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Whitewash Continues of NSA Criminality

I caught some of Lawrence O’Donnell’s show yesterday in which O’Donnell glibly shilled for the Obama administration against the findings of federal Judge Leon. O’Donnell also handily soft-balled questions to one of Obama’s NSA reform panelists in which the two found common cause in lauding the Obama administration for its “lesser evil” spy program. Do they not recall it took Edward Snowden to expose it????

I also caught part of a Barbara Walter’s special in which she gave short shrift to one on her list of most fascinating people of 2013, Edward Snowden. Let’s see. I remember two things from that tiny segment before she rushed along. Snowden was a high school dropout and Walters’ suggestion that most Americans don’t begin to care about being massively spied upon.

Did anybody else witnessing this not feel a chill climb the spine?

The mainstream corporate media propaganda machine is continuing its mighty work at legitimizing and defending the -- as Judge Leon typified it -- “almost Orwellian” Obama shadow police state.

It takes effort not to bobble one’s head to the facile and manipulatively righteous words of the MSNBC crowd as they cherry-pick issues to uphold Team Dem, pretending the Democratic Party and Obama are out to champion us citizens and are not fellow enablers of the corporatist elite, as is the rabid Republican Party.

Snowden may have the sympathy of some US and world citizens, but what seriously are his chances for any degree of official vindication or even of long-term basic survival with the media machinery's and officialdom’s continuing vilification of his whistle-blowing heroism and their mendacious and cosmetic cover-up of constitutional criminality?

What are the chances of mass NSA surveillance being stopped or even significantly reduced? Better chances for the continued hardening of soft fascism under the Obama administration.

No serious skin off most people’s noses sadly – and unbelievably, if one really can critically and morally grasp what is at stake during this, our lifetime. Here we all are, ripe to be steered into ever more complacency, apathy, distraction and impotence. Lost to media and Obama administration bullshit rationalizations and doubletalk. We are not only witnessing but mass enabling the flushing of our constitutional rights and the rights of the world population not to have its privacy invaded by a criminal US regime.

Snowden asserted that it was not the whistleblowers like himself, Assange and Manning whom the violating Obama administration feared. It was the mass majority of citizens demanding truth and their democratic rights.

How many of us will and even feel inclined to call out the betrayal of us and our constitution by the Obama regime? I hate to admit that Barbara Walter’s concisely presented, creepy assumption that most Americans don’t care about mass surveillance is right.

Bill Van Auken in "Edward Snowden’s open letter sparks asylum debate in Brazil" cites former CIA director James Woolsey response to talk of amnesty for Snowden as being “idiotic.” Woolsey added: “He should be prosecuted for treason. If convicted by a jury of his peers, he should be hanged by his neck until he is dead.”

Snowden is facing two espionage charges carrying a possible death sentence. His crime? Exposing the CRIME of the US government of systematic mass spying against the citizens of the US and the world. Security uber alles is still being used to excuse governmental criminality. 9/11 just keeps on giving to the military/security industrial complex, doesn’t it?

Also, our government that seeks Snowden’s extradition uses its rampant military gangsterism to intimidate all countries into not granting Snowden permanent asylum.

The Obama administration has already assumed the right to execute anyone it deems an enemy of the state without due process. Van Auken reminds us that already it has wilfully executed at least four Americans by drone missiles. (At least.) Those illegal, precedent-setting executions seemed to cause nary a ripple within our mainstream corporate media and our heretofore bill of rights enjoying US population.

Can we as individuals not grasp how monumental those horrifyingly unconstitutional violent killings were?

Van Auken continues:

Snowden still faces grave threats from the US government and has by no means found secure refuge in Russia. The government of President Vladimir Putin has granted the former NSA contractor only a temporary refugee visa, which runs out in August of 2014. Moscow has repeatedly stressed that he will not be allowed to work against “American interests” while in the country.

The Obama administration this week dismissed suggestions that it could grant amnesty to Snowden in return for a guarantee that he would stop further leaks of NSA files. “It remains our view that Mr. Snowden is accused of leaking classified information and that he faces felony charges here in the United States,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney. He added that Snowden would be granted “full due process,” which is meant to deflect fears that he could be subjected to military detention, torture or internment at Guantanamo Bay.

What a guy, Obama. Promises not to add Snowden to the tragic and so often forgotten suffering souls still being tortured via force-feeding, etc., in Gitmo whom last May 2013 wasn’t it say-anything, pretend he is just an innocent bystander, Obama assured Americans he intended to do something about. Tch, tch. That’s rich.

As for Obama’s merry band of cronies on the non-binding NSA review panel, the one genuinely promising recommendation got shot down immediately by the “powers that be.” Joseph Kishore in "Obama advisory committee whitewashes US spying programs” writes:

One recommendation from the panel has already been explicitly rejected by the Obama administration. It calls for separating the NSA from the US military’s cyber command, and placing a civilian at the head of the NSA. This proposal has been rejected by the military-intelligence apparatus, including current NSA Director General Keith Alexander.

Kishore explains more of the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies findings:

The administration’s decision to expedite the public release of the report, which was presented to the president over the weekend, comes in the wake of a US federal court decision earlier this week that referred to one of the principal domestic spying programs as “almost Orwellian.” Judge Richard Leon said that the bulk collection of telephone records of almost all US citizens is an “indiscriminate” and “arbitrary” invasion of privacy rights. The program was initiated under the Bush administration and has been strongly defended by Obama.

While the report is being presented in the media as a call for major constraints on the National Security Agency (NSA), a core recommendation of the advisory panel is that this program should continue, if in a somewhat altered form. It calls for Congress to enact legislation to “end such storage [of telephone records] and transition to a system in which such meta-data is held privately for the government to query when necessary for national security purposes.” This transition should be carried out “as soon as reasonably possible.”

It suggests a “general rule” that any programs involving the government collection and storage of “mass, undigested, non-public personal information about individuals” should be “narrowly tailored to serve an important government interest.”

In other words, mass data collection in violation of Constitutional rights, including the telephone records program, should be carried out when possible by private companies working for the government, and the government should collect this information directly only when it is in its “interest” to do so.

“Mass surveillance is still heinous, even if private company servers are holding the data instead of government data centers,” commented Kurt Opsahl of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court would approve government requests for data only if it can show there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that the information is “relevant to an authorized investigation,” a completely vague requirement.

The panel also suggests that Congress create a “public interest advocate” to argue before the FISC to give the illusion of due process.

The illusion of due process. Manufactured by our say-anything impression management president and the mighty mighty military/security industrial complex aided and abetted by the propagandizing corporate media controlled by (as are the president and the military industrial complex) the moneyed elite who find fascism across the globe far more conducive to profit-making than real democracy and find utterly expendable those pesky professed human and civil rights of us individuals. The human family.

“Meh” to us all.

Actually, doom to us and democracy and world peace and real world security.

Doom to Snowden.

Too bad democracy at best in 2013 is only a spectator sport.

[cross-posted on open salon]

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Comments

tom allen's picture
Submitted by tom allen on

While flipping through the news channels this morning I caught a snippet of "Morning Joe" where Democrat Mika Brzezinski interviewed her daddy Zbigniew, who basically chuckled that yes, Big Brother was watching us, but if you didn't misbehave, you had nothing to fear.

As a side note, I'm so glad political reporters are hired on merit, not family influence.

Rangoon78's picture
Submitted by Rangoon78 on

White house NSA panel findings:
"The government should not be permitted to collect and store mass, undigested, non-public personal information about US persons for the purpose of enabling future queries and data-mining for foreign intelligence purposes"

The former Obama propagandist* Amy Goodman:

"The panel is chaired by former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell, and is managed under the auspices of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, run by James Clapper. Clapper is widely considered to have lied in a Senate hearing on this issue."
---------------------------

* a year ago from: The Toxically Useful Idiocy of Amy Goodman
"Still, incredibly, she’d have us believe that agitator/government relations have actually improved under Obama:"

Goodman: "For years during the Bush administration, people felt they were hitting their heads against a brick wall. With the first election of President Obama, the wall had become a door, but it was only open a crack."

There is a line between useful idiocy and outright compliance with tyranny.

http://ohtarzie.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/the-toxically-useful-idiocy-of-...

"We recognize that the government might need access to such meta-data, which should be held instead by private providers or by a private third party."

These proposed changes are a big nothing-burger. AT&T will collect and store my data or maybe they'll have Amazon (which has a contract to help THE CIA with their storage needs) store it for them?

[Amazon has] a huge financial interest in playing nice with the CIA,” said former CIA official Ray McGovern.
Last month, Amazon issued a statement saying, “We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA.”

And of course we can trust AT$T to do the right thing:
In addition to the post 9/11 extra-judicial snooping from a room right there in San Francosco:

Within eleven (11) days of the onset of the Bush administration, and at least seven (7) monthsprior to the attacks of September 11, 2001, defendant ATT began development of a center for monitoring long distance calls and internet transmissions and other digital information for the exclusive use of the NSA.
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2006/07/new_att_conspir/

Chromex's picture
Submitted by Chromex on

When I read the former CIA directors remarks I agreed that SOMEONE should be tried for treason and put to death. But its not Snowden.
This is the only threat that will make Facists like Clapper and Obama respond.
I include Obama based on the history of the perpetrator of the My Lai strocity. If we are really going to scare the facists and get some real change we have to dismantle the backstop otherwise we will be reading years later that Clapper and Woolsey never served a day for their crimes against humanity.
As far as I am concerned , Obama can be locked up and someone can lose the key. His war crimes alone justify a death sentence and our media is discussing the legality of those brave souls who tried to warn us. And he dares to attempt to judge them?

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

"What are the chances of mass NSA surveillance being stopped or even significantly reduced? Better chances for the continued hardening of soft fascism under the Obama administration."

Actually, I think some reduction has a pretty good chance of occurring. Not because, anyone's concerned about Liberty or Democracy, but because the big technology companies bought by the CIA are finding their brands and their businesses dropping like stones globally. Cosmetics won't stem that tide. They need some systemic changes that are credible enough to make their products salable again in foreign nations concerned about NSA spying in Europe, Hispanic America, the Russian sphere of influence, the Mideast, and China. When the losses pile up, the tech giants' pressure on the political system will manifest in political contributions to legislators who want to bring the NSA under control. That's when we'll get real change.