back to article Obama weighs in on NSA surveillance imbroglio

President Obama has offered a defense of Verizon's handing over mobile phone metadata to the US National Security Agency and the allegations that the same agency's PRISM program is tapping into the servers of several major internet service providers. "You can't have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy …

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  1. E 2

    Obvious solution

    Make all records for everything public. No more "freedom of Information" laws that actually obscure information. Make it such that all telco/ISP/govt records are public.

  2. Flip

    goose and gander

    I wonder if the First Family and white house staffers use Verizon? Would they be exempt? It sounds like an all-encompassing data dump, so I'm sure that people for and against this type of thing are included. It all depends on what triggers a "closer look".

    1. 142
      Alert

      Re: goose and gander

      Their phone network's a moot point. One would suspect they're under the closest surveillance of anyone in the US..

      1. Don Jefe
        Happy

        Re: goose and gander

        Moot actually means debatable; generally a difficult or complex topic that needs to be considered from all sides. It is commonly misused.

        1. 142

          Re: goose and gander

          What!? Ok, noted.

          Obviously I meant to drop the t. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIkJ4BUChxI

        2. Tom 13
          Headmaster

          @Don Jefe

          2: deprived of practical significance : made abstract or purely academic

          http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/moot

  3. Arachnoid
    Thumb Down

    You cant guarantee 100% security its a pipe dream so stop using it as an example

    1. BillG Silver badge
      WTF?

      Constitution FAIL

      "You can't have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We're going to have to make some choices as a society," Obama said

      There's a difference between tapping someone on the arm verses shoving your hand up their ass and calling it an "inconvenience".

    2. Alan Firminger

      In the UK we kill just short of a thousand each year, in the USA it is ten times that. So let us try to get this down to zero and let us get terrorism down to zero as well, but accept that the fact of a free society is that cars and bleach bomb can and will kill.

      Of course I will grieve if my loved one is taken by a car, or a terrorist strike, but this does not invalidate the argument.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You beat me to it.

      You bet me to it - have an upvote. But yes, we cannot have 100% security, and as Franklin said, "Those who would trade essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither".

      I'd rather risk some degree of TERRRRRORRRRRRISSSSSMMMMM<FNORD!> than lose my liberties.

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Exactly, nobody asked for 100% security or 100% privacy. Most people realise both are unattainable.

      I really doubt that this has increased security at all but it's certainly rolled back privacy. What the US should be demanding of its administration now is to say which group of people were put in prison for an terrorist plot and what evidence was used to put them in prison. They seem unable to do this. Wheeling out Obama to say something nice while he's off to see the Chinese president (ha) isn't enough.

      1. Katie Saucey
        Black Helicopters

        @Dan 55 : Exactly, nobody asked for 100% security or 100% privacy.

        "Exactly, nobody asked for 100% security or 100% privacy. Most people realise both are unattainable."

        Actually I don't remember the public being "asked" about anything. The gov just did it. That's the real issue that these idiots in power are trying to dodge, and the issue that the American voter should be most worried and screaming about.

  4. Timmay
    Flame

    "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear"

    1. Mycho Silver badge

      "If you have nothing to hide you have nothing at all."

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Pirate

      Then...

      once you have nothing to fear, you have nothing to lose.

      1. Circadian

        Re: Then...

        "A man with nothing left to lose is a man without fear"

        1. Mycho Silver badge

          Re: Then...

          "When you have learned to snatch the error code from the trap frame, it will be time for you to leave."

          1. 404 Silver badge

            Re: Then...

            "Life sucks, then you die."

    3. Timmay
      Trollface

      RE: nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear

      Glad to see at least 6 of you took the flamebait!

    4. Anonymous Сoward
      Trollface

      "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear"

      Try saying that to big bubba in prison for me, oh yeah Prison, the safest place to be, and you still get raped. go jump off the nearest dock please, you won't be missed with that mentally retarded phrase.

      "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear"

      That also reminds me, you won't have a problem with handing over your birth certificate, driving license, and social security details, bank details, medical details, DVLA details, Tax details, Computer hard drives and USB drives.

      What's that? you actually value your privacy? you must be a FUCKING Terrorist! Get outta here!

  5. Nuno
    WTF?

    USA <-> CHINA

    wasn't it supposed for the USA to put pressure on China to respect human rights and all that? It now looks like that it's USA using China's methods instead!

    Sad times...

    1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: USA <-> CHINA

      Welcome to the United Stasi of America

    2. Tom 13

      Re: USA <-> CHINA

      Only useful idiots are surprised by this. He and his administration have held out Mao as a leader to be emulated.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AND

    It did not stop the Boston Bomber, either, Mr Obama!

    Idiotic comment.

    1. henrydddd

      Re: AND

      The real sad thing is that the Patriot Act was enacted into law under the Bush administration. Many years ago, I read an article that every email sent in the US went through 20 government data centers looking for words like "bomb", "ghad", etc. I also read that phone calls were being scanned for people using the same words. The real laugh is that Obama can't change this law. It must be changed by Congress and approved by him So far, President obama can't get his appointments passed by Congress and I doubt that he can change/scrap this law. My real question to you extremist-conservatives is where were you when the Patriot Act was passed and why didn't you scream bloody murder then????????????

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: AND

        I *did* scream bloody murder then. Didn't do a damned bit of good, obviously.

      2. Oninoshiko

        Re: AND

        1) I opposed it then

        2) I still oppose it now

        3) what in the hell is a ghad?

        1. Don Jefe
          Holmes

          Re: AND

          I was perplexed as well, at first. I believe 'ghad' to either be a deliberate misspelling of jihad in an attempt to obfuscate his messages from keyword driven surveillance software or it could mean property once belonging to or very similar to previous property of a 'gangsta': ex. Ghad a car like that once except it had 20" spinners on.

          Alternatively, since he obfuscated his meaning from those he was attempting to communicate with, the author may simply be an idiot.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: AND

        1) I'm sure they never got a ghad" hit.

        2) Bomb you say? How about these?

        bombard

        bombarded

        bombardier

        bombardiers

        bombarding

        bombardment

        bombardments

        bombardon

        bombardons

        bombards

        bombast

        bombastic

        bombastically

        bombasts

        bombax

        bombazine

        bombazines

        bombe

        bombed

        bomber

        bombers

        bombes

        bombesin

        bombesins

        bombinate

        bombinated

        bombinates

        bombinating

        bombination

        bombinations

        bombing

        bombings

        bombload

        bombloads

        bombproof

        bombs

        bombshell

        bombshells

        bombsight

        bombsights

        bombycid

        bombycids

        bombyx

        bombyxes

        cabomba

        cabombas

        divebomb

        divebombed

        divebombing

        divebombs

        firebomb

        firebombed

        firebombing

        firebombs

        letterbomb

        letterbombs

        mailbomb

        mailbombed

        mailbombing

        mailbombs

        superbomb

        superbomber

        superbombers

        superbombs

        1. Circadian
          Unhappy

          Re: AND

          (long list of words)...

          you missed Tom Bombadil

          Does that mean that every Tolkien fan is now on a watchlist?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: AND

          and the obligatory

          Obomba

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: AND

          oooh you are SO going on the naughty chair for that many bombs....

          Dammit, so am I....

      4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: AND

        "My real question to you extremist-conservatives is where were you when the Patriot Act was passed and why didn't you scream bloody murder then????????????"

        Simple.

        It was introduced a very short time after 9/11/01 and is very big.

        The Legislature is not immune to mob hysteria "Something must be done. America must be protected etc."

        It's suspiciously large and complex nature (and the speed with which it sprang fully formed) is part of the reason background to the "9/11 was an inside job" conspiracy theory. You definitely got the idea someone had been working on an "undermine all constitutional checks and balances (and scrap probable cause) act" for some time and 9/11 was just a convenient excuse to introduce it.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: AND

          I agree, it is far too complex to have been drafted while the entire country was still in chaos. I've read the entire act and referenced acts and amendments several times and the level of completion is extraordinarily high: Too high for something written in house (ha see what I did there).

          Very few 'lawmakers' write the laws anymore. They sponsor legislation written by trade groups and think tanks. In 2011 something like 93% of all legislation that was passed into law was composed wholly or partly by 3rd parties with no elected authority. What they get is far beyond their average level of comprehension and they are simply too busy fund raising to read such lengthy and boring things.

          I don't think there was any 9/11 conspiracy, but as you say those events created a perfect opportunity to crank up the pork barrel machinery.

      5. Tom 13

        Re: The real laugh is that Obama can't change this law.

        Actually if you'd been paying attention instead of engaging in another bout of BDS you know he did. He loosened the limited restrictions Bush had in place under the Patriot Act.

  7. Azzy

    I don't call this "making choices as a society"

    How could the society have made the choice, when the society in question wasn't even aware of the program until someone leaked a request document?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't call this "making choices as a society"

      ...Roll on the Military–industrial spending complex which appears unstoppable, no matter who you vote for! We are but Pawns!

    2. csumpi
      Mushroom

      Re: I don't call this "making choices as a society"

      Of course society made this choice, by reelecting this idiot.

      1. Daniel B.

        Re: I don't call this "making choices as a society"

        The other idiot would ha ve also done the same, the difference would be that he wouldn't even try to justify his actions!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Meh

          Re: I don't call this "making choices as a society"

          "The other idiot would ha ve also done the same, the difference would be that he wouldn't even try to justify his actions!"

          No, he too voted for the Act that is permitting such actions so aggressively. All them are guilty, and any of them acting shocked is equivalent to admitting they don't know what they sign into law.

          Here's McCain...

          Voted YES on extending the PATRIOT Act's roving wiretaps. (Feb 2011)

          Voted YES on reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act. (Mar 2006)

          Voted YES on extending the PATRIOT Act's wiretap provision. (Dec 2005)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I don't call this "making choices as a society"

            He also sneaked into Syria to meet with the rebels (aka al Qaeda) saying the US should give them heavy weapons.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't call this "making choices as a society"

      If those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear - why is Bradley Manning being prosecuted?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cha-cha-cha-changes

    "[Obama] admitted that when he first took office, he was wary of such surveillance. His changed his mind, however."

    Once he found out how cool it was to be able to use it against his opponents, and to extend his own power.

    "I hope you won't notice nothing's changed and how transparent my lies have been."

  9. Arachnoid
    Stop

    London

    As has been pointed out the capital has more cameras per square mile than all other city yet crime still goes on as usual.........I think there's a lesson to be learned from that dont you?

    And yes I have plenty to hide and its all MY personal data.

  10. zanshin
    FAIL

    He's right. We need to make a choice.

    We choose less surveillance.

    1. Peter Simpson 1
      Thumb Up

      Re: He's right. We need to make a choice.

      You know what? I'm fine with 80% security.

      And we will never have 100% security (at least, not in Boston), so I'm good with 80%

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: He's right. We need to make a choice.

      "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty".

      - Thomas Jefferson (who would definitely be in Guantanamo - or in the ground - if he lived in our times)

  11. skeptical i
    Thumb Down

    Maybe this explains the uptick in IT employment.

    Lots of false positives (e.g., people who have relatives in the terrorist nest du jour calling to wish someone happy birthday or check on health issues or whatever people call family to do) will keep people running around chasing shadows and eventually someone's going to ask for "deliverables" to justify the expense -- what could possibly go wrong? Buttle, Tuttle, it's all the same.

    Re: "You can't have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We're going to have to make some choices as a society," Obama said -- it sounds like the choice has already been made for us, sir, but the belated fig leaf of concern is still quite touching.

  12. Quxy
    Facepalm

    "capacity to anticipate and prevent possible terrorist activity"?

    Go on, name *one* example where that's worked out for you.

  13. Don Jefe
    Unhappy

    Job Description

    The job of U.S. President has two primary components in its official job description: To uphold the Constitution and protect the citizens from harm from other nations. You can't fulfill just one requirement and be considered to be succeeding, you must fulfill all the requirements simultaneously. If you are unable to meet the basic requirements you are unfit for the role (that goes for any job).

    I hate to be so harsh, I voted for the guy and I even contributed money for both of his elections but feel like I got fucked and didn't even get cab fare for the trip home. Besides, these policies didn't stop the bombings in Boston so they obviously aren't working. The answer is to back down and design another approach or risk ending up like MS & Win8. (Last sentence for the IT tie in).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I agree completely

      However, Obama at least *promised* positive change, in contrast to my "duly elected representatives [who] have been consistently informed on exactly what we're doing", where nearly all the possible candidates were so despicable that my only choice was writing in third parties. ("Write to your Congressman", indeed!)

      1. Scott 1
        Stop

        Re: I agree completely

        From my point of view, here's what you essentially just said:

        Sure, Mr. Obama is a jerk with no respect for individual liberty, just like all my other elected representatives, but at least he's a liar who breaks his promises, too!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I agree completely

          Yes, as it turns out. I was just rationalising why I "voted for the jerk".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Job Description

      Yeh, well, were you expecting something amazing the second time? I too voted for him the first election, but even before his first term was over, he faded into the puppet gallery for me. After an actual honest read of his healthcare plan (or is it his?), the conspiracy side of me sees what he has been put in power for (tax penalties for not having healthcare...really?)

      As far as this particular privacy issue, I can't say I blame him directly. I can't say that because 12 years ago congress put in place the PATRIOT ACT for these very practices, so I'm just not shocked that a president, any president, has activated and utilized these practices. However if these practices continue, I'm not sure if designing another approach is feasible, and a tried and true MS approach may be needed...Crash & Reboot.

      1. Don Jefe
        Unhappy

        Re: Job Description

        I was willing to hope (haha) that he would change (haha again) and man up and kick a little ass since he had his 'mandate of the people'. Not only did he not man up, he's let his government run wild and resorted to the cowardly tactics of legal manipulation.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Job Description

          "I was willing to hope (haha) that he would change (haha again) and man up and kick a little ass since he had his 'mandate of the people'. Not only did he not man up, he's let his government run wild and resorted to the cowardly tactics of legal manipulation."

          With respect I'm not sure you realize that the in some ways the President is like the Queen, rather than the Prime Minister of the UK.

          In the UK laws ultimately require "Royal Assent." She says "No" it's not a law. But that would probably mean the PM and his parties days in charge (or currently in coalition) were numbered.

          Michale Moore, the Tea Party and RA Heinlein's "Take Back Your Government" tell you what has to be done to affect change. Look at how low the turnout is for such elections. A few percent who are both angry and motivated could get them thrown out. Did your Congressman/Senator vote for the USA PATRIOT act? If so perhaps when election time comes round you it's time for a little "regime change."

          1. Don Jefe

            Re: Job Description

            I do realize the limits placed on the President (and why they are a Good Thing) but the role still possesses enormous power. He isn't using what powers he does have to exercise much authority. I couldn't stand Bush mkII or his policies but the little fella was an effective leader, he got stuff done.

            My previous Representative voted for the PATRIOT act the first time but not for its renewals after the sunset clause kicked in. My new Rep hasn't had an opportunity to vote on it yet. I sent her a letter (traditional letter) asking her position on the Act and her position in the new surveillance revelations, her response will dictate where my money and where my vote goes next cycle.

            I actually had hopes for the Tea Party but along with a minority of intelligent people they've also attracted the fringe and uncompromising single issue activists with limited potential for leadership. I went to a few of their meetings in Northern Virginia where I live and it was kind of scary: Too extreme.

            I would like to see a viable third party get some traction but those that exist are proposing too much change too fast. It took centuries for this county to get into this mess and changing course is going to take a while to accomish. Being too abrupt will guarantee a quick return to the 'safe' system we have today.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Choices

    Obama: "We're going to have to make some choices as a society."

    Yeah, buddy, but *we* don't want *you* making choices that strip us of our privacy.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Choices

      "Yeah, buddy, but *we* don't want *you* making choices that strip us of our privacy."

      He did not.

      George W. Bush did that.

      Or rather the "Coalition of the willing" he was the sock puppet for.

      But he is guilty of perpetuating it.

  15. Greg J Preece

    "They make a difference in our capacity to anticipate and prevent possible terrorist activity," Obama said, claiming that the surveillance is conducted "under very strict supervision by all three branches of government, and they do not involve listening to people's phone calls, do not involve reading the e-mails of US citizens and US residents."

    Don't be ridiculous....that's what PRISM is for!

  16. NoneSuch
    Big Brother

    Didn't Obama get elected to counter the Bush Cowboy approach to international relations?

    Not only are all of the laws from Bush still in effect, Obama's administration have increased them to a Gestapo like level.

    Anyone else expecting Graham Chapman in a Brigadier uniform to step in and stop this because its gotten too silly?

    1. Don Jefe

      That's what is so terribly disappointing, at least with Bush Jr. he did exactly what he said on the tin: No surprises. Obama was supposed to be cultured and more civilized. Instead it is looking like Obama is the worst kind of person; disingenuous and deliberately misleading as to his true character. A real let down.

  17. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Flame

    So disappointing.....

    That so many Americans have been allowed themselves to be duped by the fear of terrorists. It was bad enough when it started out as warrantless wiretaps to watch Americans and their overseas calls. Now it's everybody calling anywhere on every wireless network, plus their IP voice/data traffic, plus their social media, and I'd have to say that there is a 90%+ chance that an as-yet undisclosed program is watching our wireline traffic.

    Lately there have been a number of Nixon vs. Obama comparisons in the media, so here's mine:

    Nixon era: "We had to destroy the village in order to save it"

    Obama era: We have to destroy freedom in order to save it

    And it's not like we have a great option to Obama's cynicism. Let's face it, the Demos and Republicans are the Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum of the surveillance state....

    1. 0_Flybert_0
      Black Helicopters

      Re: So disappointing.....

      "Americans ... duped by the fear of terrorists"

      excuse me .. out of the 1000s of Americans I know and have known since 9/11/01 ( or ever ) .. haven't met ONE that has a 'fear of terrorists' .. NEVER have heard a regular citizen say they are afraid to go to the local market .. or a sporting event .. no fear of crossing bridges .. no fear of flying ( because of terrorists )

      a good majority have however .. been duped into thinking the liberals are there "for the people" when *all* US politicians .. with sadly few exceptions .. are there for themselves and their military-industrial-bankster-megacorp buddies ..

      With Bush and the Republicans .. you'd get a "Let's see how we can fool them today" type statement every 3-4 weeks .. with Obama's administration .. every speech now contains multiple incredulous statements and the rest of the prose is on the order of:

      "We can all agree that sunny days at 72F is where we want to go and I will fight the partisan divisions to ensure, for future generations .. that the sky continues to be the blue."

  18. Random Coolzip

    "dually elected officials"

    That's right -- elected by the people and by the special interests they serve.

    1. Fatman Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: "dually elected officials"...the special interests they serve.

      I expect to be flamed for this, so, pardon me while I put on my Nomex suit.

      There, now you can flame away.

      Let us go back to end of WW2, Hitler was dead, Germany was defeated, we (that being the USA) nuked Japan twice, and that bloody war was over. Or was it? An awful lot of money got spent in the fight to defeat the Fascists. And the military-industrial complex took notice. President Eisenhower WARNED US about it, and no one paid any attention.

      Rising out of the ashes, was a new villain: Communism, and the spread of the Red Menace across parts of Europe and Asia. That begat a new type of 'war', dubbed The Cold War. "We got to stop those goddam Russkies" paraphrases the sentiment of many politicians of the time. And the defense industry LOVED IT!!!. Politicians do not want to be seen as "soft on Communism", so they bought into the defense industry lie, hook, line and sinker. And the ($$$$BILLIONS) flowed.

      The USA got itself tied up in two Asian wars (Korea and Viet Nam), and LOST both. Now, someone who is slightly awake will spout out that we didn't LOSE Korea. To that, I will say: "BULLSHIT!!!" Does the antics of their current leader suggest that we won?? If we WON, he would not be in power. Then there is that disgrace called Viet Nam, where the civilian leadership was too goddammed worried about 'image'. We should have either fought to win, or got the fuck out of there. If we had done the latter, who knows how many of the 58,000+ we lost there would have lived. But the defense industry kept raking in the $$$BILLIONS.

      Fast forward to the fall of the Soviet Union. You might hope that with the demise of the Big Bad Bear, some of those $BILLIONS squandered on defense spending just might get re-directed into more useful purposes, rather than be squandered on weapons of war. You can bet your sweet ASS that the defense industry was going to do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to keep that GRAVY TRAIN running. Along the way, the Cunts In America get us tangled up with all kinds of dictators and despots. That's OK, as long as they are OUR dictators and despots. You do know who we allied with in Afghanistan to defeat the Soviets, don't you???? Once we no longer needed them, they became expendable, and suddenly had an excuse to want to extract revenge. Now, we have been tied up in more war for the past 10+ years, and now it is $$$$TRILLIONS of GDP being squandered on the defense industry, and WEAPONS OF WAR. Isn't it about time that shit STOP!!!! With the winding down of those wars, the defense industry needs a new villain, a mythological villain called a terrorist.

      So, let me pose this one simple question:

      WHO has the MOST to lose if the $$$TRILLIONS now being squandered on weapons of war and defense spending were to suddenly vanish???

      All of this bullshit about running around looking for terrorists is nothing more than a smokescreen for the defense industry to keep its GRAVY TRAIN running at full speed. And government officials (of BOTH parties) are willing accomplices.

      Congress: representatives of the People bought and paid for by the special interests.

      Let the flaming begin.

      1. Fatman Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: "dually elected officials"...the special interests they serve. EDIT

        EDIT TO Now, someone who is slightly awake will spout out that we didn't LOSE Korea. To that, I will say: "BULLSHIT!!!" Does the antics of their current leader OF NORTH KOREA suggest that we won?? If we WON, he would not be in power.

        I needed to make it clear who I was referring to when I initially specified current leader, lest I piss off any South Koreans.

        ICON awarded for my FAILing to be clear in the first post about who the "current leader" referred to.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: "dually elected officials"...the special interests they serve. EDIT

          We didn't LOSE Korea.

          1. Fatman Silver badge

            Re: We didn't LOSE Korea.

            Supposedly the goal of going to war is to WIN, and defeat your opponent.

            Well, considering that North Korea has continued to exist since the armistice was signed in 1953, I certainly do not consider it a WIN, at best a 60 year old stalemate, one that has gone for too long.

            IMHO, we can thank our friends at the UN for that.

            1. Don Jefe

              Re: We didn't LOSE Korea.

              South Korea is our friend, they make nice phones and TV's. How about 50% of a win...

              1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
                IT Angle

                Re: We didn't LOSE Korea.

                "How about 50% of a win..."

                And don't they also make 90-95% of all the RAM as well?

                A lot computers would look a bit empty with out those modules inside.

              2. Fatman Silver badge

                Re: We didn't LOSE Korea...South Korea is our friend,

                I NEVER said they weren't.

                BUT(T), the continued existence of North Korea is an overgrown, swollen pustule on the backside of humanity, and should have been popped a long time ago.

                South Koreans would not have had to endure 60 years worth of sabre rattling from North Korea's demented leaders had the war in Korea been WON.

                NOW, do you get my point!???

  19. David 45

    "We"

    "We are going to have to make some choices as a society". Just who does "we" refer to in this case? Seems the public had no say in the matter as it was all super-secret in a so-called democratic country. Now it's come to light, the folk responsible are desperately trying to play it down. Just what other fiendish, "top secret" schemes are being perpetrated in the name of national security?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "We"

      I call it "the royal non-inclusive we" - the "we" that is used by people in power to mean "YOU<plural>", and does NOT include the person speaking.

      "I'm afraid WE are all going to have to work overtime and weekends to get this project out the door - whoops! my tee-time is in 15, so nose to the grindstone everybody!"

      "I'm afraid WE will all have to cut our energy usage - whoops! here's my limo and 5 escort vehicles, gotta dash!"

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    oh well.

    His speechwriter has probably never read any Jefferson.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "That so many Americans have been allowed themselves to be duped by the fear of terrorists."

    Actually, I think that is what they want you to believe :-/. I either don't hang out in the right circles (or wrong), or I've just managed to somehow dodge every person who thinks the terrorist threat is at these publicized levels. I honestly think the government just publicizes it that way to get away with more than they should. The government throws around the word "attack" so much that I'm starting to wonder what it would be called if an actual war broke out on our soil, because the word "invasion" just doesn't imply enough fear for government standards.

    1. Don Jefe

      Kind of like calling a pressure cooker a Weapon Of Mass Destruction. Hyperbole has become the standard from the government.

  22. OpenIndiana
    Megaphone

    3 words.

    Fuck You Obama!

    1. NomNomNom

      racism?

      1. heyrick Silver badge
        FAIL

        Why is saying "Fuck you" racist?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          It isn't, unless you say it to someone who isn't white.

          1. nuked
            Joke

            Here, I've corrected your icon.

  23. shawnfromnh
    WTF?

    100% security

    100% really? I guess we don't count the Boston Marathon. I guess those brothers found the one way to get around security by just going to Russia to be trained and just come back and make a bomb with telling anyone or talking about it through some communications network.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 100% security

      They are (or were) Chechens, moron. The Chechens are no friends of the Russians. Lookup the Moscow theatre hostage crisis for an example. They went via Turkey, the NATO gateway for Chechen terrorists.

      The Russians warned the US about the two individuals, which the US appears to have ignored.

  24. Rick Giles
    Black Helicopters

    None of this is about security

    It's all about control.

  25. Daniel B.

    Obama, Ben Franklin called.

    "Those who would trade essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither."

    Sadly, Obama is the lesser of two evils.

    1. Mycho Silver badge

      Re: Obama, Ben Franklin called.

      Why do people think those two are interchangeable anyway?

      Security means you don't get beaten up in the street.

      Liberty means you don't get dragged off the street and beaten up in a police van.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank God Nixon and McCarthy are dead!

    If either of those two blokes were alive, it would be a whole different story. Tricky Dicky would be looking for Democrats and their secrets, while Mc the Knife would have been finding commies by the minute.

    Give people the tools and someone will come along and abuse them. There's already evidence over at the IRS this month. Imagine if they knew everything!

    Is the President telling the whole truth? NSA has been able to look at all US cell phone call content for years. They do it routinely and legally overseas. For a while they pretended to folllow FISA, and not look at US stuff, but got around that with "Echelon" which gave the raw data to the UK, who did the interception and fed it back as "legal foreign-sourced intelligence".

    Bush abandoned even that pretense.

  27. This post has been deleted by its author

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are you a US citizen or not?

    Regarding PRISM and surveillance targeting. With so many services already hosted in the USA. Don't expect intelligence analysts to correctly decipher whether or not you are a US citizen. Its just not possible. For instance how many users of said services set their country of origin correctly instead of letting it default to the United States? Using IP is no reliable indicator because of proxies and people travelling. So some will frequently fall into the net and be mis-flagged. You'd need substantial logs to backtrack. Equally expect data quality to be awful leading to wrong hits, false positives and ample cases of mistaken identify.

    For instance there is no enforcement of usernames in Yahoo, Hotmail / Outlook or Google mail, never mind Google+ or Facebook. Regarding the later I've never used my real name and never been asked by the system for proof, no matter what their policy says. People better hope their real name and online aliases don't ever overlap with someone on a watch list though, or things could get messy!

  29. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    Flame

    Ah, the politicians...

    ..."You can't have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We're going to have to make some choices as a society," Obama said...

    Ok then. My choice is to keep my 100% privacy and zero inconvenience. Where do I vote?

  30. ceebee
    FAIL

    grrrr... it wass about TRUST!

    As a non-US citizen I am appalled that Obama and such consider it alright to breach my privacy.

    But more significantly... why would any non-US business use any US based or owned service provider , any cloud/data storage service or email service. Clearly any or all US internet services are wide open for extra legal snooping.

    It means any confidentiality clause in contracts is worthless when dealing with the US.

    It means any data transiting the US is open to NSA screening.

    Quite simply the US is an untrustworthy partner.

    And anyone who believes it is only about security and not economic espionage is naive and in any case could any business take the risk that their of their material being scooped up by an agency of a competitor's government.

    Am I angry ..yes ..not because I am surprised or because I am a likely target but because the US does not respect the privacy of anyone and most certainly not the RIGHTS of non citizens.

    I may not be American but I have rights too Mr Obama!!

  31. tom dial Silver badge
    Flame

    The Verizon (and other?) phone and PRISM programs clearly contradict the plain meaning of the fourth amendment, and if the Patriot Act authorized them, it is sad that it has not been challenged and overturned. It is sadder that a president who took an oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" authorized these programs, and that another, who took the same oath, continued and extended them. More: hundreds of our elected senators and representatives passed this atrocious act and, having heard quarterly reports for the last half-dozen years of its yield, they kept their silence almost to a person, reapproved it, and permitted it to continue.

    All of them - presidents, congressmen, senators, and the judges who issued the warrants - should be ashamed, as should the U. S. press for being scooped by the Guardian. I am sure we will see investigations and be treated to indignant speeches, apologies, and justifications from all of them. I am not prepared to believe a single word of it.

    And the People - I do not exclude myself - should be ashamed for electing them or acquiescing in their election.

  32. tom dial Silver badge
    Flame

    The Verizon (and other?) phone and PRISM programs contradict the plain meaning of the fourth amendment, and if the Patriot Act authorized them, it is sad that it has not been challenged and overturned. It is sadder that a president who took an oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" authorized it, and that another, who took the same oath continued and extended it. More: hundreds of our elected senators and representatives passed this atrocious act and, having heard quarterly reports for the last half-dozen years of its yield, they kept their silence almost to a person, reauthorized it, and permitted it to continue.

    All of them - presidents, congressmen, senators, and the judges who issued the warrants - should be ashamed, as should the U. S. press for being scooped by the Guardian. I am sure we will see investigations and be treated to indignant speeches, apologies, and justifications from all of them. I am not prepared to believe a single word of it.

    And the People - I do not exclude myself - should be ashamed for electing them or acquiescing in their election.

  33. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    ""That so many politicians have been allowed themselves to be duped by the fear of terrorists."

    There, fixed that for you.

    My jacket's the one with a copy of "Enemy of the State" in.

    The real question is:

    IRL who is the real "Thomas Bryan Reynolds" ?

  34. WatAWorld

    Translation: the deaths of 2900 Americans is too high a price to pay for freedom

    Translation: the deaths of 2900 innocent people is too high a price to pay for freedom.

    Of course the rest of the world was prepared to have 55 million die for freedom in WWII.

    That represents one 9-11 per day, seven per week, 365 per year, for 50 years and 4 months.

    55 million regrettable deaths, but a price the world was prepared to pay for freedom.

    I think that most of us, if we knew in advance that was the price of winning WWII, we go through the whole thing again, loose that same 55 million.

    (Of course if those 2900 innocent people had not been Americans the price would be acceptable to them.)

  35. WatAWorld

    Obama said we couldn't have 100% privacy, he didn't admit we have 0% privacy

    Obama said we couldn't have 100% privacy, he didn't admit he was going to give us 0% privacy.

    They're getting info on every cell phone call. They're getting access to all iCloud, Amazon, and Skydrive storage.

    0% privacy.

    I'll add, I do NOT agree with those trying to lay the blame for this solely at Obama's feet for two reasons:

    1. Surveillance under Bush may have revealed information to the intelligence community that enabled them to prevent Obama doing what he wants, in other words they might be coercing him.

    2. Heavy widespread surveillance is neither a left- nor a right-wing thing. It is not on the right-wing/left-wing axis.

    And you can see this for yourself. Communist governments, nationalist socialist governments and right-wing dictatorships all use heavy widespread surveillance.

    Deep universal surveillance is on the extremist/moderate axis.

    Extremist governments need to suppress their own populations, so they need to do surveillance on those populations.

    Extremist intelligence agencies need to prevent interference in their extreme activities from other branches of government, so successful information gathering about the foibles of powerful people in other branches of government is an essential pre-requisite for deep universal surveillance.

  36. The Indomitable Gall

    The price of freedom...

    The US seems to love the quote "eternal vigilance is the price of freedom." Seems they've proven themselves right -- they've just sold their for a bunch of eternal vigilance....

  37. knightred
    Meh

    HA! Good to know Congress can work together.

    See when I heard Obama's statement that this was something passed continuously since 2006 by the US Elected officials I thought jesus so they can work together? Good to see party lines don't matter when it's eroding privacy.

    On a note, once in a bar arguement I went to the car for my copy of the US Constitution & Bill of Rights (I ordered a box load for about 1.50 each online)... privacy is not guaranteed only the right to unwarranted searches. In my mind collecting data on any US citizen's calls the who/when/where is unwarranted searching, but privacy is simply not explicitly covered. One might suggest the Framer's failed to recognize a distinction between their private belongings and their privacy. Dunno maybe they thought a person's location and hearsay information was simply public knowledge.

    I'd like to know if we as the public in the form of the Justice System can make use of this data in tracking the location and whereabouts of any individual involved in a criminal case or suspected criminal case. Such as seeing what congressional members make use of scandalous clubs or bathrooms. ha!

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Boffin

      Re: HA! Good to know Congress can work together.

      "I'd like to know if we as the public in the form of the Justice System can make use of this data in tracking the location and whereabouts of any individual involved in a criminal case or suspected criminal case. Such as seeing what congressional members make use of scandalous clubs or bathrooms. ha!"

      Something like this hace been covered by El Reg and IIRC the Supreme Court ruled sticking a GPS tracker on a car did need a court order as your location is a private matter.

  38. Tom 7 Silver badge

    You cant have security without privacy.

    NT

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Low voter turn-out in the USA...

    Someone mentioned this above...

    Well, having three MEEEELION American citizens of voting age in prison at any point in time probably cuts a couple of percentage points off the Election Day turn-out.

    Crazy.

    It's almost 10x the incarceration rate of Canada. Seriously.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    One hundred percent security?

    'You can't have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy'

    None of this `security' will protect you from being blown-up in the street. And if the cost of security is to live in an open-air prison, I'de prefer to take my chances with the terrorists. Security is being used as a pretext to yet extend the state security apparatus *against* their own citizens. What's ironic is we have a democratic dupe removing the last vestiges of a free and democratic society.

    "The very word secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies"

  41. Nameless Faceless Computer User
    Devil

    I don't know why this is such a surprise to anyone. After 9/11 attacks, Bush introduced the Patriot act which allowed telco's and isp's to snoop our communications. Under that law, consumer notification that any type of surveillance was taking place was illegal. I wrote my representative and told Hillary Clinton that I was not crazy about this. The response was this was for our own good.

    Now this is news? It's not news. People are just starting to wake up that we gave up our right to privacy to feel good. This is the dilemma of a free society - snoop and be safe, respect privacy and bad guys go undetected.

    It has nothing to do with Obama. This is all old news.

  42. Old Handle

    Fair enough

    I'll take 97% privacy and whatever security you can give me with that.

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