Obama’s Press Conference: The Smiling Face of a Police State
By Barry Grey
August 10, 2013
At Friday’s press conference, President Barack Obama resorted to outright lies in his defense of the massive and illegal surveillance programs exposed by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.
Obama made it clear that, as far as he was concerned, the problem was not that wholesale violations of the Constitution were being perpetrated by his government, but that these crimes had been made known and had alarmed the public. What was needed was a better job of public relations.
The press conference itself was thrown together to assuage popular anger and concern over the systematic violation of privacy rights. As Obama said, his aim was to “make the American people more comfortable” about government snooping on every aspect of their lives.
“America is not interested in spying on ordinary people,” Obama said, as if documents had never been published exposing the government’s seizure of records of all telephone calls placed in the United States, its dragnet of electronic communications around the world, its recording of license plates, and its photographing of letters.
This statement came one day after the New York Times reported that the NSA is “copying and then sifting through the contents of what is apparently most emails and other text-based communications that cross the border.” It followed last week’s exposure of the NSA’s XKeyscore program, which allows analysts to listen to phone calls and read emails at will without a warrant or authorization from higher-ups.
In a tone of seeming incomprehension, Obama said, “And a general impression has, I think, taken hold, not only among the American public but also around the world, that somehow we’re out there willy-nilly just sucking in information on everybody and doing what we please with it.”
But as everyone knows, that is precisely what the US government is doing.