and staggered me.

      The NSA has always had two missions around signals intelligence (1) spy on the rest of the world and (2) make sure the rest of the world can't spy on us. And that second mission covered all communications important to national security, not just government comms. A few years ago I build an important commercial system that protected stuff related to credit card payments, and I had NSA oversight for the whole project because t

  • by swb (14022) on Friday December 06, 2013 @09:37AM (#45618343)

    A have a friend who teaches political science and history at a state college. He has been asking his students how they feel about NSA surveillance and the majority opinion is summarized "I have nothing to hide, I'm not doing anything wrong, if it increases safety it's OK."

    It doesn't sound to me like a lot of "young people" are taking a very strong civil-liberties position on this. The school he teaches at is a smaller state school (ie, not the main, big-name state university) so the student body tends to be more "mainstream" than the more leftish bias you might expect at the "prestige" main campus.

    And when I raise the issue among my 40-something adult peers it's surprising how little people care and the "Where's your tinfoil hat?" look people give you.

    • by N0Man74 (1620447) on Friday December 06, 2013 @11:30AM (#45619395)

      And when I raise the issue among my 40-something adult peers it's surprising how little people care and the "Where's your tinfoil hat?" look people give you.

      You know, for years I've gotten looks from people that they thought I was too extreme in my views on rights, and my feeling that government is overstepping its limits. After everything that's happened, I've found that people lately have become slightly more receptive. I hope the trend continues.

      But still, most people are willing to let their rights slide if it gives them the illusion of safety from terrorists, drug dealers, predators, and whatever villain we need.

    • by MrNemesis (587188) on Friday December 06, 2013 @12:08PM (#45619755) Homepage Journal

      As a history teacher, I'm sure your friend sadly understands how most people don't appreciate the freedoms they have until they've been lost, and then the cycle repeats itself. Most people of the current generation haven't this seen first, second or even third hand and don't understand what typically happens when those in power exceed their authority. Hell, most people don't even understand that everyone has something to hide, they just think that if their head is down low enough no-one will care. And then, sooner or late, cue Niemoller.

  • dont expect the truth from that snake
  • Taking action (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Walterk (124748) <`dublet' `at' `acm.org'> on Friday December 06, 2013 @09:52AM (#45618475) Homepage Journal

    As a European, I did the one thing I could do, cancel the server I was renting in the US. Sorry to the very nice people who ran it but your government left me with no choice.

    • Then I'm not going to IKEA ever again... Ever.

      Well, on second thought those meatballs are pretty good.
      And their selection of outdoor rugs is fabulous, and I really need a new one for my deck...

      Dammit! You got me!
    • Thanks, dude (Score:5, Informative)

      by alispguru (72689) <bane.gst@com> on Friday December 06, 2013 @11:16AM (#45619241) Journal

      Could you please send a note to the company in question, specifically telling them why you cancelled your service?

      If this happens enough times, eventually US companies will start to poke the government about it.

  • Cockroach in the concrete
    Courthouse tan and beady eyes
    A slouch with fallen arches
    Purging truths into great lies

    The little man with a big eraser
    Changing history
    Procedures that he's programmed to
    And all he hears and sees

    Altering the facts and figures
    Events and every issue
    Make a person disappear
    No one will ever miss you

    Dave Mustaine, 1988

  • by RoccamOccam (953524) on Friday December 06, 2013 @10:13AM (#45618635)
    Does the NSA get around the restrictions on spying on US citizens by allowing/encouraging Great Britain (for example) to spy on us (and vice versa) and then sharing the data? If so, has that behavior been documented?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06, 2013 @11:22AM (#45619305)

    "I'll be proposing more _self_ restraint." In other words, there will be no restraints. Restraint means there are rules on bad behavior that can't be broken without consequence. Self-restraint means there are no rules imposed on you by a third party, and it's up to you to decide whether the behavior is bad. The problem with self-restraint is that most government officials are deeply schooled in situation ethics, so whether behavior is acceptable is totally up to personal interpretation, personal goals, and personal motivation.

    The promises "to initiate some reforms that can give people more confidence." In other words, as we have heard before, he believes it is a PR problem, and he has announced that his reforms, rather than changing things actually, will be mainly designed to change public perception of what they are already doing. At least he's being honest about it.

    "The NSA actually does a very good job about not engaging in domestic surveillance, not reading people's emails, not listening to the contents of their phone calls." The NSA already said they pull in so much data it isn't possible for them to separate domestic from foreign traffic. It is on the order of petabytes. When he says they are not listening to phone calls, reading emails, etc., bear in mind they are recording and storing those very things. They just don't have a live person sitting in a chair listening to them right this moment. The only reason they supposedly aren't is because of the "self-restraint" he just mentioned. However, they can store that data as long as they like, until they discover a novel legal theory that says they can listen to it. With regard to the Snowden documents, the GCHQ has said they are "out there" and don't seem comforted by the self-restraint of the journalists that are filtering through them.

    "Outside of our borders, the NSA's more aggressive. It's not constrained by laws." False. It is constrained by treaties, which are like laws but enforced with nukes.

  • You are wasting a shit ton of money on Terrorism protections, meanwhile falling down in the bathtub is a greater risk to American lives.

    Every year: Heart disease and accidents cause Four Hundred Times more deaths than a 9/11 scale attack. We will fight you to the death for the freedom to drive fast cars to fast food restaurants. We do not need protection from the pathetic "terrorist threat". Stand terrorism next to ANY other threat and you will see why our HUGE budget to fight it is ridiculous and proponents of spending such should be fired on sight. They say Terrorism is nothing to sneeze at, but EVERY YEAR the Flu kills SIX TIMES more people than a 9/11 scale attack. [cdc.gov] They pay for submarines to tap into under sea cables to prevent terrorism? Body scanners and gropers at transportation hubs? No longer.

    The public needs proportional protection from proportional risk. The budget for terrorist protection should be less than that of the Flu prevention, and less than what we spend to preventing you from braining yourself on the bathtub faucet by accident. It has become clear that our protection is not the government's agenda. It seems that the agenda is to funnel as much money possible into the pockets of those who benefit by increasing the size and reach of the Military Industrial Complex.

    You have made Eisenhower's Nightmare come true. [youtube.com]

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