IN OHIO, CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O'S APPROVAL RATING HAS FALLEN TO 34%, 60% DISAPPROVE OF BARRY O'S JOB PERFORMANCE AND 57% SAY HE IS NOT TRUSTWORTHY.
AS HIS POPULARITY CONTINUES TO CRATER, BARRY O ATTEMPTS TO PREPARE FOR HIS NEAR FUTURE AND, NO SURPRISE, THE VAPID DEBUTANTE SEES HIS FUTURE IN TV, SPECIFICALLY AS AN ESPN HOST.
REACHED FOR COMMENT, AN ESPN PRODUCER TOLD THESE REPORTERS, "WELL SURE, WE'D CONSIDER IT. BUT WE'D CHECK THE RESUME AND EXPERIENCE BECAUSE, UNLIKE THE U.S. PRESIDENCY, ESPN DOES NOT ALLOW YOU TO LEARN THE JOB AS YOU GO ALONG."
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Stephen McDonnell (Australia's ABC News) reports that US Vice President Joe Biden was in China today talking about trust, "Candour generates trust. Trust is the basis on which real change, constructive change, is made." It was really the wrong day for US officials to be preaching 'trust,' on the day when major revelations about NSA spying broke. It could have been worse possibly. For example, Biden could have been making those remarks in Cuba November 24th -- when Pravda reported:
The Agency for International Development (USAID) revealed the existence of a subversive program of six million dollars against Cuba. This information was known due to an error when using an unprotected line to send documents to U.S. diplomats in Havana. The plan was part of the semi-clandestine ploy to overthrow the communist government.
The material reveals that the entity launched last July the initiative SOL-OAA-13-00110 and at least 20 NGOs requested funding for the program which was to train dissidents in Cuba in the next three years, with a fund of $6 million. The goal was to provide opportunities for the opponents of the revolution traveling abroad , where they would acquire technical skills in a "number of areas considered important for the development of democracy and civil society" in Cuba, in clear subversion of the political order.
At the US State Dept Press briefing today, spokesperson Marie Harf was jabbering away about the "critical leadership role" played by the US government.
QUESTION: Marie, do you have a response to the Pew Research poll that was released yesterday which found that for the first time since the polls started, a majority of Americans say that the U.S. plays a less important and powerful role as a world leader than ever before?
MS. HARF: Well, I haven’t seen that poll. I’m happy to take a look at the numbers and see if I have anything additional to say on it. I think we’ve been very clear that -- in our policies all around the world that the U.S. plays a critical leadership role, and whether it’s economically, diplomatically, and a host of areas. And that’s why you see the Secretary traveling so much around the world to promote our interests and our values and talk about this all the time with different world leaders. So I would, I think, take issue with the notion, but I’m happy to look at the numbers and see if I have more analysis for you of it.
Poor Harf, she's always got at least one foot in her mouth. The the illegal spying? This evening Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani (Washington Post) filed a major report:
The National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world, according to top-secret documents and interviews with U.S. intelligence officials, enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals — and map their relationships — in ways that would have been previously unimaginable.
The records feed a vast database that stores information about the locations of at least hundreds of millions of devices, according to the officials and the documents, which were provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. New projects created to analyze that data have provided the intelligence community with what amounts to a mass surveillance tool.
The Washington Post has an illustrated walk through or flow chart on how this is taking place. Dana Liebelson (Mother Jones) goes through the Post's report and identifies five revelations including, "This is the big one -- 'A central feature of each of these tools is that they do not rely on knowing a particulat target in advance, or even suspecting one. They operate on the full universe of data in the NSA's [repository] which stores trillions of metadata records, of which a large but unknown fraction include locations,' wrote the Post. An intelligence lawyer said the data collection is not covered by the Fourth Amendment, which outlaws unreasonable searches and seizures."
The ACLU issued the following statement today:
December 4, 2013CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW YORK – The NSA is tracking the locations of a huge number of cell phones around the world, according to an article published today by The Washington Post. The report, based on documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, says the agency is analyzing the movements of many millions of cell phones worldwide, including those belonging to Americans travelling abroad. Catherine Crump, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, had this reaction:
“It is staggering that a location-tracking program on this scale could be implemented without any public debate, particularly given the substantial number of Americans having their movements recorded by the government. The paths that we travel every day can reveal an extraordinary amount about our political, professional, and intimate relationships. The dragnet surveillance of hundreds of millions of cell phones flouts our international obligation to respect the privacy of foreigners and Americans alike. The government should be targeting its surveillance at those suspected of wrongdoing, not assembling massive associational databases that by their very nature record the movements of a huge number of innocent people.”
More information on NSA spying is at:
Michael Winter (USA Today) notes, "The NSA said it does not intentionally target Americans' whereabouts but gets location data 'incidentally,' which the agency has declared lawful and aimed at foreign intelligence targets." Oh, well then, that takes care of it because the NSA would never lie. Oops, James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence lied to Congress. Fred Kaplan (Slate) observed in June:
Back at an open congressional hearing on March 12, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Clapper, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper replied, “No sir … not wittingly.” As we all now know, he was lying.
We also now know that Clapper knew he was lying.
Not only did Clapper lie but the White House sent the message that it was okay for Clapper to lie. President Barack Obama sent this message by refusing to call for Clapper's immediate resignation. Under Barack Obama, it is acceptable to lie to the Congress and the American people. When an administration has no ethics, it's one scandal after another (thereby summing up 2013). The lying never ends. And it's not limited to the White House. As Ali Watkins (McClatchy Newspaper) reminds, Senator Dianne Feinstein spoke about this spying in October but the NSA said she was wrong and Feinstein then avoided the press and had a statement issued about her being mistaken in her statements.
Monday, Kevin Gosztola (FireDogLake) reported:
A sheet of talking points for employees of the National Security Agency and Central Security Services, was sent out ahead of Thanksgiving to help guide conversations with family and friends during the holiday season.
Firedoglake obtained a copy of a two-page document that was sent out on November 22. It was clearly put together for rebutting statements about the NSA from news stories on documents disclosed by former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, and it encouraged employees to “share the following points with family members and close friends.”
The “talking points” sheet suggests that employees make five key points: (1) NSA’s mission is of great value to the Nation”; (2) NSA performs its mission the right way—lawful, compliant and in a way that protects civil liberties and privacy; (3) NSA performs its mission exceptionally well. We strive to be the best that we can be, because that’s what America requires as part of its defense in a dangerous world; (4) The people who work for NSA are loyal Americans with expert skills who make sacrifices to help protect the freedoms we all cherish; (5) NSA is committed to increased transparency, public dialog and faithful implementation of any changes required by our overseers. (No emphasis added. Underlines appear in the document.)
Creating an official series of talking points which are secretly distributed to government employees? That's dangerously close to a form of propaganda that's illegal in the United States -- the sort of propaganda which legally prevents The Voice of America from broadcasting over US radio airwaves. Mike Masnick (TechDirt) observes, "The NSA defends this program, arguing (as it always does) that there's nothing wrong with doing what it's doing. Billions of people living around the globe might disagree." Spencer Ackerman (Guardian) rebuts the talking points here.
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