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Obama's NSA "reforms" are little more than a PR attempt to mollify the public

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Source: The Guardian

Obama is draping the banner of change over the NSA status quo. Bulk surveillance that caused such outrage will remain in place

Barack Obama speaks about the National Security Agency from the Justice Department in Washington.
Barack Obama speaks about the National Security Agency on 17 January 2014 from the Justice Department in Washington.
(image by Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

In response to political scandal and public outrage, official Washington repeatedly uses the same well-worn tactic. It is the one that has been hauled out over decades in response to many of America's most significant political scandals. Predictably, it is the same one that shaped President Obama's much-heralded Friday speech to announce his proposals for "reforming" the National Security Agency in the wake of seven months of intense worldwide controversy.

The crux of this tactic is that US political leaders pretend to validate and even channel public anger by acknowledging that there are "serious questions that have been raised." They vow changes to fix the system and ensure these problems never happen again. And they then set out, with their actions, to do exactly the opposite: to make the system prettier and more politically palatable with empty, cosmetic "reforms" so as to placate public anger while leaving the system fundamentally unchanged, even more immune than before to serious challenge.

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This scam has been so frequently used that it is now easily recognizable. In the mid-1970s, the Senate uncovered surveillance abuses that had been ongoing for decades, generating widespread public fury. In response, the US Congress enacted a new law (FISA) which featured two primary "safeguards": a requirement of judicial review for any domestic surveillance, and newly created committees to ensure legal compliance by the intelligence community.

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For the past 10 years, I was a litigator in NYC specializing in First Amendment challenges, civil rights cases, and corporate and securities fraud matters. I am the author of the New York Times Best-Selling book, How Would A Patriot (more...)

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Yes, Obama is the perfect salesman for this agenda... by Amy Schreiner on Friday, Jan 17, 2014 at 6:34:09 PM
You are correct Amy! "The president is the perfec... by Paul Repstock on Saturday, Jan 18, 2014 at 10:51:26 PM
A favorite 'weasle word' quote from the speech. "... by Paul Repstock on Sunday, Jan 19, 2014 at 8:27:19 AM
Let's go to the heart of the matter: acknowledgin... by Philip Zack on Friday, Jan 17, 2014 at 7:10:35 PM
The headline says it all,this is nothing but a PR ... by kappie on Saturday, Jan 18, 2014 at 9:24:52 AM
While Mr. Greenwald's synopsis of Obama's propose... by Ethan Allen on Saturday, Jan 18, 2014 at 2:35:03 PM
Absolutely right.  A "class action" both i... by George Flower on Saturday, Jan 18, 2014 at 2:44:38 PM
I agree. Obama ran his entire campaign on hope an... by Bob Davey on Saturday, Jan 18, 2014 at 8:22:17 PM
You're wrong.Obama is a psychopath doing what psyc... by Arthur M. Howard-(Scotoni) on Saturday, Jan 18, 2014 at 10:45:14 PM