Spy Reforms

So I have read the analysis of Obama’s lengthy speech on reigning in the NSA.

Mish Shedlock begins by explicitly thanking Edward Snowden (who is clearly the ONLY reason that NSA reform is even a topic of consideration):

Obama says we need more “balance” between security and liberty. The president would “not dwell on Mr. Snowden’s actions or his motivations”.

I will. Edward Snowden is a national hero who should be given immunity from prosecution and welcomed back to the US.

Instead of praising Snowden, the president says “the sensational way in which these disclosures have come out has often shed more heat than light, while revealing methods to our adversaries that could impact our operations in ways that we might not fully understand for years to come.”

I suggest the revelations by Snowden shed an immense amount of light into the downright scary surveillance tactics of the NSA.
Read more at http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2014/01/obamas-message-on-nsa-translated.html#uhEivYApypXcxijL.99

Mish then sums up the entire speech with a picture:
Hugh at Corrente kind of nails it right off the bat:

Obama’s NSA Speech: Review Without Review, Reform Without Reform

Submitted by Hugh on Sat, 01/18/2014 – 10:32pm

Obama’s speech on intelligence gathering was the full on horseshit performance many of us thought it would be.

Obama began with a revisionist, some might say tortured, reworking of American history which placed the NSA in the tradition of Paul Revere and the Sons of Liberty. I guess what they say is true, that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels and Obama’s wrapping the NSA’s war on the Constitution up in the flag certainly qualifies.

He then goes on to do a detailed analysis of the speech, contrasting it with actual reality.  He brings up the fact that it is difficult to justify any of the programs based on objective, known evidence.  He also goes into many of the related issues, like what about all the people who have died in the wards, US citizens as well as others.  And what about all the other spy related stuff that goes on, that we just don’t know about yet.  And Snowden:

Until Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA, Obama was perfectly fine with the NSA and the police state he was happily expanding. Nor has his attitude changed in any material way. He has always viewed Snowden as a nuisance and Snowden’s revelations as a public relations problem.

The most positive review came from The Prospect, and even they credited Snowden:

Last week, Barack Obama delivered a speech announcing some reforms in response to Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency. As with most aspects of Obama’s record on civil liberties, my response is inevitably mixed. The outlined reforms would certainly constitute a real improvement over the status quo, but they are also too narrow and limited. Some of these limitations reflect real political constraints, while others don’t.

They also included this tidbit, which maybe shouldn’t have made me laugh out loud, but did:

“Effective immediately,” Obama said, “we will only pursue phone calls that are two steps removed from a number associated with a terrorist organization instead of three.” This is hardly earth-shattering reform, but it’s an improvement that will increase privacy on balance.

So, my summation of the speech, obviously, “Blah, blah, blah.”

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