Last Friday, President Barack Obama delivered his long-awaited speech addressing recent revelations that the federal government, especially the National Security Agency (NSA), has been engaged in a massive program surveilling the communications of virtually every American who uses a cell phone or other internet-based device. Obama, who claims to head the most “transparent” presidency ever, spoke glowingly and eloquently how his Administration will move actively to rein in the domestic spying program and strike the proper balance with civil liberties; unfortunately, he did neither.
On cue, of course, the Washington Post -- one of Obama’s most fervent enablers in the nation’s capital – promptly labeled the speech “productive,” and pleaded for patience as the President now undertook the “unsimple [sic] task of filling in the details.” The Post’s gobbledygook notwithstanding, given the lack of substance in the President’s long-winded, 45-minute speech, there is little reason Americans should trust or expect him to fill in the blanks later. In fact, his recent appointment of long-time friend and notorious Big Brother-advocate Cass Sunstein to the White House NSA-review panel, further belies the Commander in Chief’s commitment to “transparency.”
Americans largely have lost patience with this Administration’s pattern of obstructionism. According to a survey conducted immediately after Obama’s speech by the respected PEW/USA Today, a clear majority of Americans -- 53 percent -- still oppose the NSA’s daily collection of billions of phone calls, text messages and internet communications. The poll also suggested public opinion of the NSA remained unchanged after Obama’s speech, which was full of typical post-9/11 rhetoric, but woefully short on specifics.
At the Guardian, Glen Greenwald -- the reporter who worked with Edward Snowden to shine the first light on the NSA’s extra-legal activity -- called Obama’s reforms “little more than a PR attempt to mollify the public,” and concluded they would change nothing. “He drapes the banner of change over systematic status quo perpetuation,” wrote Greenwald.