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Electronic Frontier Foundation Government Privacy Your Rights Online

Why No Executive Order To Stop NSA Metadata Collection? 312

An anonymous reader links to this editorial at Ars Technica which argues that "As chief executive, Obama has the power to reform the NSA on his own with the stroke of a pen. By not putting this initiative into an executive order, he punted to Congress on an issue that affects the civil liberties of most anybody who picks up a phone. Every day Congress waits on the issue is another day Americans' calling records are being collected by the government without suspicion that any crime was committed. 'He does not need congressional approval for this,' said Mark Jaycoxx, an Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney."
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Why No Executive Order To Stop NSA Metadata Collection?

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  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @04:05PM (#46678427)

    Or they can manufacture it and have demonstrated it to him.

    • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @04:09PM (#46678467) Homepage Journal
      Or maybe he just doesn't want it to stop.
      • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @04:17PM (#46678517)

        Well, I have some residual trust in the good in people. Maybe I am wrong there.

        • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @04:31PM (#46678609)
          NO, you're making the assumption that because he's on your side on some things, he's on your side on everything.

          Alas, there's not much evidence of that.

          • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @05:18PM (#46678881)

            What motivation does Obama have to stop this? His liberal base doesn't seem to care. It actually helps him in the center, where many people value security over privacy. The only organized political opposition is from the Paulite faction of the Republican Party, that is not going to support him, no matter what. So he has nothing to gain by changing the status quo.

            • You're absolutely right, we should file a motion to rename the dollar to the fiat, and the united states to house of corporate spam, and repaint the white house to a more appropriate Halloween theme...

            • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @08:25PM (#46679831)

              What motivation does Obama have to stop this? His liberal base doesn't seem to care.

              They do - when Democrats are not in office.

              Which is why you should not vote Democrats into office, because everyone assumes they are doing as they should instead of checking.

              Any other party will do, the Democrats have just become too entrenched and too powerful (as they control Hollywood and the media, or at least most of those organizations will look the other way for many offenses in the case of Democrats).

            • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @10:05PM (#46680255)

              It's not that his liberal base doesn't care. It's that they can't really say anything or their anger will be used to help the Republicans. It's one of the side effects of a two-party system. A politician (especially one in power) has to SERIOUSLY screw up to hear it from their own party. This is what makes establishment Republicans so uneasy about the Tea Party.

            • Sites like Salon and The Guardian broke the Snowden story, and they keep running with it. There is a very long list of left-leaning sites that keep the issue highly visible, including HuffPo, DKos, Raw Story, TruthOut, DemocracyNow! and I dare even list Ars Technica in that group. Yes, there are Obama-worshippers who try to paint anti-NSA info and sentiment as fifth-column betrayal, but overall if you sample the comments in places like DKos and DU, you'll see some skirmishes over the issue of party loyalty

        • by MaskedSlacker ( 911878 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @04:38PM (#46678647)

          No, you're just easily duped. Obama is, like Bush, a statist who supports the government's "right" to imprison, torture, and kill whoever they want for whatever reason they decide.

          • by labnet ( 457441 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @06:13PM (#46679199)

            I've read his autobiography. He is a political nobody, with no family of note, who was an average community organiser in Chicago, who happens to have brilliant oratory skills. That means he is bankrolled by someone very powerful, and thus will do what he is told.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ganjadude ( 952775 )
          if you can still have any trust in obama you are wrong here my friend. He has proven time and time again that he is full of shit and every move he makes is political in nature.
        • As I recall, when Obama was in the Senate he voted in favor of the Patriot Act extension and warrantless wiretaps. I don't know what you are basing your trust on.

        • by tqk ( 413719 )

          Well, I have some residual trust in the good in people.

          Yet at the same time you accuse $omeone else of blackmail. What a confused person you are.

        • by tmosley ( 996283 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @06:27PM (#46679301)
          What planet do you hail from where anyone trusts the goodness of ANY politician?

          Oh, you actually fell for the "Obama the Savior" bullshit?

          Did you know that the word gullible doesn't appear in the dictionary?
        • We're talking about politicians, not good people.

      • He's the man in charge, he would have approved the original plan. For him to order it stopped would be to admit he made a mistake.
      • Or maybe he was put in power by the NSA in the first place, and as such in his role as a puppet President, he won't sign any such 'executive order' unless his NSA masters order him to do so.
    • The article and yourself simply have not been paying attention.

      It is very simple, so please keep up.

      The only problem the ruling class has with ANY of this is that the plebs became aware it was happening. The goal now is a combination of appeasing the plebs with empty action and/or stalling long enough for them to forget (about 3 mins for most) and go back to chewing their cud.

      That is it. That is all there is too it. It is no surprise.

      The other mistake here is assuming that they were as surprised as you at t
    • Id wager he simply just doesnt want it to stop. He enjoys his power to much to allow it to stop
    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      J. Edgar, redux, but with a tinfoil hat.
    • If what you're saying is true (and it's entirely possible that it is), then we're already well past the point where anything can be done to stop this, and the NSA/CIA/intellgence community is already the de-facto ultimate power in the United States.
  • Why would he? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 06, 2014 @04:06PM (#46678439)

    Obama is part of the system that created the problem in the first place.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by BrookHarty ( 9119 )

      >Obama is part of the system that created the problem in the first place.

      Funny you can mention that now and get upvoted. If you mentioned that back during the first election it was "racist this, and racist that" you just dont want a black president! Then he got the Nobel peace prize, and few of us said, he didnt do anything to warrant it and was down voted.

      Track record speaks volumes.

  • by bazmail ( 764941 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @04:11PM (#46678475)
    He's still got Obama's election slogans ringing in his ears "Yes we can!" and "Change!!" lol. Obama is a political animal, just like all the others in DC. Do not expect anything different from him. As another commenter pointed out, he is part of the system that created and supports the military surveillance complex.
    • Re (Score:5, Insightful)

      by srichard25 ( 221590 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @05:13PM (#46678851)

      I am constantly amazed at how naive the average American voter is. Obama was a guy who could give a good speech, but he had ZERO leadership accomplishments to his name. The most basic research into Obama's background should have given anyone pause that he could actually accomplish any of what he promised. He was a Senator, but couldn't point to a single legislative accomplishment. He was in the state senate, but had a record of just voting present on key bills and had no major bills to his name. He was a community organizer, but once again couldn't point to any significant accomplishments. He claims to be a legal scholar, but locked his school records.

      For those of you who voted for Obama and are currently disappointed, I have a suggestion for you: next time do some background research on the person instead of just relying on campaign speeches and 30-second ads.

      • Re:Re (Score:5, Interesting)

        by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @05:36PM (#46679005)

        He was a Senator, but couldn't point to a single legislative accomplishment. He was in the state senate, but had a record of just voting present on key bills and had no major bills to his name. He was a community organizer, but once again couldn't point to any significant accomplishments. He claims to be a legal scholar, but locked his school records.

        He seems to have worked on the assumption that it was better to have no failures for which he could be blamed, rather than aiming for successes for which he could get credit.

        In some people's minds, lack of failure is a surer measure of success, than attempting success (and possibly failing, thereby).

      • Presidents these days are mostly elected for their charisma. You have to look at who a candidate associates with to get an idea of what they are actually going to do. For example, Obama putting 5 RIAA lawyers in the DOJ then pushing for things like ACTA. It's usually the advisors that come up with the ideas, so analyze who is advising them. This is probably why the NSA stuff has been consistent between Bush and Obama.

        As for the lack of accomplishments that's another plus in an election. Voters tend to

  • If all Obama does is sign an executive order, the fire under Congress to control this activity is gone, and the next president can easily undo it. How about keeping the heat on Congress to pass legislation?

    • If all Obama does is sign an executive order, the fire under Congress to control this activity is gone, and the next president can easily undo it. How about keeping the heat on Congress to pass legislation?

      Excellent plan! With all that added pressure making it a top priority we should be able to anticipate seeing Congressional action on it by, say, 2076.

    • how about we just elect someone who will follow the constitution instead of his handlers and not have to worry about it? I know its a pipe dream
    • Congress never voted to authorize this activity, Obama authorized it. It is therefor up to Obama to unauthorized it.

  • by sasparillascott ( 1267058 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @04:12PM (#46678483)
    There is serious political downside to doing this.

    Consider for example what would have happened had he walked back all these subversions to our liberties 6 months before the Boston Bombing and then what would have happened in the political sphere thereafter. In the end Obama is not a courageous leader who does what is right because its right - he's a very cautious politician and makes decisions that seem to reflect just that. His administration has made "cover all the bases" types of political decisions from the beginning...unfortunately right after what happened to our civil liberties after the previous administration that is not what we, as a country, probably needed (and he campaigned as if he was something else). Is it possible they have dirt on him, possibly, but I think the political danger angle is the more likely and is also why this will have to be forced on by congress (and Republicans in particular as they would be the one's to pounce him were anything to happen after a rollback). This is also why its going to be very hard for these things to be rolled back.
  • Hope and change... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fhic ( 214533 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @04:18PM (#46678525)

    Once again, this isn't it.

    He's had several opportunities to do something about this. He keeps making weaselly attempts to talk about it like he's doing something without actually making any changes. It seems obvious to me that he wants this to continue, much like his equally weasel-ish approach to medical cannabis. And this way, he can blame it on a do-nothing Congress, thus giving his potential successor a talking point.

  • Perhaps it's simply lip service? He's talked about putting limits on data collection, but to me it sounds more like "Ok, I poured a little water on the fire but you guys have one more chance to not let the cat out of the bag."

  • Politics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ZeroSerenity ( 923363 ) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [50camrog]> on Sunday April 06, 2014 @04:34PM (#46678621) Homepage Journal
    He wants Republicans to vote no on such a change so it can make them look bad. If he just did it by EO it would make him look bad in eyes of Republicans for abusing Executive power.
  • He doesn't want to. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @04:42PM (#46678673)

    Hasn't anybody listened to the man's statements on the subject? He thinks the NSA metadata collection is just peachy keen. It just hasn't been "explained properly" to the public.

  • Between vacations, golf, campaigning and late night TV appearances, where does he have the time?

  • by FridayBob ( 619244 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @04:46PM (#46678697) Homepage

    This is typical of our current President. If pressed on the issue, he might say that he would "prefer" the NSA not to collect phone records on all Americans, but that so far the opponents of the system just haven't been vocal enough about it for him to take any action on the subject. "Hey, Mr. President, where's all that _change_ you promised us?" I'm sure he would prefer to to do all those things, except that his donors would not be too happy about that.

    To think that I voted for this guy... twice. Not that the alternatives were any better, but sometimes I wonder if this administration really is any better than the previous one. And I seriously doubt the next one will be any better. Why? Because today the donors are the ones who are actually running the country (with the recent McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission [] ruling only adding insult to injury). The only solution I can think of is to attack this evil at its source by getting money out of politics [].

  • It's what they want. But he doesn't sign an executive order about it for the same reason that Congress doesn't bring up contempt charges for people who lie to them. They WANT to be lied to. They want to turn a blind eye to it all.

  • "i tip my hat to the new constitution
    take a bow for the new revolution
    smile and grin at the change all around me...
    pick up my guitar and play
    just like yesterday
    when i get on my knees and pray...
    we won't get fooled again"

    "meet the new boss, same as the old boss"

  • by exabrial ( 818005 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @05:49PM (#46679069)
    It was a program he approved and sponsored no matter what ignorance he claims. We need to hold him accountable, but unfortunately, there is an unhealthy celebrity love affair with this president that he is using to cover the usual dirt that comes with this office.
  • Because terrorists. Go back to Russia, pinko!

  • by blahplusplus ( 757119 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @06:19PM (#46679239)

    ... this is why obama is not on your side: []

  • Hello, Obama has been the man in charge of the NSA for over five years. He's the head of the executive branch.

  • by UrsaMajor987 ( 3604759 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @08:02PM (#46679707)
    None of the politicians can really stop this surveillance state. If some politician had the courage to stop it and then some terrorist incident, however minor, were to happen, the opposing party would absolutely crucify him. They all know this. This is why both parties are behaving in the same way. Something really scary happened on 9/11. The politicians promised security in exchange for freedom and people happily agreed. Nothing new there at all. The difference was that this time around, computer technology allowed the creation of a perfect police state. All police states in the past have had a fundamental problem; a society can support only so many secret policemen. Not enough secret policemen to create the perfect police state. With computer technology, that limit is erased. I am afraid this is going to become quite dystopian.
  • After all, it helped him steal the 2012 election and the dirt he gets on his political enemies makes it invaluable. If you want to run a dictatorship (and Obama's been governing LIKE one) you need "secret police" spying on your enemies.

    Which is why he isn't going to stop it. His announcement was pure window dressing. Like everything else his bumbling Regime does, he wants to APPEAR to be against NSA spying for consumption by the Low Information Masses so that he doesn't get blamed for it, all the while h

  • by Kr1ll1n ( 579971 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @11:22PM (#46680541)

    The very fact that you ask this question should indicate the problem.

    This question comes from a place of trust. "I trust our president to do the right thing. Why hasn't he?" This line of thought is almost identical to that of a battered spouse saying "he beats me because he loves me!" By asking the question, you are defending the indefensible and giving the benefit of the doubt.

    To further the point, look at those that claim "it is just metadata", in defense of the program.

    What is the metadata of an M4A file?

    [/share/MD0_DATA/NAS/iTunes/Music/Jack White/Blunderbuss] # strings 04\ Love\ Interruption.m4a | more
    --RETRACTED (hex hash, could be tied to account)--
    Love Interruption
    Jack White
    Jack White
    Jack White
    2012-04-23T07:00:00Z .apID
    --RETRACTED (verified as iTunes Account info)--
    2012-12-31 03:11:01
    Love Interruption
    Jack White

    As you can see, I had to retract metadata off of an M4A file, just to keep my info secure. Metadata is not some cryptic bit of info, depending on the detail. For all I know, there may still be identifiable info in what I have posted already......

"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined." -- Fred Brooks, Jr., _The Mythical Man Month_