Obama: NSA secret data gathering 'transparent'

Obama to public: "...phone calls aren't being listened into; text messages aren't being monitored, emails are not being read by some big brother somewhere."
Associated Press
Jun 18, 2013

President Barack Obama defended top secret National Security Agency spying programs as legal in a lengthy interview Monday, and called them transparent — even though they are authorized in secret.

"It is transparent," Obama told PBS' Charlie Rose in an interview broadcast Monday. "That's why we set up the FISA court," he added, referring to the secret court set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that authorizes two recently disclosed programs: one that gathers U.S. phone records and another that is designed to track the use of U.S.-based Internet servers by foreigners with possible links to terrorism.

He added that he's named representatives to a privacy and civil liberties oversight board to help in the debate over just how far government data gathering should be allowed to go — a discussion that is complicated by the secrecy surrounding the FISA court, with hearings held at undisclosed locations and with only government lawyers present. The orders that result are all highly classified.

"We're going to have to find ways where the public has an assurance that there are checks and balances in place ... that their phone calls aren't being listened into; their text messages aren't being monitored, their emails are not being read by some big brother somewhere," Obama said.

A senior administration official said the president had asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to determine what more information about the two programs could be made public, to help better explain them. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly.

Obama is in Northern Ireland for a meeting of leaders of allied countries. As Obama arrived, the latest series of Guardian articles drawing on the leaks claims that British eavesdropping agency GCHQ repeatedly hacked into foreign diplomats' phones and emails with U.S. help, in an effort to get an edge in such high-stakes negotiations.

Obama's announcement follows an online chat Monday by Edward Snowden, the man who leaked documents revealing the scope of the two programs to The Guardian and The Washington Post newspapers. He accused members of Congress and administration officials of exaggerating their claims about the success of the data gathering programs, including pointing to the arrest of would-be New York subway bomber Najibullah Zazi in 2009.

Snowden said Zazi could have been caught with narrower, targeted surveillance programs — a point Obama conceded in his Monday interview without mentioning Snowden.

"We might have caught him some other way," Obama said. "We might have disrupted it because a New York cop saw he was suspicious. Maybe he turned out to be incompetent and the bomb didn't go off. But, at the margins, we are increasing our chances of preventing a catastrophe like that through these programs," he said.

Obama repeated earlier assertions that the programs were a legitimate counterterror tool and that they were completely noninvasive to people with no terror ties — something he hoped to discuss with the privacy and civil liberties board he'd stood up. The senior administration official said the president would be meeting with the new privacy board in the coming days.

"I'll be meeting with them. And what I want to do is to set up and structure a national conversation, not only about these two programs, but also the general problem of data, big data sets, because this is not going to be restricted to government entities," he said.

Congressional leaders have said Snowden's disclosures have led terrorists to change their behavior, which may make them harder to stop — a charge Snowden discounted as an effort to silence him.

"The U.S. government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me," he said. He added the government "immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home," by labeling him a traitor, and indicated he would not return to the U.S. voluntarily.

Congressional leaders have accused Snowden of treason for revealing once-secret surveillance programs two weeks ago in the Guardian and The Washington Post. The National Security Agency programs collect records of millions of Americans' telephone calls and Internet usage as a counterterror tool. The disclosures revealed the scope of the collections, which surprised many Americans and have sparked debate about how much privacy the government can take away in the name of national security.

"It would be foolish to volunteer yourself to" possible arrest and criminal charges "if you can do more good outside of prison than in it," he said.

Snowden dismissed being called a traitor by former Vice President Dick Cheney, who made the allegations in an interview this week on Fox News Sunday. Cheney was echoing the comments of both Democrats and Republican leadership on Capitol Hill, including Senate Intelligence committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein.

"Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American, and the more panicked talk we hear from people like him, Feinstein ... the better off we all are," Snowden said.

The Guardian announced that its website was hosting an online chat with Snowden, in hiding in Hong Kong, with reporter Glenn Greenwald receiving and posting his questions. The Associated Press couldn't independently verify that Snowden was the man who posted 19 replies to questions.

In answer to the question of whether he fled to Hong Kong because he was spying for China, Snowden wrote, "Ask yourself: if I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn't I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now."

He added later, "I have had no contact with the Chinese government."

Snowden was working as a systems analyst contractor for NSA at the time he had access to the then-secret programs. He defended his actions and said he considered what to reveal and what not to, saying he did not reveal any U.S. operations against what he called legitimate military targets, but instead showed that the NSA is hacking civilian infrastructure like universities and private businesses.

"These nakedly, aggressively criminal acts are wrong no matter the target. Not only that, when NSA makes a technical mistake during an exploitation operation, critical systems crash," he said, though he gave no examples of what systems have crashed or in which countries.

"Congress hasn't declared war on the countries — the majority of them are our allies — but without asking for public permission, NSA is running network operations against them that affect millions of innocent people," he said. "And for what? So we can have secret access to a computer in a country we're not even fighting?"

Snowden was referring to Prism, one of the programs he disclosed. The program sweeps up Internet usage data from all over the world that goes through nine major U.S.-based Internet providers. The NSA can look at foreign usage without any warrants, and says the program doesn't target Americans.

Snowden explained his claim that from his desk, he could "wiretap" any phone call or email — a claim top intelligence officials have denied. "If an NSA, FBI, CIA, DIA, etc. analyst has access to query raw SIGINT (signals intelligence) databases, they can enter and get results for anything they want," he wrote in the answer posted on the Guardian site. "Phone number, email, user id, cell phone handset id (IMEI), and so on — it's all the same."

The NSA did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. But DNI Clapper has said that the kind of data that can be accessed and who can access it is severely limited.



The Big Dog's back

1. Within his first week, he signed an Executive Order ordering an audit of government contracts, and combating waste and abuse. http://1.usa.gov/dUvbu5

2. Created the post of Chief Performance Officer, whose job it is to make operations more efficient to save the federal government money. http://n.pr/hcgBn1

3. On his first full day, he froze White House salaries. http://on.msnbc.com/ewJUIx

4. He appointed the first Federal Chief Information Officer to oversee federal IT spending. http://www.cio.gov

5. He committed to phasing out unnecessary and outdated weapons systems. To that end, he also signed the Democratic-sponsored Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act, which attempted to put a stop to waste, fraud and abuse in the defense procurement and contracting system. http://bit.ly/hOw1t1 http://bit.ly/fz8GAd

6. Through an executive order, he created the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. http://bit.ly/hwKhKa

Prevented a Bush Depression and Improved the Economy

7. Pushed through and signed the Democratic-sponsored American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as “the stimulus package.” The bill passed, even though only three Republicans voted for it. In a major departure from the previous administration, he launched recovery.gov, a website that allows taxpayers to track spending from the Act. http://1.usa.gov/ibiFSs http://1.usa.gov/e3BJMk

8. The Bush-led Great Recession was costing the economy nearly 800,000 jobs per month by the time President Obama took office. But by the end of his first year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created and sustained 2.1 million jobs and stimulated the economyby 3.5%. http://reut.rs/i46CEE

9. Not only did he completed the massive TARP financial and banking rescue plan, he also leaned on the banks and others, and recovered virtually all of the bail-out money. http://1.usa.gov/eA5jVS http://bit.ly/eCNrD6

10. He created the Making Home Affordable home refinancing plan. http://1.usa.gov/goy6zl


1. Welfare is up.
2. National debt is up.
3. Growth has been as stagnant as Big Dogs breath
4. Housing market........what housing market?
5. Stimulus was a flat out failure
6. Benghazi coverup
7. IRS is biased
8. NSA leaks
9. More terrorist attacks keep on happening under his watch.


Re: 1-10.

And all were largely "accomplished" on the back of a federal debt ceiling that is about to be raised to $17 trillion.

Any FOOL can tax, borrow and spend and Pres. Obama CERTAINLY proves it.

Current and future Americans will suffer for his profligate ways.

The Big Dog's back

"Any FOOL can tax, borrow and spend". Like Reagan, Bush 1, Bush 2.


[ sound of 'applause']


Re: "'It is transparent,' Obama told PBS' Charlie Rose..."

"'That's why we set up the FISA court,' he added, referring to the secret court set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act"


Do you Obamabots ever listen to what he ACTUALLY says? :)

Even NPR says that Pres. Obama is full of BS.

"Despite being overseen by judges, they are not examined in the way that a normal application for a search warrant is."


The Big Dog's back

pooh, a little secret. NPR is not a Liberal network. The Koch brothers are one of it's largest contributors.


Re: "a little secret."

"Bullspit." :-7


"Better do some research ..." Cont.

Truth or Dare

Google Cspan's interview after the NSA briefing took place. Fienstien's concern was rather transparent. It wasn't only written all over her face, it was made pretty clear as to how she feels and I would venture to say I don't think she's real pleased! She actually appeared physically shaken! Make sure to listen carefully and view the whole interview, especially the 2 men that spoke after her. Talk about damage control, yet at the same time just digging your hole deeper!

Now folks are talking about the ACLU not being happy?! You think?! They can use/make all the excuses they want for such a program, which is intertwined w/every LE agency there is and gives a whole new meaning of "an agency within an agency, within an agency, within an agency".....they can set up all the kangaroo courts and judges they want. What they're doing is in clear violation of the U.S. Constitution. No matter how many times they repeat and I'm paraphrasing, "everything we're doing is legal under the U.S. Constitution".

The thought police know where to find me.


One might do well to take a look at the Declaration of Independence and see if our own federal govt. hasn't devolved into an oppressor not dissimilar to that which our ancestors fought against.

"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever."


The Big Dog's back

Gee, isn't this the President whose campaign didn't remove armed right wingnuts from his rally's?


"Before you can think about security against the government, you need to know law enforcment’s capabilities and limitations. The government has extraordinary abilities — it’s the best-funded adversary you’ll ever face. But the government does have limits. It must decide whether it is cost-effective to deploy its resources against you. Further, law enforcement officers have to follow the law, and most often will try to do so, even if only because there are penalties associated with violating it. The first and most important law for our purposes is the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution."

The above information is a good read. Put it into your favorites for future reading. There is some good reading there about modern technology such as computers.

"Privacy tip: Sneak and peek searches, key-loggers and government spyware"

"Secret searches can be used to install eavesdropping and wiretapping devices. Secret searches may also be used to install a key-logging device on your computer. A key-logger records all of the keystrokes that you make on the computer's keyboard, for later retrieval by the police who installed it. So if you are concerned about government surveillance, you should check your office computers for new added hardware that you don't recognize — especially anything installed between the keyboard and the computer — and remove it. A hardware key-logger often looks like a little dongle in between the keyboard plug and computer itself. Keyghost is an example of a hardware key-logger.

However, the government also has the capability to remotely install software key-loggers on your computer — or search the contents of your hard drive, or install surveillance capability on your computer — using its own spyware. There were rumors of such capability a few years ago in news reports about a government software program code-named "Magic Lantern" that could be secretly installed and monitored over the Internet, without the police ever having to enter your house or office. More recently, news reports revealed that the government had in one case been able to hack into a computer remotely and install software code-named "CIPAV" (the "Computer and Internet Protocol Address Verifier"), which gave the government the IP addresses with which the infected computer communicated.

In response to a survey, all of the major anti-spyware companies claimed that their products would treat government spyware like any other spyware programs, so you should definitely use some anti-spyware product to monitor your computer for such programs. It's possible that a spyware company may receive a court order requiring it not to alert you to the presence of government spyware (several of the companies that were surveyed declined to say whether they had received such orders), but you should still use anti-spyware software if only to protect yourself against garden-variety spyware deployed by identity thieves and commercial data harvesters."

My own computer has been attacked quite frequently. Sometimes the malware or virus will be disguised as a reputable update such as Adobe or Java. Be forwarned and prepare yourself for attacks on your computer.

Also be careful when using a public computer in a library or any public place. There might be some software installed that will have a record of every key stroke that you make. There is a lot of good information on the internet about your privacy using a public computer or even a friend's computer. Then you have your smart phones.

"Using a public computer at an Internet café, library, school, or even a friend's house is quite a different situation. First, you have no guaranteed that the computer is protected; it might be riddled with viruses or afflicted with a keylogger. Second, unless you're careful the next user might learn a lot more than you'd like about your online session."

The above link is over a year old. Do your research to find more information.

Some people making comments here sadden me at times. Why would you freely give up your rights to privacy and agree to the government intrusion? I could take advantage of the new NSA rules against my enemies and they against me. Here is a one way. Somebody decides to set you up by pretending to be a terrorist and keeps sending you anonymous phone calls and text messages. You figure out the outcome.


Send that clown to back to Kenya !


Send that clown and his finger he is always pointing back to Kenya !

The Big Dog's back

We like our "Kenyan" President.

Darwin's choice

Take a couple minutes and watch your liar and chief. Oh how quick he has changed his stance.
Video You Won’t See in Media: Senator Obama Debates President Obama on Surveillance

Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/mat...


Transparent?! Are you freakin' kidding me? It would be translucent at best and more like opaque.


Bill Ayres: Obama should be tried for war crimes.


The Big Dog's back

Wow! Quoting Bill Ayres now? Holy spit!

The Big Dog's back

Next you will be quoting Rev. Wright!

The Big Dog's back

How about Tony Rezko?

The Big Dog's back

New Black Panther party?


"NSA Saves the NY Stock Exchange – Everyone Rejoice!":



Hope walk was well, try Eagles Nest Café in front of Old Woman's Creek some time, good food.


Very transparent, yeppers! Lets give these guys some more arms, it appears they have enough already.


The Big Dog's back

New Libertarians = Old right wingnuts.


Transparent as mud!


As I said before, no one does any research before spouting off here. There are things being done wrong by all, but this country has been safe no matter who or what you give credit or blame to. Remember, this government is "we the people", which is far different from the continuing "spinning the truth" by so many commentators that people would rather believe and make wealthy with their contributions.