President Obama danced and pranced on Friday trying to deflect damage on an image of trust, even in ‘confidence‘ for himself as president, washing the air with words meant to sound near-honest, but has become more and more obviously, embarrassingly-repeated bullshit.
Then yesterday, in a stupidly-veiled attempt to rationalize an intelligence apparatus gone off its rocker, the White House dug into history and dragged George Jr. into the storm, thus proving without a doubt we been fucked.
And maybe a long time, too.
(Illustration found here).
Here on the north coast of California — at least in this little space I inhabit — it’s a peaceful early Sunday. Not that way in many, many places in the US, and on the planet. In the real-world news, weather is again prominent as a huge bizarre mix of twisters, snow and even warmth has beat-the-shit out of the country — winter storms in the south and mid-west, ice and snow in New England, and temperatures a balmy 60 degrees for the mid-Atlantic region.
Also in real-world news, there’s the “unspeakable sadness” in the death yesterday of the 17-year-old shot a couple of school shooting ago, that particular one at Arapahoe High School, near Denver, Colorado.
In Obama’s case, 2013 has been so bad, the year started nearly two weeks early at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, and despite the slaughter there and so many since, guns will be guns, and more of them. The gun issue in the US is the shame of the world — Yemen maybe. Or: If it were a country, New Orleans (with a rate 62.1 gun murders per 100,000 people) would rank second in the world.
The gun debate in this totally-crazed country and in the shit-fest US Congress went nowhere earlier this year, and has stayed there.
Into this year and onward til its near end, Obama’s honest-bluster seems lately to catch up with him quicker. The latest dance-jig came on the question at the end of the year White House press conference — because of all the shit in 2013 (IRS, AP reporters, Eddie Snowden, Obamacare, etc., etc.) has this been the worst year of your presidency?
(Chuckles.) I — I got to tell you, Julie, that’s not how I think about it…
Mr. President, I think not. And the follow-up:
But sir, it’s not just your legislative agenda.
When you look at — (off mic) — you talk to Americans, they seem to have lost confidence in you, trust in you.
Your credibility have taken a hit.
Obviously, the health care law was a big part of that.
So do you understand that those — that the public has changed, in some way, their view of you over this year?
And he never really answers the trust question — the hope and change question — read the transcript, just the same old political blather, about polls, and “if I was interested in polling, I wouldn’t have run for president,” and whatever good’s happening, “..I’ll take it,” but nothing about trust, or “confidence,” say, as in what he wants the public to have for the NSA:
The question we’re going to have to ask is can we accomplish the same goals that this program is intended to accomplish in ways that give the public more confidence that in fact the NSA is doing what it’s supposed to be doing.
I have confidence in the fact that the NSA is not engaging in domestic surveillance or snooping around, but I also recognize that as technologies change and people can start running algorithms and programs that map out all the information that we’re downloading on a daily basis into our telephones and our computers that we may have to refine this further to give people more confidence.
And I’m going to be working very hard on doing that.
And more confidence in what-the-fuck-did-he-just-say?
About the same in a NSA-related question from Ed Henry at Fox News on how can Obama claim “we’ve struck the right balance” on surveillance, twixt security and privacy?
Heart of the answer:
Now, part of the challenge is, is that because of the manner in which these disclosures took place, in dribs and drabs, oftentimes shaded in a particular way, and because of some of the constraints that we’ve had in terms of declassifying information and getting it out there, that that trust in how many safeguards exist and how these programs are run has been diminished.
So what’s going to be important is to build that back up.
And I take that into account in weighing how we structure these programs.
As vaporous a set of words as ever uttered.
Especially at the tail-end of a week that saw a federal judge call the NSA phone collection probably “unconstitutional” and “near Orwellian,” then, the blue-ribbon White Review Group recommended strong power-curbs be clamped on the agency, then in addition, one of those panel members came out and said there’s not even any evidence all this shit over the past decade-plus has “thwarted” any terrorist attacks.
And so it came to past, a delirious and dastardly Saturday dump from a startled US government in efforts to not only justify the humongous, inhumane reach of the NSA, but also to spread the blame, and switch the song-and-dance back to George W. Bush, our favorite junior.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper explained in a statement Saturday that President George W. Bush first authorized the spying in October 2001, as part of the Terrorist Surveillance Program, just after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Bush disclosed the program in 2005.
The Terrorist Surveillance Program — which had to be extended every 30-60 days by presidential order — eventually was replaced by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a law that requires a secret court to approve the bulk collection.
Another slash pile of bullshit coming down on George Jr., yet is so secret that even secret doesn’t make it secret enough. And this real disclaimer: The declassification came after the Justice Department complied with a federal court order to release its previous legal arguments for keeping the programs secret.
But known unknowns are sometimes known.
Marcy Wheeler has a most-excellent, and a most-detailed post up this morning on Clapper’s latest bowel movement. And put altogether with all the Eddie Snowden shit, too, the whole mess is fairly shitty — Wheeler’s key thought:
That is, the surveillance system is not so much discrete metadata programs and content programs directed overseas, directed exclusively against al Qaeda or even terrorists.
Rather, it is a system in which network analysis plays a central role in selecting which collected content to read.
That content includes entirely domestic communication. And targets of the system have not always been — and were not as recently as June — limited to terrorists.
These details of the surveillance system — along with the fact that AT&T and Verizon played the crucial role of collecting content and “metadata” off domestic switches — are among the details James “Least Untruthful” Clapper, with backup from acting Deputy Director of NSA Frances Fleisch, declared to still be state secrets on Friday, in spite of their public (and in many cases, official) acknowledgement.
In doing so, they are attempting to end the last remaining lawsuits for illegal wiretapping dating to 2006 by prohibiting discussion of the central issue at hand: the government has repeatedly and fairly consistently collected the content of US persons from within the US, at times without even the justification of terrorism.
They might win an argument that this collection was not indiscriminate, but to win it, they’d have to reveal the many places in the process where they had violated wiretap laws.
Thus, Clapper is instead using Bush and Obama’s favorite strategy of declaring evidence of crime a state secret.
All the while boasting of his own transparency in declassifying one more tiny chunk of Bush’s illegal program.
And all this from a supposedly “open” administration — which in reality led to this report from a journalism watch-dog group in October:
In the Obama administration’s Washington, government officials are increasingly afraid to talk to the press.
Those suspected of discussing with reporters anything that the government has classified as secret are subject to investigation, including lie-detector tests and scrutiny of their telephone and e-mail records.
An “Insider Threat Program” being implemented in every government department requires all federal employees to help prevent unauthorized disclosures of information by monitoring the behavior of their colleagues.
The gloss has faded from the charm, nothing has really shifted as now, and from yesteryear — and tomorrow, too, most likely. Even though, I can tip my hat to the new constitution, or, take a bow for the new revolution, smile and grin at the change all around, but the reality…