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Obama’s ‘Clueless’ Act re NSA at Press Conference

Obama held a Friday press conference and continued to lie about the illegality of the NSA surveillance programs.

Obama, according to Barry Grey in “Obama’s press conference: The smiling face of a police state,” seriously wants the citizenry to believe its discomfort over Edward Snowden’s NSA mass surveillance revelations is just a poor job of public relations between his administration and the American population.


The press conference itself was thrown together to assuage popular anger and concern over the systematic violation of privacy rights. As Obama said, his aim was to “make the American people more comfortable” about government snooping on every aspect of their lives.

“America is not interested in spying on ordinary people,” Obama said, as if documents had never been published exposing the government’s seizure of records of all telephone calls placed in the United States, its dragnet of electronic communications around the world, its recording of license plates, and its photographing of letters.

The NYT just reported, points out Grey, that the NSA is “copying and then sifting through the contents of what is apparently most emails and other text-based communications that cross the border.” Last week the country found out about NSA’s XKeyscore program, allowing operatives, unauthorized and unwarranted, “to listen to phone calls and read emails at will”.

Barry Grey:

In a tone of seeming incomprehension, Obama said, “And a general impression has, I think, taken hold, not only among the American public but also around the world, that somehow we’re out there willy-nilly just sucking in information on everybody and doing what we please with it.”

But as everyone knows, that is precisely what the US government is doing.

Obama’s paternally minimizing tone was finally interrupted, reports Grey, when a question came up about Edward Snowden. Then Obama flashed out anger, “No, I don’t think Mr. Snowden was a patriot!” Obama elaborated further that he thought Snowden was guilty of “putting at risk our national security and some very vital ways that we are able to get intelligence that we need to secure the country.”

Obama’s amazement act over citizen alarm at massive invasion of presumed Constitution-protected privacy is assuredly generating massive cognitive dissonance in his listeners. Who are you going to believe? The facts and evidence and violated boundaries of the Bill of Rights revealed by Snowden or Obama’s lying rhetoric? Obama, by the way, took time to praise the spy agencies as being patriotic, securing us and sharing our values. Our values? Fascistic policies are not traditional American values, no matter how much jingoism Obama manages to pump up around them.


Having made clear that all of the spying programs will continue, he announced a handful of vague and meaningless measures that will in no way lessen the programs’ criminal character. “Some bolts needed to be tightened on some of the programs,” he said.

“Tightening the bolts” on the vast bureaucratic machinery of state surveillance and putting a smiling face on the agencies and individuals who are targeting the American people for repression—such is Obama’s response to the exposure of vast crimes against the US Constitution and the democratic rights of the people.

Obama gave a speech three months ago at the National Defense University, Grey reminds us. Obama acknowledged that his policies of drone assassination and the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantanamo "challenged the concept of American democracy." Not that he had any serious intention of righting these wrongs, but he implied he was at least in some conflict about them.

Grey seems to be contending that Obama has reached an even darker stage of mendacity -- encouraging downright “denial” with outright lying and/or relentless minimizing by suggesting citizen concern over the illegitimate NSA assault of our rights to privacy is a MERE problem of communications and not stimulated from what Grey labels “the shredding of the Bill of Rights”.


The White House press corps, pliant as always, did not challenge claims by Obama that everyone in the room knew to be lies. No reporter so much as hinted that the NSA programs were unconstitutional.

Nor did anyone raise questions about the global terror alert, which Obama cited at the start of his remarks as justification for the surveillance programs. The fact that in the midst of a supposedly imminent threat Obama is leaving the capital to vacation at Martha’s Vineyard was never broached.

Even more chilling than Obama’s lies is his obliviousness to democratic principles. There is not a hint of concern for what Eisenhower warned of a half-century ago—the immense danger to democratic rights posed by the rise of a military-industrial complex. And this is under conditions of a present-day military-intelligence-industrial complex far beyond anything Eisenhower could have imagined.

Obama personifies the contempt for democratic rights and the Constitution, and the police state mentality that pervade all branches of the US government.

[cross-posted at open salon]

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Submitted by lambert on

An independent commission turned into an in-house commission in, like, 72 hours, as emptywheel points out. Not that Obama ever intended anything else.