Good news: Obama says NSA spying is “transparent”

posted at 9:21 pm on June 17, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

Well, I don’t know what more assurance I could need. From an interview with Charlie Rose that airs tonight on PBS:

Charlie Rose: Should this be transparent in some way?

Barack Obama: It is transparent. That’s why we set up the FISA court…. The whole point of my concern, before I was president — because some people say, “Well, you know, Obama was this raving liberal before. Now he’s, you know, Dick Cheney.” Dick Cheney sometimes says, “Yeah, you know? He took it all lock, stock, and barrel.” My concern has always been not that we shouldn’t do intelligence gathering to prevent terrorism, but rather are we setting up a system of checks and balances? So, on this telephone program, you’ve got a federal court with independent federal judges overseeing the entire program. And you’ve got Congress overseeing the program, not just the intelligence committee and not just the judiciary committee — but all of Congress had available to it before the last reauthorization exactly how this program works.

You keep using this word transparent. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Right before this exchange, Rose asks how often FISA actually turns down a request. The answer is almost never, bringing into question how much of a check or balance it can realistically be. Behold the dodge:

Charlie Rose: So I hear you saying, I have no problem with what NSA has been doing.

Barack Obama: Well, let me — let me finish, because I don’t. So, what happens is that the FBI — if, in fact, it now wants to get content; if, in fact, it wants to start tapping that phone — it’s got to go to the FISA court with probable cause and ask for a warrant.
Charlie Rose: But has FISA court turned down any request?

Barack Obama: The — because — the — first of all, Charlie, the number of requests are surprisingly small… number one. Number two, folks don’t go with a query unless they’ve got a pretty good suspicion.

Regardless of whether you like or dislike the NSA’s programs, can’t we all concede it and the secret FISA court of secret rulings that govern it are not “transparent?” It’d be a more honest argument for the president to say they can’t be transparent in order to work correctly, but that the FISA checks and balances are sufficient. To claim they’re “transparent” just sounds silly.

Obama’s just repeating speeches from 2008, paired with demonstrable proof that he’s not interested in acting out the beliefs in those speeches, and expecting us all to move on, satisfied that his guiding hand will prevent abuse. His assurances have held great power in the past, but exactly what would make us think they’re worth anything now? Sure, it’s politically advantageous for him to declare on Benghazi, NSA, IRS (not to mention ERA and State Department), “We have noted your concerns and there’s an investigation underway, now let’s get back to exactly what I’d like to talk about, and don’t I give an awesome speech?”

But that’s not good enough. Obama has allowed abuses to happen on his watch, his administration has floated somewhere between malice and utter incompetence letting them go on, and none of the institutional backstops or failsafes have worked to prevent them or punish those responsible.

According to news out of the State Department, the inspector general process has been actively prevented from doing its job policing agencies. But we’re all supposed to move on with the assurance that Eric Holder is investigating Eric Holder, the IGs will get everything straight, and Obama’s watching over all of it with a trustworthy moral compass. Um, those are the promises that got us here.

And, when someone who trusted in that promise and sees it broken steps out of line?

The State Department investigator who accused colleagues last week of using drugs, soliciting prostitutes, and having sex with minors says that Foggy Bottom is now engaged in an “intimidation” campaign to stop her.

Last week’s leaks by Aurelia Fedenisn, a former State Department inspector general investigator, shined a light on alleged wrongdoing by U.S. officials around the globe. But her attorney Cary Schulman tells The Cable that Fedenisn has paid a steep price: “They had law enforcement officers camp out in front of her house, harass her children and attempt to incriminate herself.”

There are two of them:

Kerry Howard says she was bullied, harassed and forced to resign after she exposed US Consul General Donald Moore’s alleged security-threatening shenanigans in the Naples, Italy, office.

“It’s cover-up after cover-up. It’s absolutely hideous,” she told The Post. “When our diplomats disrespect the Italians by hiring and firing them because they have seen too much — or use them for ‘sex-ercise’ — we have to question why we have diplomats abroad at taxpayer expense.”

So that’s another whistleblower bullied by Hillary’s State goons for speaking up about misbehavior.

In addition, the underlying misconduct is about abusing people in the host country of a consulate. Our diplomatic corps is there to make us look good, right?

Transparent does have another meaning, I suppose.

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Well, it is NOW!

ThePrez on June 17, 2013 at 9:22 PM

Obama says NSA spying is “transparent”

Well, there you go!

Let’s move on to the next issue that “the American people really care about” and call it a day.

I’m on board. Thank you, Mr. President.

/s

Dr. ZhivBlago on June 17, 2013 at 9:23 PM

Well, at least he is consistent.

VegasRick on June 17, 2013 at 9:26 PM

My concern has always been not that we shouldn’t do intelligence gathering to prevent terrorism, but rather are we setting up a system of checks and balances?

Well, no. What we have is a system of rubber stamps.

Curtiss on June 17, 2013 at 9:29 PM

ThePrez on June 17, 2013 at 9:22 PM

Beat me to it…

Skywise on June 17, 2013 at 9:30 PM

Number two, folks don’t go with a query unless they’ve got a pretty good suspicion.

that’s sweet. Can you even start to imagine the exploding media heads of that would start right about Now if an R said that?

having said that…Rs are not worth supporting just because they are vilified in the press. Many conservatives support them because they are attacked so venomously from the left. It is a natural reaction.

but really, Rs only deserve support if, and only if, they do what is in the interest of this country….and, no, i don’t mean meatpackers, home builders, KFC, et al. I mean the country

r keller on June 17, 2013 at 9:31 PM

To them, but not to us, until recently. Ungood.

Philly on June 17, 2013 at 9:33 PM

Insurance premiums are going down 3000%.

Put that in your profits and earnings ratio and smoke it.

tom daschle concerned on June 17, 2013 at 9:34 PM

Team SCOAMT is about as transparent as 3 feet of mud.

Steve Eggleston on June 17, 2013 at 9:34 PM

Barack Obama: It is transparent. That’s why we set up the FISA court….

Nixon set up the FISA court. There is no “we” about it you rat eared tyrant. How’s the family enjoying the European vacation at our expense even while Americans are denied access to tours of the White House? What a filthy traitor you are.

Happy Nomad on June 17, 2013 at 9:35 PM

“The attack in Benghazi was caused by a YouTube video!”

Seven Percent Solution on June 17, 2013 at 9:35 PM

But that’s not good enough. Obama has allowed abuses to happen on his watch, his administration has floated somewhere between malice and utter incompetence letting them go on,

I do not think the word “allowed” means what you think it means. Directed, orchestrated, supervised, ordered…

All of those would be synonyms for the verb “allowed” if you were really being, you know, honest.

UnderstandingisPower on June 17, 2013 at 9:36 PM

I liked his speeches better in the original Austrian.

trubble on June 17, 2013 at 9:45 PM

“Well, you know, Obama was this raving liberal before. Now he’s, you know, Dick Cheney Sukarno.”

What a shocker!!

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on June 17, 2013 at 9:46 PM

BHO’s aims since before 2007 have been perfectly transparent to anyone who has been paying attention.

This administration’s Culture of Corruption keeps rolling right along.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on June 17, 2013 at 9:48 PM

The only things transparent here are our personal effects and dealings to the executive branch.

HICON on June 17, 2013 at 9:49 PM

Why is it that Obama (among other sociopaths) always lie when the truth is far far easier to manage?

Still waiting for my medical insurance rates to go down…you know, when Obamacare kicks in…somehow, my deductible went up and the amount I have to pay monthly has gone up substantially.

Still waiting for “all the facts” about Benghazi to be made public…Obama promised. Or Fast and Furious, for that matter. Americans were murdered…but Obama is sooo cool and suave and stuff…

Still waiting for all the facts (and names of people involved) in the IRS thingy to be presented to the public…as Obama promised.

Still waiting for a lot of what Obama promised, save one item.

I am not at all too keen on Obama’s fulfilling his promise to fundamentally change the way we are governed.

So…if I am skeptical about his view that all of this NSA stuff is transparent…well, just looking at the record thus far…it does not tend toward candor and transparency…not one iota.

coldwarrior on June 17, 2013 at 9:50 PM

The attack in Benghazi was caused by a YouTube video!

Seven Percent Solution on June 17, 2013 at 9:35 PM

Good point. That one was extremely transparent. Practically everyone – well, everyone here anyway – saw right through it.

Curtiss on June 17, 2013 at 9:51 PM

Well that’s a relief. Now that it’s been exposed, it’s transparent. Just like Zeros role in F&F, Benghazi, IRS, college transcripts, the list goes on and on. He is sort of right – they are now doing this stuff right in our faces.

ghostwalker1 on June 17, 2013 at 9:53 PM

But that’s not good enough. Obama has allowed abuses to happen on his watch,

“allowed”?? They have forced the abuses. Barky lives to abuse power and push every American process or system to failure. This has been his intent since the very beginning, quite obviously.

his administration has floated somewhere between malice and utter incompetence letting them go on,

His administration is pure malice. yes, they are an incompetent, stupid, inept bunch of idiots, but they are as evil as the day is long. Malevolent retards, all of them. Again, “letting them go on” … more like “pushing them to continue”.

and none of the institutional backstops or failsafes have worked to prevent them or punish those responsible.

The GOP leadership are a bunch of cowards and Vichy traitors. And crybabies. THey have utterly failed. SPectacularly failed, as seems to have been their intention. There’s nothing left to the GOP. That party needs to just die quickly. All that it is, at this point, is a bunch of useless idiots for the useful idiots of the left who do Barky Sukarno’s bidding in his quest to destroy America (which has been successful).

It’s time for a national divorce. It’s time for Americans to rid ourselves of these leftists, Indonesian dog-eaters and Vichy Republicans. Let them all have their own country that they can happily turn into a living hell, as they are so intent on doing. For the rest of us, an American state needs to be restored in this world. I have no desire to remain in the American Socialist Superstate with the America-hating idiots who have created it by fundamentally deforming what was left of America. It’s time to call it a day and be rid of these idiot scumbags.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on June 17, 2013 at 9:53 PM

NSA spying is “transparent”

Whew. What a relief. Reassurance from the man who is allergic to honesty.

Jackalope on June 17, 2013 at 9:56 PM

Obama: Transparency

Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Dasher on June 17, 2013 at 9:58 PM

“Transparent”

Translation….

My raw lust for power is……

itsspideyman on June 17, 2013 at 10:07 PM

Barack Obama: The — because — the — first of all, Charlie, the number of requests are surprisingly small… number one. Number two, folks don’t go with a query unless they’ve got a pretty good suspicion.

There you have it, Ladies and Gentleman – the former editor of the Harvard Law Review, Professor of Constitutional Law, and all-around smartest fella in the world.

Just for starters, I hope all the folks who complain about high conviction rates for minorities and being stopped for “driving while black” realize there problems wouldn’t have occurred if the authorities hadn’t had a “pretty good suspicion.”

I’m in awe of the nuance. /s

Drained Brain on June 17, 2013 at 10:14 PM

Republicans overwhelming for it, democrats overwhelmingly against the reauthorization of FISA which allowed NSA’s wiretapping to continue.

2010/2011
Patriot Act re-authorization
Republicans 196 FOR / 31 AGAINST
Democrats 54 FOR / 122 AGAINST

FISA Act re-authorization
Republicans 227 FOR / 7 AGAINST
Democrats 74 FOR /111 AGAINST

Here’s the votes link:
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/112-2012/h569?hr5949

What good is the Domestic spy program when, (despite being enacted before 9/11), it failed to prevent 9/11?

Unlike Snowden all 4 of these highly decorated senior NSA officials came forward during the Bush administration and leaked information to the press that the NSA was unlawfully conducting a Domestic spy program on its own citizens since BEFORE 9/11.

Thomas Andrews Drake is a former senior executive of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and a decorated United States Air Force and United States Navy veteran.

William Binney is a decorated Vietnam Veteran who worked at the Army Security Agency before going to the NSA as a former highly placed intelligence official with the United States National Security Agency (NSA) that turned whistleblower after more than 30 years with the agency.

J. Kirk Wiebe is a former NSA senior analyst who was awarded the Meritorious Civilian Service Award, NSA’s second highest distinction. Wiebe developed a revolutionary information processing system called ThinThread.

But the NSA wrongfully applied a component of the ThinThread system to illegally spy on the private communications of U.S. citizens so Wiebe became a whistleblower.

Russell D. Tice is a former intelligence analyst for the U.S. Air Force, Office of Naval Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and National Security Agency (NSA). During his nearly 20 year career with various United States government agencies, he conducted intelligence missions related to the Kosovo War, Afghanistan, the USS Cole bombing in Yemen, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

JustTheFacts on June 17, 2013 at 10:14 PM

there=their

Drained Brain on June 17, 2013 at 10:14 PM

Remember what happened to IG Walpin? The bullying (or firing) continues.

It is transparent that there is quite a bit of smoke and mirrors, spin, and obfuscation in this administration.

onlineanalyst on June 17, 2013 at 10:23 PM

The “surprisingly small number” is how many billion?

Even Georg Cantor would be saying, “Dude, that’s a big number.”

notropis on June 17, 2013 at 10:38 PM

The original intent was of all these Three Letter Initial (TNI)agencies was to protect the country but as politicization (all agencies are overwhelmingly beholden to one political party-the Democrats)and expansion (overpaid, overstaffed and incompetent–not to mention redundant))set in, corruption, abuse and arrogance soon followed.Now the only thing they protect are their jobs and they are a terror to everyone else (except the bad guys) and one would be much better protected by securing of borders and deportation of all illegals.

What is needed is, essentially, a purge of all government bureaus, administrations, services and agencies. Enormous layoffs, early retirements and, of course, stiff punishments for felons.

MaiDee on June 17, 2013 at 10:38 PM

Barry the Kenyan Dog-Eater, was, is, and always will be a lying sack of steaming fecal matter. Deserving nothing more than our total contempt & disrespect at all times, every millisecond of everyday, for now and forever.

You readin’ this NSA?

RavingLunatic on June 17, 2013 at 10:40 PM

A classified program is transparent?

Is Obama for real, does he really think…?

Oh, never mind.

Liam on June 17, 2013 at 10:46 PM

…it’s transparent in 7 of the 57 states!

KOOLAID2 on June 17, 2013 at 11:20 PM

Why is Charlie Rose dissing the prez?

Charlie’s laptop is gonna be powering up in the middle of the night now.

virgo on June 18, 2013 at 12:11 AM

Well, Barky is right. Even if he doesn’t intend to be.

The walls of all our homes and businesses are now transparent to Big Brother.

viking01 on June 18, 2013 at 12:13 AM

What strikes one about Snowden is his normalcy, as reflected in the live interview on the Guardian today. Here’s a piece from the Japan Times discussing his Japanophile nature. Again, it all seems quite normal, at least in terms of his background and interests. It’s in contrast to those whistle blowers who seem to have martyr complexes, or are just simply strange.

bobs1196 on June 18, 2013 at 12:14 AM

Why is Charlie Rose dissing the prez?

Charlie’s laptop is gonna be powering up in the middle of the night now.

virgo on June 18, 2013 at 12:11 AM

That’s tipsy Billy Moyers sneaking in and surfing porn in the middle of the night just like Bob Schieffer-brains sneaking in over at Sharyl Atkisson’s place.

viking01 on June 18, 2013 at 12:15 AM

Obama is as transparent as a dirty window.

Emphasis on dirty.

profitsbeard on June 18, 2013 at 12:21 AM

Right. Totally transparent. Secret program, overseen by a secret court, using secret orders, that encompass the entire country’s telephone communications.

And I’m not even talking about PRISM and the incredible police state wet dream that THAT is.

KMC1 on June 18, 2013 at 12:49 AM

Our president is a habitual liar. Period.

locomotivebreath1901 on June 18, 2013 at 6:18 AM

I agree with Obama when he says he’s not Dick Cheney.

Dick Cheney was competent.

AZCoyote on June 18, 2013 at 7:43 AM

[F]olks don’t go with a query unless they’ve got a pretty good suspicion.

You mean like they had a “pretty good suspicion” that James Rosen was engaged in espionage? And that wasn’t even the super secret FISA court that no one is overseeing.

Syzygy on June 18, 2013 at 7:51 AM

It is transparent in an African kind of way.

At least the IRS did not round them up and hack their limbs off like the SOP in his homeland.

acyl72 on June 18, 2013 at 7:59 AM

[F]olks don’t go with a query unless they’ve got a pretty good suspicion.

The type of person that turns his daughter over to be raped by subhuman animals conquerors so that they might live another couople of months as a cuckhold gerbil holder for them.

Makes Judas look like a saint.

acyl72 on June 18, 2013 at 8:06 AM

Does this guy have any idea in the world what he is doing or saying?

rplat on June 18, 2013 at 8:08 AM

unless they’ve got a pretty good suspicion.

Well, that’s a high standard, a “pretty good suspicion”…you mean like “I heard from a pretty good source that told someone who said that maybe he might be the one”

right2bright on June 18, 2013 at 8:19 AM

Barack Obama: The — because — the — first of all, Charlie, the number of requests are surprisingly small… number one. Number two, folks don’t go with a query unless they’ve got a pretty good suspicion.

Translation:
We look at the information first without oversight. We then know whether or not the person is in fact doing anything wrong. If they are doing something wrong we go and find other information on them that we can use to get a warrant to access the information that we already used to first determine this person was a suspect. If the person isn’t doing anything wrong, no one knows that we looked at their information anyways.

Let’s get an independent forensic IT person to compare the number of people’s info that was accessed to the number of actual warrants that FISA approved.

weaselyone on June 18, 2013 at 8:52 AM

notropis on June 17, 2013 at 10:38 PM

It is the NUMBER of requests that are surprisingly small

first of all, Charlie, the number of requests are surprisingly small

4 requests, for all the data from ATT, Verizon, Facebook and Google, is a small number or requests, but almost all the data sent through the internet. Correct statement, totally misleading in the response.

Typical.

gonnjos on June 18, 2013 at 9:18 AM

“What I’ve said, and I continue to believe, is that we don’t have to sacrifice our freedom in order to achieve security. That’s a false choice. That doesn’t mean that there are not tradeoffs involved in any given program, in any given action that we take,” Obama told Rose. “To say there’s a tradeoff doesn’t mean somehow that we’ve abandoned freedom.” -Obooba

I have trouble calling this moron a master of anything, but he’s the master of straw men; even though this one doesn’t stand the slightest scrutiny.

We don’t have to sacrifice freedom to achieve security. But there are “tradeoffs” between the two.

This is like saying, “We don’t have to sacrifice our money to enjoy pizza, that’s a false choice. But that doesn’t mean that there are not tradeoffs… to say there’s a tradeoff doesn’t mean that we’ve abandoned money.”

Both “sacrifice” and “tradeoff” basically mean letting go of something. So he’s using practical synonyms to contradict himself, assured that the lowinfos out there won’t notice.

Akzed on June 18, 2013 at 9:48 AM

“We only look at the data if we need a warrant, and if the data says we should get a warrant, we do, so we can then use the data,” is basically how this whole thing works.

I’ve watched enough Law and Order to know that this kind of police work is not approved of by sane judges.

Akzed on June 18, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Yeah, the spying is transparent to all who choose to see the ugly truth, in spite of his best efforts to cover it up with denial.

Don L on June 18, 2013 at 10:07 AM

If the requests are so small then the sacrifice and tradeoff of our freedom are not justified–ditto the airport hyper security.

Don L on June 18, 2013 at 10:10 AM

The State Department investigator who accused colleagues last week of using drugs, soliciting prostitutes, and having sex with minors says that Foggy Bottom is now engaged in an “intimidation” campaign to stop her.

But the State Department loves transparency, especially those see-through dresses on the prostitutes.

The problem was that Ms. Fedenisn and Ms. Howard were wearing non-transparent clothing, so they were no fun for the State Department guys.

Steve Z on June 18, 2013 at 10:31 AM

It is transparent. That’s why we set up the FISA court.

“We”? It was set up in 1978 when Obama was in high school.

J.S.K. on June 18, 2013 at 11:16 AM