Tag Archives: President Obama

The Age of No Privacy: The Surveillance State Shifts Into High Gear, by John W. Whitehead

You have, unless you want to stay locked up in a super-secure room all day, virtually zero privacy. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“We are rapidly entering the age of no privacy, where everyone is open to surveillance at all times; where there are no secrets from government.” ― William O. Douglas, Supreme Court Justice, dissenting in Osborn v. United States, 385 U.S. 341 (1966)

The government has become an expert in finding ways to sidestep what it considers “inconvenient laws” aimed at ensuring accountability and thereby bringing about government transparency and protecting citizen privacy.

Indeed, it has mastered the art of stealth maneuvers and end-runs around the Constitution.

It knows all too well how to hide its nefarious, covert, clandestine activities behind the classified language of national security and terrorism. And when that doesn’t suffice, it obfuscates, complicates, stymies or just plain bamboozles the public into remaining in the dark.

Case in point: the National Security Agency (NSA) has been diverting “internet traffic, normally safeguarded by constitutional protections, overseas in order to conduct unrestrained data collection on Americans.”

It’s extraordinary rendition all over again, only this time it’s surveillance instead of torture being outsourced.

In much the same way that the government moved its torture programs overseas in order to bypass legal prohibitions against doing so on American soil, it is doing the same thing for its surveillance programs.

By shifting its data storage, collection and surveillance activities outside of the country—a tactic referred to as “traffic shaping” —the government is able to bypass constitutional protections against unwarranted searches of Americans’ emails, documents, social networking data, and other cloud-stored data.

The government, however, doesn’t even need to move its programs overseas. It just has to push the data over the border in order to “[circumvent] constitutional and statutory safeguards seeking to protect the privacy of Americans.”

Credit for this particular brainchild goes to the Obama administration, which issued Executive Order 12333 authorizing the collection of Americans’ data from surveillance conducted on foreign soil.

 

To continue reading: The Age of No Privacy: The Surveillance State Shifts Into High Gear

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Obama intel agency secretly conducted illegal searches on Americans for years, by John Solomon and Sara Carter

Big Brother Obama, supposed constitutional scholar, went above and beyond the call of duty in shredding Americans’ civil liberties. From John Solomon and Sara Carter at circa.com:

The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community.

The Obama administration self-disclosed the problems at a closed-door hearing Oct. 26 before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that set off alarm. Trump was elected less than two weeks later.

The normally supportive court censured administration officials, saying the failure to disclose the extent of the violations earlier amounted to an “institutional lack of candor” and that the improper searches constituted a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue,” according to a recently unsealed court document dated April 26, 2017.

The admitted violations undercut one of the primary defenses that the intelligence community and Obama officials have used in recent weeks to justify their snooping into incidental NSA intercepts about Americans.

Circa has reported that there was a three-fold increase in NSA data searches about Americans and a rise in the unmasking of U.S. person’s identities in intelligence reports after Obama loosened the privacy rules in 2011.

Officials like former National Security Adviser Susan Rice have argued their activities were legal under the so-called minimization rule changes Obama made, and that the intelligence agencies were strictly monitored to avoid abuses.

To continue reading (and to read the FISA court opinion): Obama intel agency secretly conducted illegal searches on Americans for years

 

Guantánamo’s Last 100 Days, The Story That Never Was, by Karen Greenberg

The US government can decide a noncitizen is a terrorist and put them in prison for indefinite detention, with no right of habeas corpus. Such has been the fate of Guantánamo’s prisoners, some of them for over a decade. Hopes that Barack Obama would keep his campaign promises and shut Guantánamo were dashed, and President Trump wants to put more prisoners there. From Karen Greenberg at tomdispatch.com:

In the spring of 2016, I asked a student of mine to do me a favor and figure out which day would be the 100th before Barack Obama’s presidency ended. October 12th, he reported back, and then asked me the obvious question: Why in the world did I want to know?

The answer was simple. Years before I had written a book about Guantánamo’s first 100 days and I was looking forward to writing an essay highlighting that detention camp’s last 100 days. I had been waiting for this moment almost eight years, since on the first day of his presidency Obama signed an executive order to close that already infamous offshore prison within a year.

I knew exactly what I would write. The piece would narrate the unraveling of that infamous detention facility, detail by detail, like a film running in reverse. I would have the chance to describe how the last detainees were marched onto planes (though not, as when they arrived, shackled to the floor, diapered, and wearing sensory-deprivation goggles as well). I would mention the dismantling of the kitchen, the emptying of the garrison, and the halting of all activities.

Fifteen years after it was first opened by the Bush administration as a crucial site in its Global War on Terror, I would get to learn the parting thoughts of both the last U.S. military personnel stationed there and the final detainees, just as I had once recorded the initial impressions of the first detainees and their captors when Gitmo opened in January 2002. I would be able to dramatize the inevitable interagency dialogues about security and safety, post-Guantánamo, and about preparing some of those detainees for American prison life. Though it had long been a distant dream, I was looking forward with particular relish to writing about the gates slamming shut on that symbol of the way the Bush administration had sent injustice offshore and about the re-opening of the federal courts to Guantánamo detainees, including some of those involved in the planning of the 9/11 attacks.

To continue reading: Guantánamo’s Last 100 Days, The Story That Never Was

Watch: 5 Signs We’re Going to War: “A Plan Implemented By Bush, Continued Under Obama, And Kicked Up A Notch By Our New President”, by Melissa Dykes

From Melissa Dykes at The Daily Sheeple, via Mac Slavo at shtfplan.com:

Is it possible that not everything is as it seems?

While the majority of America is being distracted by shiny things and manipulated into civil unrest over identity politics, Melissa Dykes of The Daily Sheeple warns that an unprecedented push for war is underway.

It’s pretty clear that we’re being taken to war… A plan implemented by George W. Bush after 9/11… continued under Obama… and now kicked up a notch by our new President, Donald Trump.

Watch (3:52):

Obama’s Bombing Legacy, by Nicolas J. S. Davies

President Obama got a Nobel Peace Prize before he did anything to deserve it, and after he got it, everything he did contradicted it. From Nicolas J. S. Davies at antiwar.com:

As President Obama leaves office, much of his foreign policy record remains shrouded in the symbolism that has been the hallmark of his presidency. The persistence of Obama’s image as a reluctant war-maker and a Nobel Peace Prize winner has allowed Donald Trump and his cabinet nominees to claim that Obama has underfunded the military and been less than aggressive in his use of US military power.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and their claims are clearly designed only to justify even more extravagant military spending and more aggressive threats and uses of force than those perpetrated under Mr. Obama’s “disguised, quiet, media-free” war policy.

The reality is that Obama has increased US military spending beyond the post-World War II record set by President George W. Bush. Now that Obama has signed the military budget for FY2017, the final record is that Obama has spent an average of $653.6 billion per year, outstripping Bush by an average of $18.7 billion per year (in 2016 dollars).

In historical terms, after adjusting for inflation, Obama’s military spending has been 56 percent higher than Clinton’s, 16 percent higher than Reagan’s, and 42 percent more than the US Cold War average, when it was justified by a military competition with a real peer competitor in the Soviet Union. By contrast, Russia now spends one-tenth of what we are pouring into military forces, weapon-building and war.

What all this money has paid for has been the polar opposite of what most of Obama’s supporters thought they were voting for in 2008. Behind the iconic image of a hip, sophisticated celebrity-in-chief with strong roots in modern urban culture, lies a calculated contrast between image and reality that has stretched our country’s neoliberal experiment in “managed democracy” farther than ever before and set us up for the previously unthinkable “post-truth” presidency of Donald Trump.

To continue reading: Obama’s Bombing Legacy

The Issue Is Not Trump, It’s Us, by John Pilger

Mainstream writers have been as servile and unctuous as the mainstream press and mainstream Hollywood towards Barack Obama. “There is something both venal and profoundly stupid about famous writers as they venture outside their cosseted world and embrace an ‘issue.'” This article slices through a lot of bullshit. From John Pilger at telesurtv.net:

Under Obama, the U.S. extended secret “special forces” operations to 138 countries, or 70 percent of the world’s population.

On the day President Trump is inaugurated, thousands of writers in the United States will express their indignation. “In order for us to heal and move forward,” say Writers Resist, “we wish to bypass direct political discourse, in favor of an inspired focus on the future, and how we, as writers, can be a unifying force for the protection of democracy.”

They continue, “We urge local organizers and speakers to avoid using the names of politicians or adopting ‘anti’ language as the focus for their Writers Resist event. It’s important to ensure that nonprofit organizations, which are prohibited from political campaigning, will feel confident participating in and sponsoring these events.”

Thus, real protest is to be avoided, for it is not tax exempt.

Compare such drivel with the declarations of the Congress of American Writers, held at Carnegie Hall, New York, in 1935, and again two years later. They were electric events, with writers discussing how they could confront ominous events in Abyssinia, China and Spain. Telegrams from Thomas Mann, Cecil Day-Lewis, Upton Sinclair and Albert Einstein were read out, reflecting the fear that great power was now rampant and that it had become impossible to discuss art and literature without politics or, indeed, direct political action.

“A writer,” the journalist Martha Gellhorn told the second congress, “must be a man of action now … A man who has given a year of his life to steel strikes, or to the unemployed, or to the problems of racial prejudice, has not lost or wasted time. He is a man who has known where he belonged. If you should survive such action, what you have to say about it afterwards is the truth, is necessary and real, and it will last.”

To continue reading: The Issue Is Not Trump, It’s Us

An Inauguration Day Surprise? by Justin Raimondo

It’s low probability, but there are elements of the US government, including perhaps President Obama, who would like to stir up a war with Russia before Trump’s inauguration to prevent him from pursuing détente with Russia. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

Is the Obama administration out to provoke a military conflict with Russia in the days before Donald J. Trump takes the oath of office?

In July of 2014, the US announced the start of “Operation Atlantic Resolve” in response to the vote by Crimea – which took place nearly three years ago — to rejoin the Russian Federation. Now the Obama administration has announced that 6,000 more US troops will be deployed, initially in Germany and Poland, and eventually fanning out to Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Romania, and Slovakia. Accompanying them will be 144 Bradley fighting vehicles, 87 M1A1 tanks, heavy artillery, and aircraft.

Europe hasn’t seen such an increase in the US troop presence since the fall of the Soviet Union. Coming as it does with mere days left in Obama’s term of office, this action invites all sorts of speculation: however, one need not speculate as to whether this is a political move. Clearly it is: the idea is to box in President-elect Trump, who has expressed his desire to improve relations with Russia.

The mere expression of such a view has provoked a storm of abuse from the War Party, and a relentless campaign of calumny orchestrated by the CIA to the effect that Trump is “Putin’s puppet.” The deranged Democrats, looking for some way to excuse why their weak and widely disliked candidate lost the election, have explained it all away by claiming that a Russian conspiracy “stole” the White House from Hillary Clinton by revealing truthful and embarrassing information via Wikileaks. It doesn’t matter that there’s no evidence for this contention: in alliance with anonymous “US officials,” spooks, and “journalists” who believe everything the CIA tells them, this has become the elite consensus.

To continue reading: An Inauguration Day Surprise?