Obama: Snowden’s not a patriot, but here are some long overdue NSA reforms that he forced me to make

posted at 4:41 pm on August 9, 2013 by Allahpundit

Two big headlines from today’s presser. One is that, after pretending to care about them as a senator in order to get elected and then basically forgetting about them for five years as president, O’s finally ready to pursue reforms to the NSA’s domestic surveillance apparatus. As summarized by National Journal:

1. Reform the USA PATRIOT Act program that collects telephone programs.

2. Work with Congress to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to introduce an “independent voice” that would “make sure the government’s position is challenged by an adversary.”

3. Increase transparency. The Department of Justice will be making public the legal rationale for the collection of data. A website will also be created as “a hub” for further transparency.

4. A “high-level group of outside experts” will be formed for “new thinking, for a new era.” The independent group will be asked to review surveillance technologies, to ensure there is no abuse and find how the programs can maintain the trust of the public.

The second headline is that the guy whose leaks created this political shinolastorm over surveillance is, according to O, assuredly not a patriot, even though no one but no one thinks Obama would have pushed these reforms if not for Snowden’s revelations. Help me square that circle. It’s not a hopeless contradiction; you can believe that Snowden’s initial leaks about PRISM and domestic data-gathering were legit whistleblowing while also believing that he’s since veered into Wikileaks-style antagonism towards the U.S. government with no obvious benefits to civil liberties. But it’s surreal to see The One essentially stipulate that Snowden’s critique of NSA procedures is valid, enough so that a presidential press conference is necessary to introduce reforms responding to his concerns, and then dismiss the guy as a fake patriot because he didn’t stay put and invoke statutory whistleblower protection in the blind hope that the feds wouldn’t give him the full Bradley Manning treatment. Read Lavabit’s shutdown message yesterday about a “fight for the Constitution” if you haven’t already. Would that sort of catalyzing, awareness-raising gambit have happened without Snowden? If Obama cared about the expansions of the surveillance state on the merits rather than as a political fire he has to put out, he would have held this presser in 2009.

Exit question: How independent can the new “independent voice” at the FISA Court be if it’s not allowed to communicate with the targets of surveillance for national security reasons? Are the feds going to build their own ACLU/public defender bureau to secretly represent people suspected of terror links, unbeknownst to them?


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The other big news out of this presser is that Republicans want to deny 30 million Americans access to health care and that Obamacare is just like an iPad.

Doughboy on August 9, 2013 at 4:49 PM

So Obama thinks he can unilaterally pick and choose what laws to enforce, but he needs Congress’ help to curb an executive-branch agency. Man, for a Constitutional law professor, he sure seems fuzzy on how the Constitution works.

Fabozz on August 9, 2013 at 4:50 PM

Big Brother will investigate and reform the overzealous spies who are watching you at all times!

sharrukin on August 9, 2013 at 4:50 PM

But Obama is a patriot?

celtic warrior on August 9, 2013 at 4:52 PM

If you are an American Citizen, even one thought to be a terrorist, the government MUST AFFORD YOU FULL CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS, including, no secret courts.
Otherwise, the arbitrary SUSPECTED tag can take any and all rights away from any and all American citizens, regardless of actual ties to terrorism.

astonerii on August 9, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Obama: Snowden’s not a patriot, but here are some long overdue NSA reforms that he forced me to make

Let’s break this down….

Snowden isn’t a patriot because he took classified information and released it publicly embarrassing the President and his Administration – but if he did it against a Republican Administration, he would have Obama’s unqualified support….

….Oh, and Barack Obama implemented some ‘long overdue NSA reforms’ to hide the violations of US laws that his Administration ordered / requested the NSA to undertake in order to protect the power and control of progressive Democrats now running the Federal Government.

Athos on August 9, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Obama is full of crap.

E L Frederick (Sniper One) on August 9, 2013 at 4:54 PM

Obama: Snowden’s not a patriot, but here are some long overdue NSA reforms that he forced me to make

Now thats funny right there…..

AllahP gettin’ his snark back on. And about time, too.

BobMbx on August 9, 2013 at 4:55 PM

invoke statutory whistleblower protection in the blind hope that the feds wouldn’t give him the full Bradley Manning treatment

Snowden was a contractor, and thus had no whistleblower protection.

He’s just lying again.

CTD on August 9, 2013 at 4:56 PM

1. Reform the USA PATRIOT Act program that collects telephone programs.

And expand

2. Work with Congress to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to introduce an “independent voice” that would “make sure the government’s position is challenged by an adversary.”

Namely the DNC

3. Increase transparency. The Department of Justice will be making public the legal rationale for the collection of data. A website will also be created as “a hub” for further transparency.

How much more transparency can we take.

4. A “high-level group of outside experts” will be formed for “new thinking, for a new era.” The independent group will be asked to review surveillance technologies, to ensure there is no abuse and find how the programs can maintain the trust of the public.

From within the IRS, FEC, and DOJ.

antipc on August 9, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Snowden was a contractor, and thus had no whistleblower protection.

He’s just lying again.

CTD on August 9, 2013 at 4:56 PM

We’re all contractors now.

CycloneCDB on August 9, 2013 at 5:00 PM

for a new era.

Simply Orwellian. Are there any scary words that can be uttered by the Executive of a representative form of government?

BobMbx on August 9, 2013 at 5:05 PM

The other big news out of this presser is that Republicans want to deny 30 million Americans access to health care and that Obamacare is just like an iPad.

Doughboy on August 9, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Funny, I don’t remember Congress passing a law forcing me to buy an iPad.

RedRedRice on August 9, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Like this nitwit has ever done what he said he would do. Liar liar pants on fire.

johnny reb on August 9, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Snowden, even as a contractor, had options for ‘whistleblowing’ the information he obtained – via an IG’s office, via his employer, Booz Allen, or via Congress.

He wasn’t interested in being a ‘whistleblower’….he was interested in being an activist. He took the job with Booz Allen under false pretenses, lying on his application and other materials, in order to gain access to classified information and release it to Wikileaks / anti-US press like the UK’s hard left Guardian newspaper (via Glenn Greenwald). Snowden was in communication with the press prior to applying for the Booz Allen job in Hawaii.

Snowden’s in asylum in Russia because he knows he will get the full Bradley Manning treatment because fundamentally he did exactly what Manning did for pretty much the same reasons.

At best you can call Snowden and Manning useful idiots for Wikileaks and the rest of the anti-US hard left press that seek to damage the US.

Athos on August 9, 2013 at 5:09 PM

Here’s the first response to todays’ presser.

Let the good times roll.

BobMbx on August 9, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Meh, who can believe him after 5 years of his broken promises. Why was it ok with him to run things this way for as long as he has been? Did he even know what was going on, or did he approve these programs? Was he going to continue along this path if Snowden hadn’t spilled the beans? He should have known this was wrong all along. Sheesh. Commander by a$$. He took these programs to a whole new level because he thought he could get away with it.

scalleywag on August 9, 2013 at 5:13 PM

Eleven months after Benghazi he’s still keeping secrets about it. No transparency there. The IRS investigation? A joke. Now he expects people to believe he’s going to fix this set of problems? Right. When pigs fly.

scalleywag on August 9, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Snowden, even as a contractor, had options for ‘whistleblowing’ the information he obtained – via an IG’s office, via his employer, Booz Allen, or via Congress.

Athos on August 9, 2013 at 5:09 PM

Do you know who Thomas Drake is, or William Binney or Kirk Wiebe?

Do you know who Edward Snowden is?

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/06/16/snowden-whistleblower-nsa-officials-roundtable/2428809/

For years, the three whistle-blowers had told anyone who would listen that the NSA collects huge swaths of communications data from U.S. citizens. They had spent decades in the top ranks of the agency, designing and managing the very data-collection systems they say have been turned against Americans. When they became convinced that fundamental constitutional rights were being violated, they complained first to their superiors, then to federal investigators, congressional oversight committees and, finally, to the news media.

To the intelligence community, the trio are villains who compromised what the government classifies as some of its most secret, crucial and successful initiatives. They have been investigated as criminals and forced to give up careers, reputations and friendships built over a lifetime.

sharrukin on August 9, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Let the good times roll.

BobMbx on August 9, 2013 at 5:12 PM

How about a little warning next time, my head almost caught a frying pan, geesh.

Good stuff though.

antipc on August 9, 2013 at 5:21 PM

Exit question: How independent can the new “independent voice” at the FISA Court be if it’s not allowed to communicate with the targets of surveillance for national security reasons? Are the feds going to build their own ACLU/public defender bureau to secretly represent people suspected of terror links, unbeknownst to them?

Yeah, it’s not easy to do, if you are actually trying to do something constructive to solve a real problem. But the purpose of this blather is to create the illusion of caring and doing something. Nothing he proposes actually needs to be remotely effective at dealing with the real problem. It just needs to advance the narrative. The unending BS narrative.

Obama cares. Obama is Taking Steps. Time to move on (from phony scandals).

novaculus on August 9, 2013 at 5:21 PM

Obama is a leftist. They have been looking for a way to do damage to the NSA since they found out it existed. Obama is probably glad Snowden gave him an excuse.

Count to 10 on August 9, 2013 at 5:24 PM

Its all B S.

Bmore on August 9, 2013 at 5:26 PM

If Obama says it, it is a lie. If Carney says it the opposite is true.

pat on August 9, 2013 at 5:29 PM

We wouldn’t be talking about the NSA’s overreach and its collusion with other agencies but for Edward Snowden.

Resist We Much on August 9, 2013 at 5:31 PM

sharrukin on August 9, 2013 at 5:18 PM

I’m aware of those three – and their efforts to oppose policies that they personally believe that have crossed the line – including the Patriot Act, FISA, and other methods of surveillance / elint expanded since 9.11.01.

They were unable to find anyone within the Executive, Judicial, or Legislative branches who accepted their viewpoint / opinion.

Now one can believe that everyone in those branches is part of the conspiracy / problem or they can believe that the issues those three raised were based on a personal disagreement / opinion and largely unsubstantiated.

That goes hand in hand with the question as to whether or not one believes that Snowden / Manning were / are patriots or criminals. If one’s bias says that Snowden / Manning are patriots – then one will point to those three as proof just as 9.11 truthers point to WTC 7 as proof of that conspiracy.

Where there is real questions, particularly around Snowden (and the others) with Congress is – did Administration officials (Bush and Obama) lie / misrepresent to Congress what they were doing and do so with such conviction that none in Congress, even those opposed in principle to those surveillance efforts, that they didn’t want to take the issues forward?

Athos on August 9, 2013 at 5:36 PM

We wouldn’t be talking about the NSA’s overreach and its collusion with other agencies but for Edward Snowden.

Resist We Much on August 9, 2013 at 5:31 PM

End of story.

BobMbx on August 9, 2013 at 5:37 PM

O’s finally ready to pursue reforms to the NSA’s domestic surveillance apparatus.

So y’all remember all those telecasts on C-Span during the Obamacare debates ?

burrata on August 9, 2013 at 5:38 PM

If one’s bias says that Snowden / Manning are patriots – then one will point to those three as proof just as 9.11 truthers point to WTC 7 as proof of that conspiracy.

That’s simply idiotic.

Where there is real questions, particularly around Snowden (and the others) with Congress is – did Administration officials (Bush and Obama) lie / misrepresent to Congress what they were doing and do so with such conviction that none in Congress, even those opposed in principle to those surveillance efforts, that they didn’t want to take the issues forward?

Athos on August 9, 2013 at 5:36 PM

We know that they have lied and they are on video doing exactly that, so what are you trying to argue here?

James Clapper Apologizes for Lying to Congress About NSA Surveillance

sharrukin on August 9, 2013 at 5:43 PM

Always talking out of both sides of his mouth. He’s always done this. It’s how he covers his azz on most topics.

Mimzey on August 9, 2013 at 5:51 PM

Who gives a damn what this community national agitator has to say anymore?

None of what he said at this presser will actually happen. Just more promises with expiration dates and other untruths.

Bitter Clinger on August 9, 2013 at 5:53 PM

We wouldn’t be talking about the NSA’s overreach and its collusion with other agencies but for Edward Snowden.

Resist We Much on August 9, 2013 at 5:31 PM

I agree. However, his actions since then have been anything but patriotic. It’s like AP has said: You can believe both that he’s a whistle-blower AND a traitor.

Bitter Clinger on August 9, 2013 at 5:56 PM

Obama only does stuff when he’s cornered.

portlandon on August 9, 2013 at 6:12 PM

http://nationalreview.com/corner/355416/obama-gets-it-right-nsa-reforms-fred-fleitz

President Obama took the right approach during his press conference today by proposing reforms to the NSA’s programs that will allow for more congressional oversight and make more information available to the American people about programs involving cell-phone data and Internet use. He correctly noted that, despite all the disclosures by Edward Snowden, no evidence has been produced to suggest that NSA has abused cell-phone or Internet-monitoring programs to spy on the American people. The president said this is because there are protections in place to ensure these programs are not abused, but also agreed steps should be taken to reassure the American people. I think such reforms are inevitable given growing outrage over the NSA programs in Congress.

I know the Obama administration is engulfed in scandals involving the IRS and investigating journalists. As a former intelligence officer, I see the NSA story as completely separate. The president did the right thing today

jp on August 9, 2013 at 6:12 PM

Lawless Administration To Enact “Reforms.” Holder Has Fingers Crossed While Nodding Like Bobble Doll.

News at ten.

viking01 on August 9, 2013 at 6:28 PM

Do we have any evidence that Snowden has ‘veered into Wikileaks’ style information leaking?

cynccook on August 9, 2013 at 6:39 PM

As for Snowden getting whistle blower status; does anyone remember Walpin?

FOWG1 on August 9, 2013 at 6:41 PM

Here’s the first response to todays’ presser.

Let the good times roll.

BobMbx on August 9, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Darn. I was hoping it was going to be this…

cynccook on August 9, 2013 at 6:42 PM

4. A “high-level group of outside experts” will be formed for “new thinking, for a new era.” The independent group will be asked to review surveillance technologies, to ensure there is no abuse and find how the programs can maintain the trust of the public.

From within the IRS, FEC, and DOJ.

antipc on August 9, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Nah – it will come from Google (motto – “Don’t Be Conservative!”)

Steve Eggleston on August 9, 2013 at 6:51 PM

Do we have any evidence that Snowden has ‘veered into Wikileaks’ style information leaking?

cynccook on August 9, 2013 at 6:39 PM

Other than WikiLeaks funding Snowden’s trip to freedom Communist servitude and the sharing of favored anti-Western presstitute organs?

Steve Eggleston on August 9, 2013 at 6:53 PM

Other than WikiLeaks funding Snowden’s trip to freedom Communist servitude and the sharing of favored anti-Western presstitute organs?

Steve Eggleston on August 9, 2013 at 6:53 PM

Yeah, besides those events. Any real evidence of damaging disclosures that have affected our national security?

cynccook on August 9, 2013 at 7:04 PM

Best speech obama ever gave, without prompter.

Schadenfreude on August 9, 2013 at 7:06 PM

Yeah, besides those events. Any real evidence of damaging disclosures that have affected our national security?

cynccook on August 9, 2013 at 7:04 PM

Specific examples of spying on our allies and should-be-enemies alike at various multilateral conferences.

Steve Eggleston on August 9, 2013 at 7:10 PM

Specific examples of spying on our allies and should-be-enemies alike at various multilateral conferences.

Steve Eggleston on August 9, 2013 at 7:10 PM

Whoa. Do you have any links for that?

cynccook on August 9, 2013 at 7:12 PM

Whoa. Do you have any links for that?

cynccook on August 9, 2013 at 7:12 PM

Go search the HA archvies (or if you prefer, which you probably do, the Guardian’s archives). I’m not doing your homework for you.

Steve Eggleston on August 9, 2013 at 7:38 PM

How would obama know what a patriot looks like, every time he looks in the mirror Benedict Arnold keeps flashing in the mirror

crosshugger on August 9, 2013 at 7:48 PM

“The duty of a patriot is to protect his country from its government.”

–Thomas Paine

DrDeano on August 9, 2013 at 7:53 PM

jp on August 9, 2013 at 6:12 PM

Interesting link…

Some more of interest from Mr. Fleitz

Preventing Future Snowden’s….

Of note is some additional information and perspective on one of three previous NSA ‘whistleblowers’ cited earlier….Thomas Drake…

Three former NSA employees, including Thomas Drake, have claimed they tried to use various legal avenues — including speaking with the congressional intelligence committees — to raise their concerns about NSA programs that they believe broke the law. They claim that when they didn’t get anywhere with the intelligence committees, they decided to leak to the news media. From my work on the House Intelligence Committee staff, I find this hard to believe. Moreover, an important issue here is that these so-called whistleblowers ignored the possibility that they might have been wrong about the NSA programs to which they were objecting. (A former senior intelligence official told me he believes Drake did not fully understand the NSA programs he objected to.)

Drake was indicted for lying and obstruction of justice in an investigation of leaks of classified information to a reporter. These charges could have sent Drake to prison for the rest of his life, but the government’s case against him fell apart, and he pleaded guilty to a minor charge in a plea deal. He now works for an Apple store. It is unfortunate that the news media has lionized Drake as a hero. I believe he should be in prison.

A common fallacy is to take selected (you could say ‘cherry picked’) facts and then use them to link to fit a preconceived conclusion…as in the collapse of WTC 7 being ‘proof’ of a government conspiracy around 9.11 which someone didn’t like as an example. Sorry, it fits.

Let’s see what we had here then – three ‘whistleblowers’ of NSA who complained about Patriot Act / FISA / Surveillance under the previous Administration, then we have the Obama Admin DNI lying to Congress, combined with the other history of the Obama Admin, and sympathetic belief that Snowden is a patriot, and ergo, he is a patriot and the NSA surveillance is in violation of US law despite the vast majority in Congress who have been briefed on the programs not agreeing with it.

….oh, and ergo, I’m part of the problem too because I don’t think Snowden is a patriot either.

(Well at least we didn’t have to recover the Ellsburg / Pentagon Paper justification for Snowden’s actions…)

I suggest the entire NRO article be read – what is proposed makes a lot of sense going forward.

Athos on August 9, 2013 at 7:57 PM

Obama as usual spoke and said nothing at all. That is all dems are good for.

Disgusting.

I wish the proverbial “elephant” were sitting squarely on Obama’s pie hole.

Sherman1864 on August 9, 2013 at 8:05 PM

We wouldn’t be talking about the NSA’s overreach and its collusion with other agencies but for Edward Snowden.

Resist We Much on August 9, 2013 at 5:31 PM

We never should be discussing the NSA at all. The NSA isn’t overreaching.

Count to 10 on August 9, 2013 at 8:51 PM

Athos on August 9, 2013 at 7:57 PM

Who’s a good boy? Huh? Who’s a good boy? Awwww. Ok, here’s your biscuit! (Paraphrasing Sam Adams)

iwasbornwithit on August 9, 2013 at 8:58 PM

Here ya go Rover:

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

iwasbornwithit on August 9, 2013 at 9:00 PM

Athos would rather quote NRO than this:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

iwasbornwithit on August 9, 2013 at 9:03 PM

As for Snowden getting whistle blower status; does anyone remember Walpin?

FOWG1 on August 9, 2013 at 6:41 PM

If you are saying that this all might have been avoided if the REB and his crew treated whistleblowers better, and if Congress had a way to really protect them, that’s a good point.

It’s way too late for him now though.

slickwillie2001 on August 9, 2013 at 9:14 PM

Obama is a leftist. They have been looking for a way to do damage to the NSA since they found out it existed. Obama is probably glad Snowden gave him an excuse.

Count to 10 on August 9, 2013 at 5:24 PM

He’s also a statist, which blows your point out of the water.

MadisonConservative on August 9, 2013 at 9:40 PM

This is dumb.

Snowden should be pardoned because really who was ratting on and for whom? He spied for you and me… for everyone. He was more our agent then the government’s and that was his great crime.

Was it unfortunate that he went to china and russia to protect himself? Sure. But what choice did he have in the matter. No one else would protect him. Seriously. Just pardon the guy so he can come home. He doesn’t want to stay in russia.

And then lets have a real deep conversation about the role of the NSA and the role of surveillance. Invite snowden to the conversation because frankly he knows things we need to know. Possibly we can hold the government’s feet to the fire long enough to actually get real reforms.

Please… we’re just looking weak and stupid to do anything else.

Karmashock on August 10, 2013 at 6:39 AM

Yadda yadda reform, yadda yadda make sure this doesn’t happen again, yadda yadda, appoint an oversight committee, yadda yadda transparency, yadda yadda work with congress. Prezzy vacay’s speeches get easier and easier for the speech writers to prepare. Just fill in a few blanks and there it is. At least for the next 10 days we’ll be treated to some real news of our vacationer in chief on a bike ride or eating an ice cream cone.

Kissmygrits on August 10, 2013 at 9:40 AM