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Obama’s Orwellian Defense of NSA @ Press Conf.

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So Obama stood up at his year-end press conference on Friday and gave “an Orwellian defense of unrestrained US spying” according to Bill Van Auken in “Latest Snowden revelations expose Obama’s lies on NSA spy programs”.

Obama:

“I have confidence that the NSA is not engaging in domestic surveillance and snooping around…”

Say what?

He continued:

“The United States is a country that abides by rule of law, that cares deeply about privacy, that cares deeply about civil liberties …”

YADDA YADDA YADDA … WRONG!

Declares Van Auken:

… the agency is collecting and storing billions of files recording the phone calls, text messages, emails, Internet searches and even the daily movements of virtually ever US citizen, not to mention those of hundreds of millions of people abroad.

snip

Who, at this late juncture, does the American president think he’s fooling? One only has to read the ruling by a Washington, DC Federal District Court judge—which was then stayed in the interest of “national security”—finding the surveillance methods of the NSA to be “almost Orwellian,” and its activities unconstitutional, i.e., criminal.

Obama refused to address calls for amnesty for Snowden without whom the enormity of the vast dragnet would not be known. Obama insists (falsely) that Snowden has been indicted and that his fate rests with the US attorney general.

Obama also had the colossal nerve to insist that it is Snowden who is giving a “pretty distorted view of what’s going on out there” and not himself. Snowden, who exposed the “infrastructure of a U.S. police state” as Van Auken labels it.

A hypocritical Obama minimized the present NSA controversy as an “important conversation we needed to have” but quickly added that the way the disclosures happened was damaging to US intelligence. How could this "conversation" ever have come about then?

Van Auken:

The fact is that there would have been no “conversation” without the actions taken by Snowden, because neither the NSA, nor the president, nor the Congress was about to expose to the American people and the people of the world the massive conspiracy being mounted against their fundamental democratic rights.

Van Auken stresses that Obama remained silent on one question that cited Judge Richard Leon’s decision on Monday that referred to “the utter lack of evidence that a terrorist attack has ever been prevented through the dragnet surveillance being carried out by the NSA.”

Obama’s own advisory panel three days later concluded according to Van Auken: “the information contributed to terrorist investigations by the use of . . . telephony metadata was not essential to preventing attacks.”

The NSA’s massive spying is NOT keeping the American people safe. Obama was even asked point blank to provide any specific examples in which the NSA spying program had thwarted terrorist acts. Obama remained silent.

Van Auken goes on to ask what might this international spying operation be really about if not national security. He suggests that “industrial espionage” seems a likely answer as well as a covert authoritarian intelligence-gathering force to be used to protect the financial elite against us of the lower 99%.

Van Auken:

One answer to this question was indicated in secret documents leaked by Snowden and reported on by the New York Times, the Guardian, and Der Spiegel on Friday, showing that among 1,000 targets of the NSA and its British partner, the General Communications Headquarters, were Joaquin Almunia, the European Union’s competition commissioner and current European Commission vice president. Almunia was involved in pursuing charges of commercial and financial abuse against US corporations such as Google, Microsoft, the pharmaceutical conglomerate Johnson & Johnson and financial giants such as Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase.

Other targets included the French defense contractor Thales, the Paris-based energy giant Total, European telecom companies and the heads of oil and finance ministries. This is in line with earlier revelations of NSA spying on Brazil’s state-owned energy firm, Petrobras.

In the face of outraged denunciations of industrial espionage by the European Union and others, the NSA attempted to deny the obvious. “We do not use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of—or give intelligence we collect to—U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line,” said an agency spokeswoman Friday.

She quickly added, however, that economic spying is essential “to providing policy makers with the information they need to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of our national security.”

In other words, if the NSA doesn’t directly pass intelligence to Citigroup, Google, Exxon Mobil and others, it is giving it to other government officials who do.

Van Auken concludes that the NSA intelligence apparatus “of genuine totalitarian dimensions” is acting in partnership with giant corporations. Van Auken reminds us that the narrow, financial elite which has “amassed an unprecedented share of the country’s wealth” thanks to ongoing government enabling lives in fear that such social inequality will spark revolt from the oppressed lower social classes. It calls on the politicians of both the Democratic and Republican parties to defend its ever-profiting interests at all costs including the destruction of our democratic rights.

Van Auken:

Under the phony cover of the “war on terror”—and in the real context of endless war abroad—the US government under Obama has arrogated to itself vast powers to spy on the entire population, subject its perceived enemies to indefinite military detention and even summarily kill anyone, including US citizens, without due process.

The threat of police state dictatorship emerges more clearly with each passing day…”

[cross-posted on open salon]

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Comments

Submitted by Hugh on

I have confidence that Obama intends to do exactly nothing about the NSA's large scale spying on Americans. He has from the start portrayed the NSA's problems as not caused by its spying programs but rather how those programs are "misunderstood" by Americans. So for him, it is not a structural or Constitutional problem, but a PR one.

The deeper question that needs asking, again and again, is why do our elites support and defend massive and expensive spying on Americans that has not prevented even a single terrorist act. What we need to be talking about is if these programs are not about terrorism, what are they about.