Obama reverses course on privacy … again

posted at 9:28 am on July 3, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

The more Barack Obama learns about George W. Bush, the more he seems to like his predecessor.  In yet another reversal from his campaign rhetoric and another broken promise to the Left, the Obama administration has adopted a Bush administration plan to use the NSA to secure private computer networks.  The decision contradicts Obama’s earlier position that he would not allow the NSA to have access to private communications networks:

The Obama administration will proceed with a Bush-era plan to use National Security Agency assistance in screening government computer traffic on private-sector networks, with AT&T as the likely test site, according to three current and former government officials.

President Obama said in May that government efforts to protect computer systems from attack would not involve “monitoring private-sector networks or Internet traffic,” and Department of Homeland Security officials say the new program will scrutinize only data going to or from government systems.

That was then.  This is now:

But the program has provoked debate within DHS, the officials said, because of uncertainty about whether private data can be shielded from unauthorized scrutiny, how much of a role NSA should play and whether the agency’s involvement in warrantless wiretapping during George W. Bush’s presidency would draw controversy. Each time a private citizen visited a “dot-gov” Web site or sent an e-mail to a civilian government employee, that action would be screened for potential harm to the network.

“We absolutely intend to use the technical resources, the substantial ones, that NSA has. But . . . they will be guided, led and in a sense directed by the people we have at the Department of Homeland Security,” the department’s secretary, Janet Napolitano, told reporters in a discussion about cybersecurity efforts.

Under a classified pilot program approved during the Bush administration, NSA data and hardware would be used to protect the networks of some civilian government agencies. Part of an initiative known as Einstein 3, the plan called for telecommunications companies to route the Internet traffic of civilian agencies through a monitoring box that would search for and block computer codes designed to penetrate or otherwise compromise networks.

No matter how the White House tries to cut it rhetorically, the NSA will have to look at traffic from private networks to protect public ones.  This is so obviously true that it defies common sense to think otherwise.  You are likely accessing Hot Air through a private network, such as Comcast, Verizon, Cox, or a workplace-based network with a connection directly to the Internet.  (We won’t rat you out if it’s the latter — trust us.)  If you move from Hot Air to, say, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, then the traffic to that server passes through both private and public networks.  The only way the NSA won’t access private-network traffic would be if they only looked at accesses from within the federal network, which would be pointless in preventing hack attacks on government servers.

In a sense, this is no different than George Bush’s Terrorist Surveillance Program at the NSA — only Bush’s TSP required some reasonable cause for surveillance.  TSP intended to prevent terrorist attacks by surveilling communication traffic from or to people outside the US, prompted by discoveries of suspected terrorist communication points.  The NSA in this program checks communications entirely within the US, as well as coming from outside, in order to find potential attacks on our infrastructure.  AT&T will route any communications to any government website through NSA for surveillance during the Einstein 3 test phase, for instance, regardless of probable cause, and the rest of the carriers would follow suit once Einstein 3 passes its initial tests.

Like the TSP, I don’t see this as a big problem, except for occasional latency issues when unemployment reports get released.  We have an interest in protecting our public systems from attack, and the privacy issues are minimal — just as with Bush’s TSP.  But it represents a major shift from the campaign, and even from last May, for Obama, who appears to like the power against which he railed for more than two years as a candidate.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

One of the best things we can do to destroy Barry is to start calling him George W. Obama….

sven10077 on July 3, 2009 at 9:34 AM

TSP intended to prevent terrorist attacks by surveilling communication traffic from or to people outside the US, prompted by discoveries of suspected terrorist communication points.

This administration is not concerned about threats from outside of the US. They are only concerned about the threats from within.

myrenovations on July 3, 2009 at 9:34 AM

This administration is not concerned about threats from outside of the US. They are only concerned about the threats from within.

myrenovations on July 3, 2009 at 9:34 AM

Quite right, Ogabe grasps that nukes from “misunderstood Muslims” are not a real threat but Jon Voight decrying his “Me$$iah the Lightworker” fanfare is….

sven10077 on July 3, 2009 at 9:35 AM

Like the TSP, I don’t see this as a big problem

Everything Obama does is a ruse for a power grab.

Disturb the Universe on July 3, 2009 at 9:36 AM

Not surprised.

xax on July 3, 2009 at 9:36 AM

But this is different, see, by the inherent fact that it’s Barry doing it as opposed to Bush.

Barry, of course, has intelligently decided this to be the correct path, whereas nefarious insiders herded Bush into action.

Talk about suffering from cognitive dissonance

One Against Many on July 3, 2009 at 9:38 AM

One of the best things we can do to destroy Barry is to start calling him George W. Obama….

sven10077 on July 3

He’s no George W.

JellyToast on July 3, 2009 at 9:39 AM

“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have”.

Johan Klaus on July 3, 2009 at 9:39 AM

I hear ya knockin’ but you can’t come in!

HoustonRight on July 3, 2009 at 9:39 AM

One Against Many on July 3, 2009 at 9:38 AM

on the cognitive dissonance front….I am looking forward to the show trials where the M$M get to play the part of the old bolsheviks….

sven10077 on July 3, 2009 at 9:40 AM

BO08 = Bush 44.

Now’s the time to go on to all the leftie websites and push it back in their faces: “I was an Obama supporter, but this is getting carried too far…”, in a vein similar to what we endured for so long during the campaign.

mr.blacksheep on July 3, 2009 at 9:41 AM

One of the best things we can do to destroy Barry is to start calling him George W. Obama….

sven10077 on July 3, 2009

How ironically delicious.

SKYFOX on July 3, 2009 at 9:42 AM

He’s no George W.

JellyToast on July 3, 2009 at 9:39 AM

agreed but Ogabe fan/voter/multiple voter was raised on a steady bleating Orwellian demonization of W.

Bush is gone, and our party suffered from having to defend him with more passion than he could be bothered to defend himself with….

tarring Ogabe with “W-2″ has the virtue of using the leftoids “work” against Bush against themselves and divorcing the GOP from its imputed “love” of W…

sven10077 on July 3, 2009 at 9:43 AM

That was then. This is now:

This should certainly replace the bogus “Hope and Change” mantra of the Obama Administration.

Baxter Greene on July 3, 2009 at 9:44 AM

on the cognitive dissonance front….I am looking forward to the show trials where the M$M get to play the part of the old bolsheviks….

sven10077 on July 3, 2009 at 9:40 AM

“Meet the New Bossbolsheviks, Same as the Old Bossbolsheviks?”

Johan Klaus on July 3, 2009 at 9:44 AM

One of the best things we can do to destroy Barry is to start calling him George W. Obama….

sven10077 on July 3, 2009 at 9:34 AM

I think I like Barack “burning” Bush

izoneguy on July 3, 2009 at 9:44 AM

Now’s the time to go on to all the leftie websites and push it back in their faces: “I was an Obama supporter, but this is getting carried too far…”, in a vein similar to what we endured for so long during the campaign.

mr.blacksheep on July 3, 2009 at 9:41 AM

That would be fun.

myrenovations on July 3, 2009 at 9:45 AM

Look out. This is the thin edge of the big wedge.
This admin wants above all else total control of the internet, since they have the so-called MSM in their pocket.
These kinds of laws combined with “hate-speech” or “fairness doctrine” or whatever you want to call it will be used to shut down sites and silence critics.
Once you have laws on the books those laws can be abused to illegally shut you up. Then you have to go to court and spend LARGE amounts of time and money to fight the action.
The Internet is the one big area of public discourse this control-freak Admin. can’t control right now. They want it BAD.

PaddyJ on July 3, 2009 at 9:45 AM

One of the best things we can do to destroy Barry is to start calling him George W. Obama….

sven10077 on July 3, 2009 at 9:34 AM

I prefer “President Hussein.”

And if not enough people get it, they will.

Shy Guy on July 3, 2009 at 9:49 AM

One of the best things we can do to destroy Barry is to start calling him George W. Obama….

sven10077 on July 3, 2009 at 9:34 AM

I have too much respect for W than to do that.

But I know what you mean.

bluelightbrigade on July 3, 2009 at 9:56 AM

tarring Ogabe with “W-2″ has the virtue of using the leftoids “work” against Bush against themselves and divorcing the GOP from its imputed “love” of W…

sven10077

I already said it was delicious. Now you’re just putting cream cheese icing on it. Not totally sold on “W-2″ though. May be a bit ambiguous for the great unwashed. Still loving “George W. Obama”.

SKYFOX on July 3, 2009 at 9:56 AM

President Amabo strikes again.

CK MacLeod on July 3, 2009 at 9:57 AM

Another Friday news dump for all those voters who actually believed The One meant what he said during the campaign.

cruadin on July 3, 2009 at 9:57 AM

Who is surprised by this? Candidate Obama and his cronies where too busy trying to get elected and didn’t have any idea what was in store for them after January 20th.

Hope to see some you at the Omaha Tea Party!!!

yoda on July 3, 2009 at 9:57 AM

More than the hypocrisy of Obama, it seems to me, was that many of the actions by the Bush Administration on national security were not extreme or out of the mainstream of executive actions during a time of war.

The outrage here isn’t just the backpedaling of Obama; it was the hysteria by people like Charles Savage and others on such matters as signing statements and other measures.

Good or bad, right or wrong, dangerous or not, what the Bush Administration did has a long presidential pedigree.

Phooey on our press.

SteveMG on July 3, 2009 at 9:58 AM

PaddyJ on July 3, 2009 at 9:45 AM

Affirmative. I wonder how long it will be before all encryption and VPNs are outlawed.

OldEnglish on July 3, 2009 at 10:01 AM

One of the best things we can do to destroy Barry is to start calling him George W. Obama….

sven10077 on July 3, 2009 at 9:34 AM

I call him (I can’t tell you what I actually call him as I’d be kicked off forever)

Jeff from WI on July 3, 2009 at 10:10 AM

Go forward a key comparison remains. Serious people never doubted Bush’s policies as regards private citizens. To date there have never been any abuses. In jumping ugly the left, to have something to say, always erected strawmen and then set them on fire claiming that Bush/Cheney wanted these powers to abuse the electorate. The adults knew better.

Now comes the test. Will Obama and crew show the same behaviour?

patrick neid on July 3, 2009 at 10:12 AM

Now’s the time to go on to all the leftie websites and push it back in their faces: “I was an Obama supporter, but this is getting carried too far…”, in a vein similar to what we endured for so long during the campaign.

mr.blacksheep on July 3, 2009 at 9:41 AM

That would be fun.

myrenovations on July 3, 2009 at 9:45 AM

Be sure to put on a HazMat suit first…

Del Dolemonte on July 3, 2009 at 10:13 AM

They, the current regime, had better expect to put me on the watch list, as after this round of Tea Parties, I’ll be visiting gob’ment sites plenty.

madmonkphotog on July 3, 2009 at 10:15 AM

The only way the NSA won’t access private-network traffic would be if they only looked at accesses from within the federal network, which would be pointless in preventing hack attacks on government servers.

Actually you’re very wrong on this point. All gov’ networks are filled with backdoors and with trust relationships into educational, medical, and business networks. The major problem with the various gov networks is insider threat. This not only from Gov employees sending data out but also from non-gov persons working their way through the various networks, exploiting vulnerabilities, taking data and sending out from a .gov system in a manner that looks like normal outbound traffic.

The problem with Chimpboy’s hijacked G-dubya plan is privacy. What they plan to do is little more than warrentless wiretapping.

saltyrover on July 3, 2009 at 10:15 AM

I hear ya knockin’ but you can’t come in!

HoustonRight on July 3, 2009 at 9:39 AM

HoustonRight, thank you for starting my day with Dave Edmunds in my head.

One important difference between Bush and Obama is that the former was consistently apolitical in his policies and the latter still seems to be in campaign mode six months into his presidency. I’m looking for statesmanship, but all I see is Chicago street politics and creeping socialism. Thus far the Obama administration is not good at respecting private boundaries.

I appreciate the stated purpose of the NSA plan in times of war, but I’m not sure Obama really believes we are at war. That said, he will get his way on this. As with the Bush implementation of the Patriot Act, my position is: Trust but verify.

Terrie on July 3, 2009 at 10:16 AM

One of the best things we can do to destroy Barry is to start calling him George W. Obama….

sven10077 on July 3, 2009 at 9:34 AM

Just left Huffpo pointing out the unconstitutionality of national health care. A lot of Huffsters over there are already calling him George Bush III. Thought it was somewhat telling.

jimmy2shoes on July 3, 2009 at 10:17 AM

They, the current regime, had better expect to put me on the watch list, as after this round of Tea Parties, I’ll be visiting gob’ment sites plenty.

madmonkphotog on July 3, 2009 at 10:15 AM

You should. But then again we should all be reading what our gov puts up on the various websites. Network defense relies on software to look for specific strings of data that identify an exploit. When the string is identified then the software will act according to what you want it to do. It may just data log what is happening, it may kill the connection and block that IP or it may redirect the traffic and quarantine the system….that’s just to name a few responses. As long as your connection does not look malicious you just become extra traffic….now if we get enough benign traffic to hit the servers, then we have a denial of service and that site or portion of the network is rendered useless for a period of time.

saltyrover on July 3, 2009 at 10:24 AM

Just left Huffpo pointing out the unconstitutionality of national health care. A lot of Huffsters over there are already calling him George Bush III. Thought it was somewhat telling.

jimmy2shoes on July 3, 2009 at 10:17 AM

WOW !!!!

We need to become agent provocateurs. Go to kos and hufpo and start planting the seeds that , say the more he acts the more he acts like W, and that’s NOT He promised, and that if we wanted W the III we would have voted for Mccain.
At least we would have known what we are getting , not all these lies and double speak.

ColdWarrior57 on July 3, 2009 at 10:27 AM

President Baracky Ogabe: Fascist.

Bishop on July 3, 2009 at 10:30 AM

One of the best things we can do to destroy Barry is to start calling him George W. Obama….

sven10077 on July 3, 2009 at 9:34 AM

Actually, it might destry him faster if we started saying that maybe he is learning a thing or two and is starting to be a more reasonable and CONSERVITIVE President after all. That should make the left explode. Or we could call him Bush III.

MikeA on July 3, 2009 at 10:31 AM

on the cognitive dissonance front….I am looking forward to the show trials where the M$M get to play the part of the old bolsheviks….

sven10077 on July 3, 2009 at 9:40 AM

“Meet the New Bossbolsheviks, Same as the Old Bossbolsheviks?”

Johan Klaus on July 3, 2009 at 9:44 AM

Oh, fear not, it’s coming guys. Just have patience…

One Against Many on July 3, 2009 at 10:44 AM

Ed it almost sounds like you are for more government intervention in the private sector… I know I must be wrong… Why do you think the government can do a better job at securing our network then the private company who owns it?

Also you said this is not a privacy issue. How do you see that? If the government has control of the network then they have access almost unlimited information on citizens. It wouldnt take much for them to set up sniffers to capture key word searches, email passwords and more.

offroadaz on July 3, 2009 at 10:51 AM

Perhaps we could print up a new bumper sticker:

O = W

complete with the Obama O used during the campaign.

Agent of the Cross on July 3, 2009 at 10:58 AM

I honestly don’t know if I should be happy or upset. What worries me is the motive behind this policy update. So far, I don’t get a strong impression that President Obama is more interested in protecting us against terrorists as he is in consolidating power. It may look like Bush, but it may be anything but.

Danzo on July 3, 2009 at 10:58 AM

The dems will abuse this and too the extreme.

tomas on July 3, 2009 at 11:57 AM

The only way this can technicly work, is for each packets IP address to be disected to see if its going to a .gov address… or .mil

That means that each packet going through the router will have a stateful inspection, and a DNS reverse lookup, because the Gov IP addresses are all over the range of IPs…. they do no hold a single block of asdresses.

Thats a HUGE load on DNS, as it will take at least 4 packets generated to a DNS server for each new discrete IP address the router has to deal with.

Also, many many places do NOT configure reverse DNS lookup zones… therefore my guess is they will send any “unidentified” packet through their NSA filters as well…

This will also force every .gov or .mil into the PUBLIC DNS system… makes it difficult to do Private zones (or, at least the companies running the routers will need this info).

Wow… ugly…

Romeo13 on July 3, 2009 at 12:09 PM

He is half black How do we express George W Obama/2?

George W. Obama version 1.2?

How about Little George? Having a Little George moment?

seven on July 3, 2009 at 12:36 PM

The problem is not that Obama is doing what President Bush (that sounds so right) did, it is that he will likely take it further. With President Bush you knew his intent was not to control the U.S. populace, but I’m not nearly as confident about Obama.

Christian Conservative on July 3, 2009 at 12:41 PM

Calling him George W. Obama isn’t right….it would be more correct to say he’s Barry H. Bush, that would more align him with Bush than the other way around.

His surveillance program will no doubt be far more intrusive than Bush’s was too. Barry Chavez will no doubt start screening for more than destructive code, what I believe he plans on doing is the equivalent of the Watergate break in to help insure coming election victories for himself and his cronies.

From there it’s a small matter to start harassing the opposition. Like email? Like forums and blogs? Better watch what you say from now on. Orwellian yes, but this is Obama, and he’s been trained in Chicago and has the mindset of the African colonial marxists.

Expect the worst and you won’t be surprised.

Spiritk9 on July 3, 2009 at 12:47 PM

I won’t ever leave while you want me to stay
Nothing you could do that would turn me away
Hanging on every word
Believing the things I heard
Being a fool
You’ve taken my life, so take my soul
That’s what you said and I believed it all
I want to be with you as long
As you want me to
I won’t move away
Ain’t that what you said?
Ain’t that what you said?
Ain’t that what you said?
Liar, liar, liar
May I see no night
May I see no day
If I ever leave while you want me to stay
You can believe in me
I won’t be leaving
I won’t let you go
Ain’t that what you said?
Ain’t that what you said?
Ain’t that what you said?
Liar, liar, liar

Knott Buyinit on July 3, 2009 at 12:48 PM

I don’t like calling Obama Bush 2 because that assumes the left was right about Bush and they weren’t.

Obama is vindicating Bush. Obama is a hypocrite for not coming out and admitting he and his were wrong on just about everything Bush.

Obama is the #1 hypocrite in the world… does that make him the worst person in the world… I think so.

petunia on July 3, 2009 at 1:24 PM

“Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority,and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end”

R. J. Wiedemann
LtCol. USMC Retired

I do thank BOBO for all the Transparency from his Administration though. I have no trouble being able to see all the FLIP-FLOPPING that is going on!!!
2010 is coming quickly and all you Dems that have realized you made a big mistake voting for this guy need to start talking to your friends NOW!!

Eagles Dominion on July 3, 2009 at 2:06 PM

Romeo13 on July 3, 2009 at 12:09 PM

Other issues are VPNs, tunneling and encryption. If you compromise a machine at a medical facility or university that rides on one of the many VPN connections back into the .gov networks you reduce your risk of detection. Once in, take the data you want, encrypt it and send it out the front door with all the CNN, Fox News requests, and “joke-of-the-day” e-mails. It costs way too much to watch outbound traffic and despite the BS out of Hollywood, NSA and the entire US Gov combined doesn’t have the manpower or computing power to handle sniffing the trillions of packets that travel both into and out of the .gov networks. They will sample and they will be forced to search for strings which means they will always be playing catch up to the bad guys……just like they are now….but instead, we can “feel good” about our information security because Chimpboy says we are doing a fantastic job now that he has spent another $500B on network security. You all know that money can buy happiness, economic equality, world peace, and prosperity; you just have to spend, spend, spend.

saltyrover on July 3, 2009 at 3:16 PM

If Obama has actually reviewed and analyzed Bush’s TSP program and concluded that it is required to protect America against its enemies, then I wholeheartedly give due credit to Obama.

But if one looks at it cynically, how easy would it be to use this surveillance to act against his political enemies? Can he use it to attack whistle blowers or even proactively “discourage” whistle blowers?

What safeguards are present to prevent political abuse of the program? Does FISA or FISA-like structure exist?

How much of a fuss will EFF make? Will the same Congress people who howled at Bush for using TSP now howl at Obama for not only continuing to use TSP but also expanding it?

md on July 3, 2009 at 10:51 PM

How much of a fuss will EFF make? Will the same Congress people who howled at Bush for using TSP now howl at Obama for not only continuing to use TSP but also expanding it?

md on July 3, 2009 at 10:51 PM

of course not….

That’s OUR totalitarianism now

//moonbat

sven10077 on July 3, 2009 at 10:56 PM