9:16 AM, Aug 30, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Barack Obama said last night at a Democratic fundraiser in Rhode Island that the terrorism from ISIS "doesn’t immediately threaten the homeland." The reason? The security measures taken by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to Obama.
First the president said the situation in the Middle East is "scary," according to a transcript of the event released by the White House.
"I don’t have to tell you, anybody who has been watching TV this summer, it seems like it is just wave after wave ofupheaval, most of it surrounding the Middle East. You’re seeing a change in the order in the Middle East. But the old order is having a tough time holding together and the new order has yet to be born, and in the interim, it’s scary."
Then he told the Democratic donors not to worry because measures put in place by Bush and Cheney "make us ... pretty safe."
"The good news is that we actually have a unprecedented military capacity, and since 9/11 have built up a security apparatus that makes us in the here and now pretty safe. We have to be vigilant, but this doesn’t immediately threaten the homeland. What it does do, though, is it gives a sense, once again, for future generations, is the world going to be upended in ways that affect our kids and our grandkids."
Of course, Obama, who has blamed much on his predecessor, did not name Bush and Cheney.
But who "built up a security apparatus" after 9/11? President George W. Bush, with the assistance of his faithful vice president, Dick Cheney.
After crediting Republicans for keeping America safe, Obama went on to blame Republicans for making Washington dysfunctional:
I want to focus on this last thing, this third thing about -- that Washington doesn’t work. The tendency is to portray this as a problem with the system and a problem with both parties: politicians are corrupt, and there’s too much money, and the lobbyists have all this influence, and it doesn’t really matter who’s in charge -- no matter what, Washington doesn’t work.
And I’m here to assert -- although I admit that this is probably preaching to the choir -- that this is not a problem that both Democrats and Republicans suffer from. Democrats have their problems, Lord knows. Nancy, she deals with a caucus that occasionally is challenging. The Senate, by its nature, means that people have their quirky approaches to things. There are times where we’re too dogmatic about certain things, not flexible enough; we’re too captive to particular interests. It’s politics. It’s not perfect.
But the fact of the matter is, is that every time I came to Nancy Pelosi when she was Speaker and there was a tough issue, and the question was, were we going to do the right thing even if it was politically unpopular, Nancy and the democratic caucus in the House would step up and do it. And we had a whole bunch of people lose their seats because they thought it was the right thing to do.
The fact of the matter is, every time there has been the possibility of compromise on big issues like how we deal with our deficits and our debt, as unpalatable as it has sometimes been, we have been willing to put forward agendas that try to allow us to govern and meet Republicans more than half way.
This is not some equivalence between the parties. The reason government does not work right now is because the other party has been captured by an ideological, rigid, uncompromising core that ignores science, is not particularly interested in facts, is not particularly interested in compromise, but is interested in having its own way 100 percent of the time -- and that way, in large part, includes dismantling so much of what has created this incredible middle class and this incredible wealth here in America.
8:17 AM, Jul 16, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The threat to the U.S. government and U.S. businesses from foreign hackers, especially from China, has been increasingly in the news in recent months. In a little noticed WTOP interview last week, recently installed National Counterintelligence Executive William Evanina expressed the threat in terms that almost seem hyperbolic:
2:34 PM, Jul 10, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The topic of surveillance by the National Security Agency has arisen in, of all places, a House Republican primary in Kansas. Incumbent Mike Pompeo faced criticism from his challenger, former congressman Todd Tiahrt, over Pompeo's support for NSA surveillance programs. In a recent debate, Tiahrt accused Pompeo of "taking money from lobbyists and supporting the violation of the Fourth Amendment," while Pompeo replied that Tiahrt was misleading people about a program that keeps Americans safe.
2:10 PM, Jul 7, 2014 • By GARY SCHMITT
Yesterday, the Washington Post’s top story was another leak from NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Unlike many of the Post’s other Snowden stories, where sensationalism has greatly outweighed the reported facts about this or that NSA program, this one had more substance and less breathless analysis.
'Instead, the data should remain at the telephone companies for the length of time it currently does today.'9:08 AM, Mar 27, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama has released a statement "on the Section 215 Bulk Metadata Program," saying that "Having carefully considered the available options, I have decided that the best path forward is that the government should not collect or hold this data in bulk." The statement is released by the White House wile President Obama is in Rome.
Germany, Russia, and SnowdenFeb 24, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 23 • By JAMES KIRCHICK
Edward Snowden’s revelations about the foreign and domestic surveillance practices of the National Security Agency have inspired a great deal of anger around the world, but nowhere has the fury been stronger than in Germany. “Goodbye, Friends!” read the front page of Die Zeit last November, when it was disclosed that the NSA had monitored one of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phones. Der Spiegel, which breathlessly published a report last fall alleging the U.S.
9:01 AM, Feb 3, 2014 • By GARY SCHMITT
In the immediate days leading up to President Obama’s January 17 speech on the National Security Agency, news stories and leaks from the White House suggested the president would largely ignore the set of overhauls that had been put forward by his own presidential review panel—Peter Baker’s New York Times front-page story, “Obama’s Path from Critic to Overseer of Spying,” is a good example. But then the president gave his speech and, while the changes he offered up were not as radical as the panel’s recommendations, he did go farther than the pre-speech spin stories led you to believe by requiring each and every search of the NSA database to have judicial approval, which is a major modification to the program.
11:13 AM, Jan 24, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
In a little noticed interview President Obama did with German media last weekend, he defended his positioning on the NSA by saying, "I am one figure, one man in this broader process."
Feb 3, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 20 • By GARY SCHMITT
In the wake of all the “leaks” by Edward Snowden of the National Security Agency’s collection programs and the resulting debate over those programs, one constantly hears from elected officials and the commentariat about the need to strike the right balance between privacy and security. More often than not, this is followed by a suggestion that, as a country, since 9/11, we haven’t.
5:36 PM, Jan 17, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Florida senator Marco Rubio says that "some" of President Obama's proposed changes to the way the NSA collects date "go too far."
“Our intelligence collection programs are vital tools used by the government to defend the security of the U.S. homeland. I am concerned that some of President Obama’s suggestions today go too far and may make it more difficult for the government to carry out its constitutional responsibility to keep Americans safe," reads a statement released by Rubio's Senate office.
2:01 PM, Jan 17, 2014 • By GARY SCHMITT
Thankfully, President Obama is not a doctor. If he was and you happened to visit him in his office and mentioned that you were worried about the potential for lung cancer, he’d immediately put you under, open you up, and pull out a lung—or, at least, that’s the logic that seems to be guiding his decisions on NSA’s collection programs. Yes, no one has found any evidence that NSA has broken the law, invaded constitutionally-protected privacy rights, or is about to. But never mind, it’s the very possibility that someday, somehow, NSA will jump the tracks that requires the president now to unduly complicate the use of what he admits has been an important counterterrorism tool.
'We will not apologize simply because our services may be more effective.'12:04 PM, Jan 17, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama announced that U.S. intelligence will still "gather information about the intentions of governments," despite changes to the NSA programs:
11:19 AM, Jan 17, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The complete text of President Obama's NSA speech, which he's delivering now at the Justice Department:
The NSA on trial.Jan 13, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 17 • By GARY SCHMITT
Not that long ago, one could assume that a judge with an activist approach to interpreting the Constitution was probably left-of-center politically and, accordingly, believed that overturning precedents was often necessary in order to make the Constitution relevant to present issues and alive to evolving democratic mores.