Tag Archives: Washington Post

I Too Have Become Disillusioned

Newsweek 819

THE WASHINGTON POST ATTACKS OBAMA

[NOTE: The following would of little interest if I had written it. In fact I already have written it –– dozens of times. The remarkable thing is that finally, the Washington Post and Newsweek, both recognized as highly liberal, have seen fit –– at long last –– to print an article attacking President Obama  –– a newsworthy phenomenon in and of itself. The unpleasant truths about our President and his agenda are starting to trickle through the “protective wall” built around him by the liberal media. ~ FreeThinke]
By Matt Patterson ~ columnist for The Washington Post, The New York Post, The San Francisco Examiner [lightly edited with emphasis added by FT]
Years from now, historians may regard the 2008 election of Barack Obama as an inscrutable and disturbing phenomenon, the result of a baffling breed of mass hysteria akin perhaps to the witch craze of the Middle Ages. How, they will wonder, did a man so devoid of professional accomplishment beguile so many into thinking he could manage the world’s largest economy, direct the world’s most powerful military, execute the world’s most consequential job?
Imagine a future historian examining Obama’s pre-presidential life: ushered into and through the Ivy League, despite unremarkable grades and test scores along the way; a cushy non-job as a “community organizer;” a brief career as a state legislator devoid of legislative achievement –– nearly devoid of his attention in fact, so often did he vote “present;” and finally an unaccomplished single term in the United States Senate, the entirety of which was devoted to his presidential ambitions.
He left no academic legacy in academia, authored no signature legislation as a legislator. And then there is the matter of his troubling associations: the white-hating, America-loathing preacher who for decades served as Obama’s “spiritual mentor;” an actual real-life terrorist who served as Obama’s colleague and political sponsor. It is easy to imagine a future historian looking at it all and asking: how on Earth could such a man have been elected president?
Not content to wait for history … Norman Podhoretz addressed the question recently in the Wall Street Journal: To be sure, no white candidate who had close associations with an outspoken anti-American  like Jeremiah Wright and an unrepentant domestic terrorist like Bill Ayers, would have lasted a single day. But because Mr. Obama was black, and therefore entitled in the eyes of liberal Dom to have hung out with protesters against various American injustices, even if they were a bit extreme, he was given a pass. Let that sink in: Obama was given a pass –– held to a lower standard –– because of the color of his skin.
Podhoretz continues: And in any case, what did such ancient history matter when he was also so articulate and elegant and –– as he himself had said –– “non-threatening,” all of which gave him a fighting chance to become the first black president and thereby to lay the curse of racism to rest?
Podhoretz puts his finger, I think, on the animating pulse of the Obama phenomenon –– Affirmative Action. Not in the legal sense, perhaps, but certainly in the motivating sentiment behind all affirmative action laws and regulations, which are designed primarily to make … white liberals, feel good about themselves.
Unfortunately, minorities often suffer so that whites can pat themselves on the back. Liberals routinely admit minorities to schools for which they are not qualified, yet take no responsibility for the inevitable poor performance and high drop-out rates which follow. Liberals don’t care if these minority students fail; liberals aren’t around to witness the emotional devastation and deflated self-esteem resulting from the racist policy that is affirmative action. Yes, racist. Holding someone to a separate standard merely because of the color of his skin –– that’s affirmative action in a nutshell, and if that isn’t racism, nothing is.
And that is what America did to Obama. True, Obama himself was never troubled by his lack of achievements, but why would he be? As many have noted, Obama was told he was good enough for Columbia, despite undistinguished grades at Occidental; he was told he was good enough for the US Senate despite a mediocre record in Illinois; he was told he was good enough to be president despite no record at all in the Senate. All his life, every step of the way, Obama was told he was good enough for the next step, in spite of ample evidence to the contrary.
What could this breed if not the sort of empty narcissism on display every time Obama speaks? In 2008, many who agreed that he lacked executive qualifications nonetheless raved about Obama’s oratory skills, intellect, and cool character. Those people –– conservatives included –– ought now to be deeply embarrassed.
The man thinks and speaks in the hoariest of clichés, and that’s when he has his Teleprompter in front of him; when the prompter is absent, he can barely think or speak at all. Not one original idea has ever issued from his mouth –– it’s all warmed-over Marxism –– ideas that have failed over and over again for a hundred years.
And what about his character? Obama is constantly blaming anything and everything else for his troubles: Bush did it; it was bad luck; I inherited this mess. Remember, he wanted the job, campaigned for the task. It is embarrassing to see a president so willing to advertise his own powerlessness, so comfortable with his own incompetence. But really, what were we to expect? The man has never been held responsible for anything, so how do we expect him to act responsibly?
In short: our president is a small-minded man, with neither the temperament nor the intellect to handle his job. When you understand that, and only when you understand that, will the current erosion of liberty and prosperity make sense. It could not have gone otherwise with such a man in the Oval Office.
~ § ~
Remember please the foregoing was published in The Washington Post. That makes it extraordinary. Frankly, even I thought some of it excessively condemnatory. I also wonder how Mr. Patterson could know that President Obama’s grades were unremarkable, since most of us who do not respect the president’s political philosophy and worldview have complained for years that his academic record has been officially hidden from public view? Let us pray this new, cruelly critical approach will not serve merely to increase the sympathy vote for the foundering fiasco now occupying the White House.

 

NSA paid millions to cover Prism compliance costs for tech companies

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/23/nsa-prism-costs-tech-companies-paid

• Top-secret files show first evidence of financial relationship
• Prism companies include Google and Yahoo, says NSA
• Costs were incurred after 2011 Fisa court ruling

PRISM: 'really freaky'.

The material provides the first evidence of a financial relationship between the tech companies and the NSA.

The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program after a court ruled that some of the agency’s activities were unconstitutional, according to top-secret material passed to the Guardian.

The technology companies, which the NSA says includes Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook, incurred the costs to meet new certification demands in the wake of the ruling from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court.

The October 2011 judgment, which was declassified on Wednesday by the Obama administration, found that the NSA’s inability to separate purely domestic communications from foreign traffic violated the fourth amendment.

While the ruling did not concern the Prism program directly, documents passed to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden describe the problems the decision created for the agency and the efforts required to bring operations into compliance. The material provides the first evidence of a financial relationship between the tech companies and the NSA.

The intelligence agency requires the Fisa court to sign annual “certifications” that provide the legal framework for surveillance operations. But in the wake of the court judgment these were only being renewed on a temporary basis while the agency worked on a solution to the processes that had been ruled illegal.

An NSA newsletter entry, marked top secret and dated December 2012, discloses the huge costs this entailed. “Last year’s problems resulted in multiple extensions to the certifications’ expiration dates which cost millions of dollars for Prism providers to implement each successive extension – costs covered by Special Source Operations,” it says.

Fisa 1 An NSA newsletter entry dated December 2012 disclosing the costs of new certification demands. Photograph: guardian.co.ukSpecial Source Operations, described by Snowden as the “crown jewel” of the NSA, handles all surveillance programs, such as Prism, that rely on “corporate partnerships” with telecoms and internet providers to access communications data.

The disclosure that taxpayers’ money was used to cover the companies’ compliance costs raises new questions over the relationship between Silicon Valley and the NSA. Since the existence of the program was first revealed by the Guardian and the Washington Post on June 6, the companies have repeatedly denied all knowledge of it and insisted they only hand over user data in response to specific legal requests from the authorities.

An earlier newsletter, which is undated, states that the Prism providers were all given new certifications within days of the Fisa court ruling. “All Prism providers, except Yahoo and Google, were successfully transitioned to the new certifications. We expect Yahoo and Google to complete transitioning by Friday 6 October.”

Fisa 2 An earlier undated newsletter after the Fisa court ruling on certifications. Photograph: guardian.co.ukThe Guardian invited the companies to respond to the new material and asked each one specific questions about the scale of the costs they incurred, the form of the reimbursement and whether they had received any other payments from the NSA in relation to the Prism program.

A Yahoo spokesperson said: “Federal law requires the US government to reimburse providers for costs incurred to respond to compulsory legal process imposed by the government. We have requested reimbursement consistent with this law.”

Asked about the reimbursement of costs relating to compliance with Fisa court certifications, Facebook responded by saying it had “never received any compensation in connection with responding to a government data request”.

Google did not answer any of the specific questions put to it, and provided only a general statement denying it had joined Prism or any other surveillance program. It added: “We await the US government’s response to our petition to publish more national security request data, which will show that our compliance with American national security laws falls far short of the wild claims still being made in the press today.”

Microsoft declined to give a response on the record.

The responses further expose the gap between how the NSA describes the operation of its Prism collection program and what the companies themselves say.

Prism operates under section 702 of the Fisa Amendments Act, which authorises the NSA to target without a warrant the communications of foreign nationals believed to be not on US soil.

But Snowden’s revelations have shown that US emails and calls are collected in large quantities in the course of these 702 operations, either deliberately because the individual has been in contact with a foreign intelligence target or inadvertently because the NSA is unable to separate out purely domestic communications.

Last week, the Washington Post revealed documents from Snowden that showed the NSA breached privacy rules thousands of times a year, in the face of repeated assurances from Barack Obama and other senior intelligence figures that there was no evidence of unauthorised surveillance of Americans.

The newly declassified court ruling, by then chief Fisa judge John Bates, also revealed serious issues with how the NSA handled the US communications it was sweeping up under its foreign intelligence authorisations.

The judgment revealed that the NSA was collecting up to 56,000 wholly US internet communications per year in the three years until the court intervened. Bates also rebuked the agency for misrepresenting the true scope of a major collection program for the third time in three years.

The NSA newsletters say the agency’s response to the ruling was to work on a “conservative solution in which higher-risk collection would be sequestered”. At the same time, one entry states, the NSA’s general counsel was considering filing an appeal.

The Guardian informed the White House, the NSA and the office of the director of national intelligence that it planned to publish the documents and asked whether the spy agency routinely covered all the costs of the Prism providers and what the annual cost was to the US.

The NSA declined to comment beyond requesting the redaction of the name of an individual staffer in one of the documents.

UPDATE: After publication, Microsoft issued a statement to the Guardian on Friday afternoon.

A spokesperson for Microsoft, which seeks reimbursement from the government on a case-by-case basis, said: “Microsoft only complies with court orders because it is legally ordered to, not because it is reimbursed for the work. We could have a more informed discussion of these issues if providers could share additional information, including aggregate statistics on the number of any national security orders they may receive.”