Argues US has always defended freedom through surveillance

Steve Watson
January 17, 2014

In a speech that was billed as an announcement of “reforms” to the NSA’s mass spying practices, the president argued that the US has a long history of defending liberty by conducting surveillance. Obama even cited Paul Revere, in remarks clearly designed to justify government spying on its own citizens.

To virtually no one’s surprise, the president’s “reforms” will not stop NSA’s mass spying, and this was immediately evident in the opening remarks of Obama’s speech when he attempted to argue that in times of war, the US has always used surveillance to secure freedom.

“At the dawn of our Republic, a small, secret surveillance committee borne out of the “The Sons of Liberty” was established in Boston.” Obama stated. “The group’s members included Paul Revere, and at night they would patrol the streets, reporting back any signs that the British were preparing raids against America’s early Patriots.”

Note how in the first sentence, using incredibly Orwellian tactics, Obama has twisted the facts to link spying to patriotism, and to suggest that the earliest American icons were engaged in the same sort of activity as today’s NSA.

Obama then went on to cite the Civil War, World War II, and the Cold War, arguing that “Throughout American history, intelligence has helped secure our country and our freedoms.”

Anyone with any shred of intelligence knows that comparing the actions of Paul Revere, who famously alerted the Colonial militia to the approach of British forces before the battles of Lexington and Concord, is in no way comparable to NSA mass spying.

Was Paul Revere covertly spying on his own people? Was he collecting records of all their communications, even if they were completely innocent and not suspected of doing any wrong? Of course not, to argue so is completely asinine.

Senator Rand Paul immediately took to the airwaves on CNN to challenge Obama’s characterization of Paul Revere as a proto-spy:

“Paul Revere was warning us that the British were coming. He wasn’t warning us that the Americans were coming.” Paul noted.

The Washington Post also hilariously pointed out in a blog post that “if the British Redcoats had access to the type of metadata and processing power the NSA does today, Revere probably would have been caught before he could go on his legendary midnight ride.” Indeed, Revere would have been outed as a “terrorist”.

Speaking of terrorists, it was only a matter of minutes before the president invoked 9/11 in his speech, following pre-determined NSA talking points in order to further justify the unconstitutional practices of the NSA.

“The horror of September 11 brought these issues to the fore. Across the political spectrum, Americans recognized that we had to adapt to a world in which a bomb could be built in a basement, and our electric grid could be shut down by operators an ocean away.” said Obama.

Obama then argued, in the face of independent studies that suggest otherwise, that the NSA spying has “prevented multiple attacks and saved innocent lives – not just here in the United States, but around the globe as well.”

He also argued, in the face of analysis by privacy and constitutional experts, that there have been no abuses connected to the NSA mass spying program.

“Nothing in that initial review, and nothing that I have learned since, indicated that our intelligence community has sought to violate the law or is cavalier about the civil liberties of their fellow citizens.” said Obama.

The President announced that he is appointing one of his own insiders, John Podesta, to oversee “a comprehensive review of big data and privacy.” Podesta also happens to be the head of the White House front group the Center for American Progress, which as noted by SourceWatch has strong ties with the Common Purpose Project, “an effort to create message discipline among the pro-Obama organizations, with a direct tie to the White House.”

Anyone who believes that John Podesta, also a former Clinton Chief of Staff, will deliver an impartial opinion during this review of big data and privacy should take into account that the Center for American Progress, as admitted by director Jennifer Palmieri, is focused purely around “driving the White House’s message and agenda.”

Obama announced that several more “reviews” of the NSA’s practices would be taking place, leading critics to assert that reviews do not equate to actions or concrete reforms.

At one point Obama appeared to be indicating that Americans should be thankful for the way continuing government spying is being dealt with, comparing the US to dictatorships, stating “No one expects China to have an open debate about their surveillance programs, or Russia to take the privacy concerns of citizens into account.”

The biggest “reform” Obama appeared to announce today was that a “private entity” will hold all of the data that the NSA collects. The president will reportedly order attorney general Eric Holder to report to him by 28 March on options for storing the data.

In other words, NSA’s bulk data collection of phone calls and other communications is being outsourced, IT IS NOT BEING ENDED.

Rand Paul noted on CNN “It’s not about who holds it, I don’t want them collecting Americans’ information.”

“This shifting of records would not solve the problem — it would just shift it,” said Elizabeth Goitein,co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “In the case of telephone companies, it would turn them into agents of the surveillance community.”

With the fresh revelations today that NSA collects HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of text messages per day in an ‘untargeted’ global sweep, who actually stores them is clearly not the issue here. The issue is the practice of collecting such data, a practice that goes directly against the Fourth Amendment.

The clearest indication that NSA spying will continue came with Obama’s declaration that “We cannot prevent terrorist attacks or cyber-threats without some capability to penetrate digital communications.”


Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’, and He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.

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