USA Freedom and Obama's Doublespeak
By Philippe Gastonne - June 04, 2015

For the past eighteen months, I have called for reforms that better safeguard the privacy and civil liberties of the American people while ensuring our national security officials retain tools important to keeping Americans safe. That is why, today, I welcome the Senate's passage of the USA FREEDOM Act, which I will sign when it reaches my desk.

After a needless delay and inexcusable lapse in important national security authorities, my Administration will work expeditiously to ensure our national security professionals again have the full set of vital tools they need to continue protecting the country. Just as important, enactment of this legislation will strengthen civil liberty safeguards and provide greater public confidence in these programs, including by prohibiting bulk collection through the use of Section 215, FISA pen registers, and National Security Letters and by providing the American people with additional transparency measures.

I am gratified that Congress has finally moved forward with this sensible reform legislation. I particularly applaud Senators Leahy and Lee as well as Representatives Goodlatte, Sensenbrenner, Conyers, and Nadler for their leadership and tireless efforts to pass this important bipartisan legislative achievement. – Statement by President Obama, June 2, 2015

Almost everything the president says about the USA Freedom Act is false. He does not at all "welcome" the law's passage. If Obama had his way, Congress would have never even considered this law because the National Security Agency's illegal activities would still be secret.

The only reason any of this is happening is that Edward Snowden spilled the NSA beans. If the president truly welcomes surveillance reform, then he should thank Snowden instead of charging him with crimes against the state.

The president's claim to have himself called for reforms is laughable. His own Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, convened after the Snowden leaks, gave him 46 specific recommendations in its January 2014 report. To date, he has implemented exactly zero of them.

For example, Recommendation 31 said, "Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial systems."

This seem obvious. NSA shouldn't be in the electronic bank robbery business, nor should it "manipulate the financial system." We can infer from the president's rejection of this recommendation that the NSA does change bank balances and manipulate financial systems, and that he plans to continue doing so.

Does such activity safeguard anyone's privacy and civil liberties? Certainly not. Therefore, the president's claim to be pursuing those goals is demonstrably false.

Obama and his Warfare State handlers want all the NSA's snooping programs to proceed unimpeded by any external constraints. If the president had the slightest concern about safeguarding civil liberties, he would implement the recommendations of his own handpicked expert panel. He has not and evidently will not.

The claim that NSA activities do anything to protect the country is questionable at best. Numerous NSA officials say off the record that the agency is drowning in too much information. There is no evidence the programs have stopped any terrorist attacks. They may well have done the opposite by overwhelming the intelligence community's analysis abilities.

Why, then, is Obama so intent on collecting every possible byte of data from everywhere on the planet? One guess: The collection effort generates enormous revenues for the contractors who build and maintain NSA's systems. Whether it actually accomplishes anything useful is beside the point.

The fact that mainstream news media are not questioning this ludicrous presidential statement is also instructive. They either don't see the lies and contradictions in every sentence, or have no interest in reporting them critically.

If Obama is "gratified" by the USA Freedom Act, it is only because the law barely scratches the surface of necessary reforms. Its passage means he has another chance to proceed full speed ahead with his real plans while his compliant media moves on to other subjects.

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