President Obama has prompted protest by naming to reform NSA’s spy program the same staffer who misled the Senate last spring about the system.
White House Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, right, will lead a new intelligence review panel announced by Obama Aug. 9. Obama sought to reassure those in the public who believe federal authorities are abusing Americans’ Constitutional rights.
Former NSA executives and other experts have claimed the government collects and stores essentially all domestic electronic communications via phone, email, and social media. These experts claim the government maintains a dragnet for essentially all such communications (including content), and can retrieve content to target individuals as it desires via secret procedures.
Separately, Reuters last week reported DEA Special Operations Division Covers Up Surveillance Used To Investigate Americans concerning a secret government program whereby federal drug agents would lie to federal judges, defendants, and attorneys about their surveillance to keep the program under wraps and prevent defendants from challenging procedures in court.
On Aug. 12, an Atlantic columnist called the speech “A Low Point in Barack Obama’s Presidency.” The next day, the Huffington Post reported that Google is arguing in federal court that Gmail users have no legitimate right to privacy for their emails.
The government denies intrusive capabilities and lawbreaking. Looking relaxed, President Obama went on NBC’s Tonight Show Aug. 6 to tell the show’s affable host Jay Leno there is no such thing as a domestic spying program. Obama and his aides say that secret courts and secret briefings of congressional leaders adequately safeguard privacy rights over the minimal “metadata” the government collects.
Yet some Senate and House members deny being adequately briefed. Also, former NSA analyst and decorated Air Force veteran Russell Tice has told me and others that NSA and its contractors spy on Congress — including Obama when he was a Senator — as it builds a resource databank that deters oversight. Furthermore, Tice told MSNBC as early as 2005 that NSA “collects everything…word for word.”
Clapper will choose the panel to review intelligence operations that he supervises, and will then control the deliberations of his review panel. This is an obvious whitewash in the making.
Last spring, Clapper responded “no sir” to a question by three-term Senate Intelligence Commitee member Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, who asked whether the NSA collects information about millions of Americans. Clapper later admitted he misled the Senate. The revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in June forced the Obama administration to admit it had deceived the public.