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Obama’s NSA speech

EFF's scorecard on Obama's announcements

EFF's scorecard on Obama's announcements

I'm not a clever or sophisticated presidential speech analyst, or even very knowledgeable about the issues, but I realized that listening to Obama's speech on NSA and national security, was that besides the multiple contradictions, such as about protecting dissidents (like Snowden?), the speech could be interpreted as a kind of mirror writing, which illuminates the unresolved problems by his drawing attention to them and claiming to resolve them. A lesser speech might simply omit mention of the major unresolved problems. But Obama's technique is to show full awareness of the issues that trouble everyone and pretend to address them, without really doing so.* If you'd submit the speech to analysis, it could therefore be read point by point as an admission of guilt, as if a murderer's testimony in support of his innocence would mention details known only to himself.

And, "As the nation that developed the Internet, the world expects us to ensure that the digital revolution works as a tool for individual empowerment rather than government control." That's indeed what the world wants, Mr. Obama, but what it has come to expect is exactly the opposite.

There is also some comedy, in the way Obama echoed Snowden himself. In his cheery Christmas message, Snowden demanded: "Remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel asking is always cheaper than spying.” Obama: 'The leaders of our close friends and allies deserve to know that if I want to learn what they think about an issue, I will pick up the phone and call ...' Snowden: "privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.” Obama: "When you cut through the noise, what’s really at stake is how we remain true to who we are..."

clinton-and-obamaSomeone** tweeted a photo of an Obama speech in which Bill Clinton suddenly comes on stage waving to the audience and said, imagine if at the end of the speech, Snowden would show up behind Obama, all smiles.

The full speech is here.

* Others say he didn't:

"It was not what was in the President’s speech that was particularly noteworthy, as The New York Times aptly put it, but what was left out entirely. President Obama neglected to address many of the worries of the world’s largest tech companies — like Apple, Facebook, and Google, among others — delivering no assurances that the NSA would give up its practice of monitoring and sucking up the billions of bytes of data flowing to and from these companies’ users on a daily basis. It was a practice Google’s Eric Schmidt called “outrageous” at best and potentially illegal late last year."


** sorry, couldn't find who this was when I looked again, though I found the famous photo.