Obama was parsing, is all, counting on the possibility that most people glued to The Tonight Show were too stupid to read between his philosopher-king lines. The fact that the government is collecting all your information cannot be equated with snooping. Here, according to Charlie Savage in a controlled leak disguised as an exposé, is what they are really doing to you:
The N.S.A. is not just intercepting the communications of Americans who are in direct contact with foreigners targeted overseas, a practice that government officials have openly acknowledged. It is also casting a far wider net for people who cite information linked to those foreigners, like a little used e-mail address, according to a senior intelligence official.
While it has long been known that the agency conducts extensive computer searches of data it vacuums up overseas, that it is systematically searching — without warrants — through the contents of Americans’ communications that cross the border reveals more about the scale of its secret operations.You see, it is only collecting those emails containing top-secret keywords dreamed up by top-secret bureaucrats that might relate to people under surveillance who live across nonexistent cyberspace borders. Therefore, if I email my friend in New Zealand (who in turn emails someone else, who unbeknownst to us, is under surveillance because her Uncle Joe's email was once flagged for talking about the Boston Marathon bombing) I will probably end up getting noticed by Big Brother. And if I made the mistake of yacking about the new pressure cooker I just bought and the latest fictional terror plot, I am in triple trouble. Oops -- since I just speculated about it here, I am very likely on The List already. I wrote to a foreigner who writes to lots of other people. I mentioned a household WMD. I mentioned the NSA. I have a name. I exist. I communicate. Je pense, donc je suis. I use the Internet, therefore I am suspect. There can be no doubt.
Naturally, the "senior government official" who spilled his guts to Charlie Savage will not be prosecuted for leaking, because this was one of those "official leaks" designed to downplay the egregious nature of the revelations before Glenn Greenwald reports on them. Because, according to the official leaker, there are safeguards in place to ensure that once a corporate Booz Allen snoop does read my stuff based on a keyword alert, he will immediately recognize the mistake, immediately report the gaffe to a "superior" whose sole function apparently is sitting around waiting to throw the billions of inadvertently-collected emails in the Bonfire of Ill-Gotten Communications. This front-page Times scoop's purpose was to reassure me that Big Brother means me no harm. It was also meant to give Barack Obama cover for his Big Leno Lie.
There can be no doubt.
The Times, of course, is not alone in giving cover to Obama, who also hilariously insisted to Leno that Edward Snowden could have gone through proper whistleblowing channels instead of seeking political asylum elsewhere. As the FAIR blog points out today, corporate media hacks are hacking in droves, defending domestic spying, fear-mongering over Al Qaeda, and Cold War-mongering over Russia.
And as NBC's Lester Holt reported last night,
"While the cold war has been over for more than 20 years, the growing chill of late between Washington and Moscow became downright frosty today as President Obama called off his planned meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin, a response to Russia's grant of asylum to accused American spy Edward Snowden..."To be fair, the report was later "tweaked" as Holt once again downgraded Snowden to leaker status.
And conversely, civil rights icon John Lewis has now hastily retracted his glowing comparison of Snowden to Gandhi and Thoreau. He's done a complete 180, pivoting from praising Snowden for his courage to now condemning the actions that have "damaged American international relations and compromised our national security. He leaked classified information and may have jeopardized human lives."
Ouch. It appears that Lewis may have inadvertently been putting a damper on Obama's co-optation of the upcoming 50th anniversary of MLK's March on Washington. So -- down goes the praise, straight into Obama's bonfire of the vanities. The keywords are..... Damage Control.
Do you see where the propaganda brigade is taking this whole discussion? Snowden is now spying for Russia because he exists in Russia through no fault or plan of his own. The American media-industrial complex is even concern-trolling the historic Russian anti-gay agenda as an excuse to boycott the Winter Olympics. Before Snowden, they didn't care. This is all about American chest-thumping and last-gasp hegemony. All of a sudden, our Predator President is the victim instead of the bully. All of a sudden, those Yemenis are inexplicably chattering about revenge in response to our surgically precise and anonymous drone murders.
It was very telling that the president self-protectively spilled his angst-ridden guts to a comedian on TV, rather than, say, at an actual press conference where he might have run the risk of being asked a tough question by at least one renegade reporter.
But anyhow, it is gratifying to know that our politicians enjoy their gold-plated, no-deductible, no co-pay health insurance in order to pay for all the bodily harm and psychic assaults inflicted upon their sensitive selves by Vlad the Impaler and Snowden the Merciless. The casualty list is becoming quite extensive. Charles Schumer has been poked right in his beady little eyes at least a dozen times in the last week alone. Reports of penetrating back wounds among members of Congress have reached epidemic proportions. Paul Ryan has suffered the double indignity of being both knifed in the back and slapped in the face. Poor baby. Somebody get him a Medicare voucher, quick, before Babushka Putin gives our exceptional American freedoms another black eye.