Obama’s Reassurances about Domestic Surveillance are not Reassuring

President Obama gave a news conference on Friday in which he addressed the controversy over Edward Snowden’s revelations regarding NSA spying on the American people.

This issue is a very difficult one for Mr. Obama, given that he came to it from civil libertarian position as a senator, but now is president. When you are president, you are president of the nearly one million NSA employees and contractors, who become your constituency– not to mention the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, much of the military, the Intelligence and Research Division of the State Department, etc., etc.

Obama is concerned not to demoralize the analysts who are gathering and using the electronic data. Those analysts have had successes in keeping the US safe, which they cannot reveal, and one understands his support for them. I’ve addressed intelligence analysts from various US agencies dozens of times in the past decade, and have always been honored to do so.

But Mr. Obama is going beyond simply avoiding harming the government’s esprit de corps. He is playing to the gallery of maximalists on domestic surveillance and is preferring them over the general public. It is one of the problems with having a standing army and a huge intelligence-industrial complex, which the founding generation warned against– it becomes a lobby within the government for militarism and against civil liberties.

Obama is also aware of two dangers to his presidency and to the fortunes of the Democratic Party, which he heads. One is that the Bush administration, especially Dick Cheney, may have left behind saboteurs in the bureaucracy who will attempt to sink him if he tries to change certain policies put in place by Cheney for the sake of the latter’s cronies. The other is that a terrorist cell will in fact manage to pull off another big operation in the United States. While the Democrats for the most part did not blame Bush for 9/11, we know how the GOP will crucify Obama if there is an attack on his watch.

For both these reasons, the former civil libertarian now may feel he needs all the surveillance he can get.

Any president is beholden to the intelligence-industrial complex and the only time there are significant reforms is when there has been a revelation of significant wrongdoing that catches the public’s imagination or becomes a political football between the two parties. Thus, you had the Seymour Hersh articles about the CIA excesses in the New York Times in the early 1970s, then the Rockefeller report and the Church Commission. In the late 1960s and the 1970s, the CIA had conducted the COINTELPRO program on US college campuses against critics of the Vietnam War. (It is illegal for the CIA to operate on US soil against US citizens, though this practice was revived in New York after 9/11).

All that said, Mr. Obama has in his public comments on the revelations by Edward Snowden consistently gone beyond what he needed to do to assuage the injured feelings of the analysts.

Among the more shameful episodes in the Obama presidency has been his vindictiveness toward whistleblowers and his and Eric Holder’s eagerness to use the fascistic 1917 Espionage Act against them. Seymour Hersh, who provoked the last big reforms of US intelligence, would have been charged with espionage by Barack Obama and would either have been executed or would have been given life in prison. In this regard, Obama’s record is worse than Nixon’s.

The 1917 Espionage Act was enacted just after the US went to war with Imperial Germany. It was twinned with a Sedition Act a year later, as this site explains : “Congress passed the Sedition Act of 1918, which made it a federal offense to use “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the Constitution, the government, the American uniform, or the flag. The government prosecuted over 2,100 people under these acts.”

In other words, the Espionage Act deployed against Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden is a manifestation of war fever and nationalist fascism from the early 20th century, and likely is unconstitutional, just as most of the Sedition Act has been ruled to be. It does not speak well of Mr. Obama that he is using this sort of tool to govern.

Mr. Obama at one point in his press conference called on Edward Snowden to come back to the United States and argue his case. I mean, really. This kind of disinformation and grandstanding can’t possibly be necessary, even given the constraints mentioned at the beginning of this essay. Mr. Obama knows very well that if Snowden returned to the US, we would never ever hear from him ever again. He’d go straight to a maximum security prison for the rest of his days on earth and die there.

Bradley Manning was held at a brig by the Marines and was falsely declared a suicide risk so that he could be tortured by being chained naked to his bed for a year and woken up several times a night (sleep deprivation is a torture tactic, as is humiliation via making a prisoner nude. These same techniques were used by the US military on Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib). There is no reason to believe that Snowden would be treated better. Note that Obama’s own spokesman, P. J. Crowley, publicly criticized Manning’s treatment and was fired for it. Obama had been in a position to stop the torture but did not.

If Mr. Obama were serious about wanting Snowden voluntarily to return and participate in a national debate, he would take the espionage charges off the table. Despite cynical presuppositions by Snowden’s critics, there is no evidence whatsoever that he has shared sensitive intelligence with either China or Russia.

For the rest, Mr. Obama ignored most of the revelations from the Snowden material published by The Guardian and others when he spoke of reforming the NSA “programs.”

He ignored the revelation that the NSA is sharing Americans’ pattern of telephone calls with the Drug Enforcement Agency, which has repeatedly used it to develop drug charges against individuals, and has lied to judges and defense attorneys about how the information was obtained. Since it was obtained without a warrant and via massive fishing expeditions into citizens’ private effects, deploying it to gain drug convictions in small Midwestern towns is unconstitutional and extremely disturbing. Lying about how the case was initiated is unconscionable.

He ignored the revelation of the Tempora Program whereby the US paid British intelligence $150 million to attach sniffers to the transatlantic fiber optic cables that surface at the UK, and to download petabytes of emails and telephone calls (the substance of the emails and telephone calls, in contrast to what Mr. Obama keeps alleging). There are 250 NSA analysts assigned to sifting through this material.

Mr. Obama is a very busy man and it is possible that he hasn’t read all of Glenn Greenwald’s Guardian articles on the Snowden revelations. He should. He is being briefed on this matter by people with a vested interest in keeping the surveillance programs going, and is not being given the whole truth.

Remarkably, the president did not say anything about how Germany has cut the US off from its earlier intelligence cooperation in anger at the very extensive spying the US does on that country, a NATO ally. He did not say anything about the charges that the US is using these surveillance programs to engage in industrial espionage in South America. He did not bring up the potential loss of 10%- 20% of customers by US internet companies offering Cloud computing. Everyone now knows that what you put in the cloud goes straight to the Federal government.

The reforms Mr. Obama pledged to pursue are a start, but they are not enough. There are clearly abuses going on, as with data sharing from the NSA to the DEA and its obfuscation before the courts. Mr. Obama in his public discourse absolutely refuses to acknowledge those abuses. Until he does, he cannot fix them.

34 Responses

  1. I think you’re giving the President too much credit. I think he knows exactly what’s going on, and he supports it whole-heartedly. I think he was opposed to unchecked executive power until it was HIS unchecked executive power – or that he claimed to be opposed to it to gain access to that power. The only agenda he seems to have zealously and consistently pursued since taking office is the perpetuation and growth of that power. This is coming from someone who happily voted for him in 2008 and voted against Romney in 2012. I can admit when I’ve been fooled. That is what happened here. President Obama is a very good liar who likes being powerful. At least, that is what his actions say.

  2. Obama is, in effect, saying, “Trust me.” Trust is the glue of government, at least to those that claim to govern by the consent of the people. The problem is that when professional liars lie to Congress under oath and get away with it, why should anyone believe anything that any of them have to say? Could not a case be made that one is indeed foolish to believe them?
    The damage here is to trust in governance per se, whether it is Democratic or Republican, whether you call it democratic, socialist, fascistic, corporate, plutocratic, or whatever. What happens in America when there is a widespread loss of trust in the government? A repeat of the 1860’s seems highly unlikely, but what happens when the majority no longer trust whomever is in power? Educate me, please.

    • {What happens in America when there is a widespread loss of trust in the government?}

      Then the government IS NOT LEGITIMATE and must be forced out. Why did they overthrown an elected president and the war criminals at the WH try to paint that was not a COUP, and the phony ‘progressives’ copy that which means they lie to the public.

  3. Well said, as usual. Though I’ve always had some trouble with this “honor the soldier, oppose the war” concept, which seems here to find a parallel in “honor the security analyst, oppose the surveillance state.”

    I grant that it seems just possible, in theory, to separate the grunt from the mission but it’s a fine and complicated line, and in practice “honor the troops” has always seemed to smudge into boosting the military-industrial complex and its preferred narrative. (e.g. “these brave men and women are keeping us safe”–from whom?)

    I have to wonder if this, or at any rate its general embrace among the left, is partly a reaction to Vietnam-era rancor that is now looked back on with some measure of remorse. I could certainly understand that, but there’s no active draft today, and if spitting on veterans and shouting “child murderer” at them is still inappropriate, it seems like regularly waving the flag and professing admiration for them as a special class approaches an opposite extreme.

    Soldiers (and, I presume, spooks) apply for and accept a job for which they are compensated, in some ways rather more generously than many Americans (and at our collective expense). They also, at this point, perform that job knowing that it is ultimately supporting goals of ongoing unjustified armed aggression, and/or replacing civil liberties with an international hyper-Stasi.

    It is, I’m sure, nonetheless in many cases really more of a “guilt by association” that most of us share to some extent; I know well that it’s difficult to take part in the modern economy without some measure of technically voluntary involvement with corporate villains, certainly. But, no one’s honoring me as a hero.

    Frankly, for all that I disagree with Obama and in particular his persecution of Snowden, I think he may at least have a valid point that if one genuinely honors those ex-colleagues who continue to keep their heads down and loyally toil away for the surveillance state, it certainly appears contradictory to honor the man who denounced that work and dedicated himself to its unraveling.

    • “Soldiers (and, I presume, spooks)… also, at this point, perform that job knowing that it is ultimately supporting goals of ongoing unjustified armed aggression, and/or replacing civil liberties with an international hyper-Stasi.”

      You are clearly projecting your own frame of reference and viewpoint onto the soldiers and intelligence officers you cite above. You have no basis to state categorically that they “know” their work is “ultimately supporting goals of ongoing unjustified armed aggression, and/or replacing civil liberties with an international hyper-stasi.”

      Many (perhaps most) of them are very comfortable with the idea that their work is advancing and protecting the interests of the United States and the American people. that you think otherwise is a legitimate position to take. That you project your views on to others is solipsistic and more than a bit arrogant.

      • You, Bill, cite and likely don’t have any basis for your assertion. Spend any time in the “alternative” sites where past and present troopers gather and you’ll find plenty of soul-sick dissatisfaction with what our troops have come to recognize that they are tasked to do, how the indoctrination has morphed, and how distant “the mission” now is from the mythical “protecting constitutional democracy.” Maybe that’s why the droid armies are the Brass’s dream and all the troop reductions are in the offing. And what interests are they “comfortable protecting” again? Stay on message now…

    • Having been a grunt, and lived with grunts for many years,
      I have to agree with Bill, if I understood him correctly.

      Most soldiers are told frequently that they are sacrificing to defend the American way of life.
      Heck, Presidents and Secretaries of Defense go on tour of military installations agound the globe to trumpet that bologna.
      Who are they to believe ? The Prez, or their lying eyes ?

      In fact, when a soldier recognizes how his actions in combat truly fit into the big picture, he often commits suicide.
      The Bowe Bergdahl response is quite rare, which is why I think he ought to be celebrated as much or more than Manning, whose motives were less noble than the sympathetic press tells us.

  4. As long as we’re trying to rationalize Obama’s odious behavior, maybe we should look at the possibility that Obama has become heavily beholden to the “deep state.” Either because he owes them a big one or because they have the goods on him…

  5. “Mr. Obama in his public discourse absolutely refuses to acknowledge those abuses.”

    And his disingenuous reply to Mr Snowden’s late-June revelations was most touching: “I welcome the opportunity to have a national discussion [concerning NSA activities].” Without those revelations, most Americans would have remained completely unaware there was even a discussion to be having!
    (Other than those paying attention to the likes of Th. Drake, Wm. Binney over the last ten years.)

    “It does not speak well of Mr. Obama that he is using this sort of tool [Espionage Act] to govern.”

    I have been trying to find, to limn, the moral core of Mr Obama may be since the beginning of his public life. I am still coming up empty. Obama came to DC as a creature of the financial and energy sectors; he has added the military-intelligence card to his deck.
    His public morality seems never to have moved out of the graduate school seminar room.
    I have to stick with Adolph Reed’s call, back in 1996: “…a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable credentials and vacuous to repressive neoliberal politics,…” and again, in ’08: “He’s a vacuous opportunist…his fundamental political center of gravity, beneath an empty rhetoric of hope and change and new directions, is neoliberal.”

    “It is one of the problems with having a standing army and a huge intelligence-industrial complex, which the founding generation warned against.”

    Take Chalmers Johnson with you to the beach next week: Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, Nemesis. Heartbreaking and necessary reading for anyone with a crumb of democratic consciousness left.

    • Thank you Victor, particularly for the reference to Chalmers Johnson, whose books should indeed be essential reading; too bad the president clearly has not had them on his list.

  6. That is an excellent essay. In addition though, President Obama has to deal with a public that is not very savy and totally divided by the media. Note that 50% of Chicago HS
    graduates cannot read a bus schedule and in California people will sign a petition for anything if you preface it with “Would you please help President Obama?” eg cut health costs by euthanizing old people, eliminate the bill of rights etc. link to prisonplanet.com We are now in the hands of a
    ‘Committee of Experts’!

  7. “Mr. Obama in his public discourse absolutely refuses to acknowledge those abuses.”

    Unfortunately, so too do most most American “citizens.”

  8. Although not likely, given the depth and breadth of NSA intrusion into US communications, a way around the 1st and 4th Amendment is having the likes of GCHQ just happen to trap US communications for analysis and action. Just musing.

    • Yes – that is exactly what is happening, and how convenient when we don’t have to officially do it ourselves. And we are sharing this information – in both directions – not just for all the things we designate as counter-terrorism, but – not to waste any intel – any other kind of ‘crime’, even if it’s not violent, or against our country; even if it’s just someone using marijuana or protesting against corporate interests.

  9. I found your piece to be very interesting. I like the evenness of its tone and appreciate the historical perspective. I just wish Obama had as much concern about demoralizing the American public. Bush-43 manage to maintain the support of his followers. That’s something that Obama has not done. By taking actions as President that he condemned when he was a candidate, Obama has managed to turn many of his most fervent supporters into his most fervent detractors.

    • “the evenness of its tone and appreciate the historical perspective”

      You mean like asserting that, under Obama, Seymour Hersh would have been executed or given life in prison, despite there being not a single example of anyone receiving anything remotely close to those sentences?

  10. As a decided fan Professor Cole I would like to none the less register my disappointment in the above where he appears to speak to the President’s state of mind:
    “This issue is a very difficult one for Mr. Obama”
    “Obama is concerned not to demoralize the analysts”
    “Obama is also aware of two dangers to his presidency”
    “Mr. Obama is a very busy man”
    Since I don’t trust Obama one iota including his libertarian history, I recoil from such statements.
    I include the last quote as I think busyness is truly known only by the subject. Mr. Obama does not appear busy to me.
    My problem with anyone who assumes state of mind knowledge is that they are making it up. Someone reporting on their own state of mind is hardly trustworthy on that score. My especial problem for such on this blog is that it makes this blog look superficial to newcomers. You are 99% fact based or where opinion based the non factual nature of those statements is acknowledged. I think newcomers will welcome the wealth of knowledge to be found here if they don’t shrink back from what sound like unsolicited Obama defenses.

    • John: I’ve been a follower of Juan since the beginning and I think his point today about Obama’s political state of mind is a good one. Obama would never have gotten re-elected if he had stood up to the military. He has never had a discouraging deed regarding the bankers or the secret government conglomerate. They have all gotten away with ‘murder’, so to speak. If we had elected Hillary or Mitt I think we would be exactly where we are today. They all would have played it the same way and gotten re-elected.
      I think Hillary’s poll numbers would be a lot lower though.

  11. Note that Obama’s own spokesman, P. J. Crowley, publicly criticized Manning’s treatment and was fired for it. Obama had been in a position to stop the torture but did not.

    Again, back in the real world, the brig commander responsible for Manning’s treatment was removed from command and disciplined.

    This is an appalling fact-free journey through imaginationland.

    • “Again, back in the real world, the brig commander responsible for Manning’s treatment was removed from command and disciplined.”

      That’s odd. Obama said the treatment meted to Bradley Manning was “appropriate.” He didn’t say “appropriate” for what, but a consensus presumes it was intended to get a confession to frame Julian Assange even though it didn’t work.

      • “That’s odd. Obama said the treatment meted to Bradley Manning was “appropriate.” He didn’t say “appropriate” for what, but a consensus presumes it was intended to get a confession to frame Julian Assange even though it didn’t work.”

        Please expand on this “consensus” you mention that I have cited above. A consensus among whom? To whom are you referring when you state “a consensus presumes…?” The term “consensus” refers to a general agreement or judgment arrived at by most of those involved in an issue. I look forward to your response.

  12. Despite cynical presuppositions by Snowden’s critics, there is no evidence whatsoever that he has shared sensitive intelligence with either China or Russia.

    So he didn’t turn over several laptops loaded with classified information to Russian authorities?

    Really? You’re sticking with that story?

    • That, in fact, is what the evidence so far supports. Given that the Guardian continues to methodically analyze and publish (in redacted form) materials Snowden shared with them, if Putin’s government (or the Chinese government, whom the right-wing press also project as having forcibly taken the data) had access to everything Snowden had – which, importantly, included information Snowden did not intend to publish but kept as a safety measure – then we would by now see at least some evidence of this, not excluding making it public and crowing about it.

      Instead, this has not been the case. If high-level/high stakes discussions among the three governments had been taking place we would not have witnessed the embarrassing one-way demands the Obama administration tried to force on Putin, after he had expressly announced (publicly, from which there was no backing down), that Russia did not have an extradition treaty with the U.S. and that it did not intend to extradite Snowden, and that in fact it was the U.S. government’s revocation of Snowden’s visa that stranded him in Russia to begin with. The extreme U.S. embarrassment came when Eric Holder felt compelled to write to the Russian government explaining that the U.S. did not intend to torture Snowden or bring charges that would result in his execution (already-existing Espionage Act charges notwithstanding). This is not the type of public dialogue that would occur if there were a high-stakes, mutually informed discourse taking place.

  13. This might be a good time to consider the Peter Principle about people rising to their level of incompetence.

  14. Dr. Cole, I don’t doubt there are what I would call (MY value system, of course) decent and honorable analysts, and probably “effectives” in or out of uniform, in the State Security-Statecraft apparatus. People who may have, thanks to parentage, personal sense of values, education and various mentors and models, some residual or active sense, an honest “mission,” and wisdom about what’s a “real threat,” however you care to define that, and what might be done to address it for the “general welfare.” A sense of the real, complex, covert nature of claimed “interests,” and what on the big scale is actually in play. “Interests” that by right of stealthy occupation define “the national interest” as so often invoked here. (I personally don’t think people like Gary Schroen are among the decent and honorable. link to cia.gov

    You have to empathize with the ones who pulled together the dots that, when assembled, spelled “9/11,” seeing that other “interests” apparently guided the rulership in the use of the analysis and the event itself. Since none of them, reportedly, happened to notice the imminent collapse of the Soviet Menace and thus the entire raison d’etre of Duck’n’Coverism, And stuff like that. (Are there any examples of the sort you mentioned that can be revealed, where the analysts actually uncovered and pretermitted any SIGNIFICANT Bad Stuff, like arranging delivery of weapons-grad nuclear material to, say, Israel, or is that one of those ‘Trust Us’ double-secret things, even though the massive silence and massive abuses are so evident and Trust needs so much bolstering? Or is Fear designed to suppress the need for Trust?)

    And one wonders if any of those analysts and effectives, simply to keep their jobs and feed their families, or in some warped or transfigured notion of loyalty, participated in putting lipstick on the various Pigs, including many episodes like Pigs, Bay Of. Let’s remember that the “experts,” which some posting here let the rest of us infer that they are or are aligned with, some-unspecified-how, have shown again and again that fundamental self-serving incompetence, in the species-survival sense, or even the advance-the-Imperium sense (see “Vietnam” and “Iraqafghaniyemeranistan” and AFRI- and the Leviathanian rest of the “COMs”) or even in knocking the beard off Castro. Can’t even (due to massiveness, apparently) even figure out how to “win” (which they don’t define either) 4th Generation Wars. link to fabiusmaximus.com

    The well-schooled “experts” (remembering that Eichmann and Beria and Mengele and Arafat and Netanyahoo and Dulles and Donovan and Casey and even bin Ladin and a bunch of others were and are “experts”) seem, not surprisingly, to go along with and claim to have a deep, important and “posthole-and-mass-grave” knowledge of one skewed school of political geology, and with the arcanae of security-speak and Mil-babble and a mastery of the well-proven-idiotic-and-destructive rules and play of the Great Game. And show the desire to dig, delve and then to force-fit results to some agenda and then to report as “true” the tailored, filtered, fraudulent results of their excavations. And to only dig wherever their weirdnesses and personal and small-group interests draw them. With “Experts” like Petraeus and Yoo cueing their inquiries and analysis.

    It’s kind of inarguable, in the current context, that the ones who go along, and the rulers here, there and everywhere, have a proven willingness to make a joke of the “self-evident truths” that too many of us still bovinely believe in and think our rulers respect and are guided by. And that the world that the new analysts and effectives are invited to “be part of changing” where the rest of us have to live into (see the NSA’s and CIA’s employment come-ons) is not any “quaint” Constitutionally limited place, but a lot more like the Libertarian We_ Dream. link to nakedcapitalism.com

    Maybe the Rulers, like the “C-suite-ers” in the Soylent Corporation, guys and gals like maybe even Obama after he was shown the briefings and taught the secret handshake, all know that the momentum is all downhill off some tipping-point cliff and into the Valley of Death, that intoxicated with the speed and power, they’ve gleefully bypassed a bunch of side tracks into greener pastures, and that the best one can do for self and family is keep shoveling coal into the engine and finding personal or perverse pleasures where one can, in minute upward adjustments to the throttle, and incremental release of the brakes, and the sense of speed and power and the expectation that they can somehow, by “bailout” or comfortable natural death, get off before the cliff. (Remember what the root word of “intoxicated” is.)

    We ordinary folks should, I guess, be grateful that there exist people like Manning and Snowden and their predecessors and hopefully successors, who will shine a light on the rats and roaches and silverfish, back in the cupboards where they eat and crap in the stored sustenance and wealth that ordinary people have to sweat and strain to produce. Or maybe we are happier not knowing…

    Yeah, Bill and Joe, it’s all about that which you smugly maintain ‘properly and Realistically rules’ and by Divine right ought to “govern,” but are so loath to define: “national interest.” Smart, if maybe less honorable, move, to line up with and cheer for the big kids, when it’s time for dodgeball or a rock fight…

    • “And one wonders if any of those analysts and effectives, simply to keep their jobs and feed their families, or in some warped or transfigured notion of loyalty, participated in putting lipstick on the various Pigs, including many episodes like Pigs, Bay Of.”

      Several years ago I attended a talk given by the father of an Iraq war dissident, who is now probably enjoying a return to anonymity so I won’t reveal his name. The father was asked if any of his son’s colleagues shared his views. The father replied that some had told his son they agreed with him but they didn’t dare join him in his dissent because “they had mortgages to pay.”

      There seems to be an immutable law that says that in any organization of considerable size where there is a lure of power and wealth you will find the best and worst of people with most people somewhere in between.

  15. Obama has become an utter disappointment, his legacy is ruined. Juan is doing his best to present him in a favourable light, a hard task for sure. But as the savvy commenters above are stating, it is too late. Out of the USA, in Eurpe, the unthinkable is happening: Putin has more credibility,than Obama, among the general public. His support for Snowden is in sharp contrast with the fierce pursuit Obama has ordered. Yes, Obama ordered it, because he knows the worst revelations are in the way.

  16. This issue has become a matter of what can we do now that we’ve been slapped in the face with the knowledge that the government spies on us. Taking a care to one’s own communications security is always, ultimately, one’s own responsibility. Snowden remarked on this when he said to a question, that ‘strong encryption is about the only thing you can still count on’ while also noting that ‘end point security’ was pretty much hash everywhere thus explaining how the NSA is able to compromise our messages and calls. Regardless of any political pressure we might gin up to bring the Spooks to heel, I’m not discounting the effort, I think the wide-spread adoption of Secure Communications Practices serves us well on several fronts. A measured civil disobedience action being not the least of these.

  17. Prof. Cole writes: “It is one of the problems with having a standing army and a huge intelligence-industrial complex, which the founding generation warned against– it becomes a lobby within the government for militarism and against civil liberties.” Precisely, and contrary to the way a few (not all) of the comments here prefer to characterize it, the appropriate “level of analysis” is not President Obama. As in ‘now my eyes have been opened to what a horrible person he is.’ This “personalist” reading of events is superficial and without a doubt fails to capture the logic of Obama’s position, which includes (as Cole rightly says) his to-some-extent capture by constituencies *inside* the government. The problem–as we used to say in the sixties!–is systemic and we will not succeed in tracing them to Obama’s personal character.

    • Obama is who he is, just as we all just who we are. No reason to expect markedly different persona to emerge during the remainder of his term.

      A huge energetic and competent base elected him in 08, not knowing that the base he was comfortable with lived elsewhere – on a very narrow NYC street and in large five sided building in Virginia. He signaled his base preference early on putting a bunch of harmless 125 hitters in his cabinet (being married to Bill does not make one a better batter).

      With his inherent coziness with the power elite he could have made incremental libertarian oriented changes to surveillance operations. Instead he became a total supporter.

  18. Thank you for this article. There are too few pointing out the obvious and keeping the revelations we’ve learned front and center.

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