President Obama pledged last week that he would take "specific steps" to reform U.S. surveillance policy. This week, he proved unable to keep his word for any longer than a weekend....An independent group of outside experts, whose tasks include ensuring that there is no abuse and assessing the impact of surveillance on privacy. That's what he promised the American people....
As Marcy Wheeler notes, "In the memo Obama just released ordering James Clapper to form such a committee, those words 'outside' and 'independent' disappear entirely." Indeed, putting the director of national intelligence in charge all but guarantees that the effort will be neither of those things -- especially since the Clapper has already lied to Congress about NSA spying. This "Review Group" won't even report its findings directly to the public or Congressional oversight committees. It'll report to Obama ... but indirectly, through Clapper.
"If this was about 'restoring the trust' of the American people that the government isn't pulling a fast one over on them, President Obama sure has a funny way of trying to rebuild that trust," Techdirt comments. "This seems a lot more like giving the concerns of the American public a giant middle finger."
There's even more bad news. In the newly released directive, there is no longer any mention of assessing how federal surveillance programs affect "our privacy," or figuring out how to make sure that there is "no abuse."
What happened to those goals? The closest the Monday directive comes to them is an instruction to remember "our need to maintain the public trust" as one of many policy considerations.
Forget whether abuses are happening, or whether privacy rights are in fact being protected. Clapper need only probe the perception of trust. Remember, this is a man with a demonstrated willingness to tell lies under oath when he decides doing so serves the greater good. How might he interpret the charge to make sure that public trust is maintained? I strongly suspect his approach will involve hiding certain truths that, if exposed, would diminish public trust more.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Last Week Obama Promised a Review of NSA Surveillance by a Group of "Outside Experts", Then Appoints an Insider to Head It
But I'm sure that the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, won't stack the deck or anything as he clearly has no vested interest in these matters. Here is the irreplaceable Conor Friedersdorf on the latest BS: