Sunday, December 22, 2013


Image from ESL.culips.
This from the presidential task force on NSA abuse is a particularly valid response to an annoying thing Obama does a good deal:
It is tempting to suggest that the underlying goal is to achieve the right “balance” between the two forms of security. The suggestion has an important element of truth. But some safeguards are not subject to balancing at all. In a free society, public officials should never engage in surveillance in order to punish [jump]
their political enemies; to restrict freedom of speech or religion; to suppress legitimate criticism and dissent; to help their preferred companies or industries; to provide domestic companies with an unfair competitive advantage; or to benefit or burden members of groups defined in terms of religion, ethnicity, race, and gender.
Nevertheless, said Richard Clarke on NPR's On the Media, "The president was very pleased by the report." Me too, honestly. I am enthusiastic about taking control of the telephony metadata collection out of the hands of the NSA—as you know I don't believe the Obama administration has been misusing it in the way the Cheney administration may have done, but I'm not confident they haven't misused it at all, and I think it would be better not to tempt them. Also of course some kind of Cheneys will be back in the White House one day. Also especially glad for the recommendations to the FBI on warrantless National Security Letters and the associated gag orders, which I find a lot more frightening than anything I've yet heard about telephone and Internet spying.

It's nice, anyway, to see the universe-of-discourse space opening up to accommodate those who kind of like the president and distrust the national intelligence establishment at the same time. Listen to the Clarke interview if you get a chance.
“It is clear that whatever benefits . . . this particular program may have, may be outweighed by the concerns that people have on its potential abuse,” Obama said in his final news conference of the year. “And, if that’s the case, there may be another way of skinning the cat.”

Obama said he will make a “definitive statement” about the programs next month after considering his options during a two-week family vacation in Hawaii, which began Friday evening. “I’m taking this very seriously,” he said. (McClatchy, via Truthout)
Image via How to Live Live Without Choking.

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