back to article Obama reveals tiny NSA reforms ... aka reforming your view of the NSA

President Obama has today outlined his plans to tweak the rules under which US intelligence services monitor their own population and citizens of countries around the world. Obama outlines NSA reforms Trust us, we're Americans "As the nation that developed the Internet, the world expects us to ensure that the digital …

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  1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    WTF?

    "Having faced down the totalitarian dangers of fascism and communism"

    WTF is he talking about?

    1. Captain Save-a-ho
      Coat

      Re: "Having faced down the totalitarian dangers of fascism and communism"

      Obviously, in Obamaspeak, this can only refer to the so-called Tea Party. Or Grover Norquist. Or both.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: "Having faced down the totalitarian dangers of fascism and communism"

        If it weren't for the involvement of the US in WW II, most of Europe might be speaking German today, so fair to see the US helped face down fascism in the form of Nazi Germany.

        The US also faced down communism to the point where there's no longer a USSR. Well, if you overlook the fact that highly ranked KGB spy is now Russia's defacto dictator....does converting the most powerful communist country into the most powerful fascist country count as a win, a loss or a tie?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: "Having faced down the totalitarian dangers of fascism and communism"

          If it weren't for the involvement of the USSR in WW II, most of Europe might be speaking German today,

          1. Blitterbug
            Facepalm

            Re: most of Europe might be speaking German today...

            Wow. You really seem to believe that, too.

        2. Adam 1 Silver badge

          Re: "Having faced down the totalitarian dangers of fascism and communism"

          > If it weren't for the involvement of the US in WW II, most of Europe might be speaking German today

          Good Lord. I don't wish to downplay the significant role that the US had in both Europe and Pacific both directly and indirectly, but you do owe it to yourself to actually read something on the matter rather than assuming saving Ryan's privates is all there was.

          The eastern front and particularly Stalingrad was much more strategically significant than DDay and the allies were helped by Hitler's military stupidity going for the symbolic battles against Moscow and Stalingrad rather than locking up the oilfields and building massive battleships rather than the uboats that were crippling British supply lines.

          Not to mention the Italians cocking up in Greece and Africa and needing to be rescued by Germany.

          The US did help prevent western Europe having a new language but that language was Russian.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Having faced down the totalitarian dangers of fascism and communism"

            perhaps the start of the end of the war was the battle of Britain, Germany was stuffed after that.

            1. Tom 7 Silver badge

              Re: "Having faced down the totalitarian dangers of fascism and communism"

              @AC 18th 7:57 That and invading Russia.

              If the US hadn't been attacked by Japan and thus been forced into the war then the Russians would have finished the Germans off and may well have invaded the rest of Europe and as a result communism would have collapsed at lot sooner than it did.

              There's a lot to be said for not giving stupidity something to unite and fight against - we've got two political parties in the UK arguing over who's best to fight those 12 Romanians that have legally come in and destroyed the economy since the start of the year.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Having faced down the totalitarian dangers of fascism and communism"

            "saving Ryan's privates"

            The film is called Shaving Ryan's Privates, and is one of the most accurate depictions of the second world war to come out of the US.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Having faced down the totalitarian dangers of fascism and communism"

          What an F'ing obvious clown actor agent of the TPTB; I'm already bored of its deceptions; its mannerism are fake, they were apparently copied from the real mannerisms of a professional entertainment actor, who is not at all happy about this.

          What happened is the TPTB realised that a full frontal approach had become boring, so covertly merged the Facists and Communists into the system, to cause less visible internal havoc.

          You do realise that the Facists and Communists were the invention of factions of the TPTB, to put up the facade of opposing ideologies, to distract people from the far worse creeping Fabian evil going on; as far as I can tell, both the Jesuits and Illuminati (opponents) were/are inventions of factions of the TPTB. This Onion has many layers and is really just about money and power for the thousands of years old Usury scam by the evil 'money' lenders.

          1. Scorchio!!

            Re: "Having faced down the totalitarian dangers of fascism and communism"

            What are you smoking? Remind me to avoid it.

            At any given time the 'communists' of the USSR had some 11 million people in Siberian penal labour battalions. That's how Stalin financed his 'revolution' and kept the rest of the proletariat in check. As for the Fascists - do note the correct spelling, please - if you are ignorant of those facts, well heaven help us. Perhaps, as someone else snarkily observed, it's to do with the age of the average age of readers of The Register. Fascism and Nazism were spread like a rash across the European continent, even the Hispanic peninsula, and threatened to take over the world. They were every bit as bad as the 'Communists', and every bit as real.

            Otherwise what a cliché ridden post.

            1. Andy J

              Re: "Having faced down the totalitarian dangers of fascism and communism"

              That's the Iberian peninsula; I don't think that modern day Portugese would be overly happy being called Hispanic, even though their nation was once part of the Roman territory of Hispania.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Happy

                Re: "Having faced down the totalitarian dangers of fascism and communism"

                " I don't think that modern day Portugese would be overly happy being called Hispanic"

                Not because we would feel insulted but because it would be a sign of ignorance from the person who was saying it, and we love(not) ignorants :)

                But we do feel insulted when foreigners insist talking in spanish with us (especially the spanish people, the fact that we kick their arses many times in history don't help I guess eheheh). At least, unlike most of the Americans who visit Europe and intoduce themselves as Canadians, we don't go abroad and say that we are spanish :-P

        4. Oh Homer Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: "If it weren't for the involvement of the US"

          Supplanting one tyrannical empire with another, was probably not the ideal outcome we had in mind.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Having faced down the totalitarian dangers of fascism and communism"

          > If it weren't for the involvement of the US in WW II, most of Europe might be speaking German today,

          Errm... Are you aware that German is the most widely spoken native language in Europe? :-)

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Having faced down the totalitarian dangers of fascism and communism"

          At least Vlad the Putin is competent.

        7. Stephen Gray

          Re: "Having faced down the totalitarian dangers of fascism and communism"

          LOL! Funniest post. Ever. What a twat.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Having faced down the totalitarian dangers of fascism and communism"

      >WTF is he talking about?

      He's talking about the bad old days, long ago in the mist, long before the average Reg reader was born, the days when massive Soviet armies were to be found on the other side of the 'iron curtain' (that's a reference to a Winston Churchill speech that your great grandfather may have heard), the days when we were frequently close to war. The Cuba missile crisis is a good example of the last point. The dangers of fascism were what preceded the days of communism, jinkies this is exciting isn't it? We could go back to the first world war and its role in the genesis of the second, and the role of that in creating the dangers of communism. As we do it we could explain our failure to return to the Arabs their land, which in turn created the dangers of Islamic totalitarianism! Golleeeeeeeee!

      Why don't you pick up a history book and read about these times? They're much better for you than the pap spouted by dullards like a white haired man in Kensington spitting implausible 'autobiographical' stories.

    3. Amorous Cowherder
      Boffin

      Re: "Having faced down the totalitarian dangers of fascism and communism"

      "As the nation that developed the Internet..."...the US government intends to reclaim it.

  2. Irony Deficient

    “Having faced down the totalitarian dangers of fascism and communism”

    John Smith 19, my guess is that the “us” in that sentence refers to the US in general, and that that introductory clause refers to the half century or so of various US actions in hot and cold wars beginning with Lend-Lease in March 1941.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too little, too late. The rest of the world can't trust anything the US says now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And it's the usual "we will abide with our own narrow interpretation of the law, that enables us to keep on doing exactly what we want".

      Curiously this just brings the Americans in line with the British government position that the peasants have no rights. Don't forget Magna Carta was when the barons held the king to account, not the people.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      thank goodness for the whistleblowers

      Well clearly it is now recognised by everyone that things are seriously wrong, and things are changing to some extent, the president is saying so himself. So a big thanks to the whistleblowers from Abama is due, because we all know nothing would be happening without them.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: "Too little, too late. The rest of the world can't trust anything the US says now."

      Nor should they!

  4. Forget It
    Meh

    Yes we CAAAAAAAN! - ooops No we Can't.

  5. Tikimon Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Missing the bloody obvious...

    "The leaders of our close friends and allies deserve to know that if I want to know what they think about an issue, I’ll pick up the phone and call them, rather than turning to surveillance"

    Did he miss the part where the phone call IS surveillance by the NSA? Does the Big-O think it's an automatic-meeting-minutes feature? BWAHAHAHA!!!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wonder what candidate Obama would have to say about today's bullcrap?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BmdovYztH8

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE:Wonder what candidate Obama would have to say about today's bullcrap?

      Well, you see, there is no such thing as a "high road to geometry" until you discover that you must study it peronsally.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you're not a terrorist, you have nothing to worry about

    Define "terrorist" (preferably in a manner that doesn't change at the Government's whim).

    Anonymous, for what it's worth....

    1. Remy Redert

      Re: If you're not a terrorist, you have nothing to worry about

      Oh. That one is easy. Terrorist and terrorism come from the word terror, about which the dictionary says the following:

      1. intense, sharp, overmastering fear: to be frantic with terror.

      2. an instance or cause of intense fear or anxiety; quality of causing terror: to be a terror to evildoers.

      3. any period of frightful violence or bloodshed likened to the Reign of Terror in France.

      4. violence or threats of violence used for intimidation or coercion; terrorism.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: If you're not a terrorist, you have nothing to worry about

        5. Person who unrolls a banner lettered with glitter outside an Oil company

        1. Adam 1 Silver badge

          Re: If you're not a terrorist, you have nothing to worry about

          To be fair, glitter can be really annoying to get off.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Joke

            Re: If you're not a terrorist, you have nothing to worry about

            You're right, it scratches like the devil...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you're not a terrorist, you have nothing to worry about

      To right, one person's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you're not a terrorist, you have nothing to worry about

      You may think you're anonymous, but 'they' know who you are, and where you live, and who you fancy and what colour your pee is.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    My middle...

    finger to you sir...

    "As for the rest of the world Obama said that ordinary citizens (and their leaders) should not be worried that the US is spying on their communications"

  9. Mark 85 Silver badge

    So basically nothing will change as far as who gets "surveillanced"???? Kind of figures when looks at what our governments (and that's all governments, not just the USA) have been doing to citizen rights and privacy rights since the beginning of time.

  10. Eguro
    Black Helicopters

    About National Security Letters: "Obama said that these would no longer be open-ended gagging orders and companies would be able to disclose their use after a limited time – unless there's a real government need for secrecy."

    Does that last sentence imply that these letters are currently not - at least not always - used for a real need? Because that's somewhat a confirmation of current suspicions, right?

    As far as the spying only being done for counter-terrorism etc. that could be/is code for anything that hurts US interests which also include the success of foreign businesses - ergo economic espionage is likely to continue... Provided it was ever going on of course, which of course it wasn't! I certainly wouldn't say something like that at least!

    (I somehow feel that the black helicopter logo should be changed to some picture version of "Told ya so")

  11. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    From the article: <<the government will appoint a panel of non-government "advocates">>

    Anyone cares to explain how it will work exactly?

    1. silent_count

      A few of Pres. Obama's drinking buddies will sleep off their hangovers in the back of the foreign intelligence courts before reporting back to Obama that everything is being done by the book.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Anyone cares to explain how it will work exactly?

      You don't need to know, Citizen.

      Carry on with your life and Trust Your Government.

      Move along, now, move along.

  12. David 45

    First-rate cattle excrement

    "Well folks - we gotta appease the people somehow. This oughta do it".

    Hmm. Us Brits can recognise b*llsh*t when we see it and I've just seen a pile to beat them all. Cosmetic posturing only I reckon. It's obvious that nothing will really change. Abuses WILL continue and nothing will be safe on line. Just who does Obama think he's kidding?

  13. Mephistro Silver badge
    Facepalm

    This speech is just a ton of whitewashed BS for the dumb masses

    The really important speech will come in a few years, when most of American IT companies have sunk under the waves taking along most of the American economy, but said speech will come too late.

    And thumbs up++ for the article, Mr. Thomson. A nice in depth analysis as we won't find in most mass media.

  14. Adam Foxton

    handed off to an unnamed third party for storage

    This third party has already been determined... It's the

    NonGovernmental

    Storage

    Agency

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: handed off to an unnamed third party for storage

      How is an unnamed third party supposed to sound good? Who is left thinking obama is any better than bush was? At least bush did it because he was an idiot. Obama does these things on purpose.

  15. NotMyRealName

    Prez annonces

    I see what you did there....

  16. Julian Bond

    Why is he standing in front of a bunch of giant novelty ties from Disneyland?

  17. xyz

    In a nutshell

    you are all free and if you think you're not...we're watching.

  18. Syntax Error

    I wonder when the UK is going to have its political debate about GCHQ? Anyone written to their MP?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Fourth Amendment says...

    ...The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    This is as plain as day. It says the the NSA is nothing but one huge violation of the Constitution of the United States. Of what use is a secret court that cannot be brought to account for its decisions vis a vis the Fourth Amendment? I say that the FISA courts are merely a fig leaf to trick foolish people into thinking that what our government is doing to us. along with everyone else on the planet. is both legal and just. Barak Obama is no better than George Bush. How could anyone pretend that there is any real difference between these two turds? One is lighter colored than the other, but so what? They both stink!

    1. Dylan Fahey
      Thumb Up

      Re: The Fourth Amendment says...

      It's a sad (der) day in amerika, the United Corporations of Amerika (UCA), no longer the USA. The real story is the State Dept, which pushes corporate weapons contracts around the world, needs the NSA for intel. It has nothing to do with terrorists. It's all about the money.

      I'm trying to get everyone I know here to vote Independent and cut all ties to corporate money. It's the ONLY WAY we'll be free again. The gov has put the constitution into the shredder and does not care about the citizenry.

      So the NSA will read this, here's some of the code words they stupidly search for:

      Waihopai, INFOSEC, Information Security, Information Warfare, IW, IS, Priavacy, Information Terrorism, Terrorism Defensive Information, Defense Information Warfare, Offensive Information, Offensive Information Warfare, National Information Infrastructure, InfoSec, Reno, Compsec, Computer Terrorism, Firewalls, Secure Internet Connections, ISS, Passwords, DefCon V, Hackers, Encryption, Espionage, USDOJ, NSA, CIA, S/Key, SSL, FBI, Secert Service, USSS, Defcon, Military, White House, Undercover, NCCS, Mayfly, PGP, PEM, RSA, Perl-RSA, MSNBC, bet, AOL, AOL TOS, CIS, CBOT, AIMSX, STARLAN, 3B2, BITNET, COSMOS, DATTA, E911, FCIC, HTCIA, IACIS, UT/RUS, JANET, JICC, ReMOB, LEETAC, UTU, VNET, BRLO, BZ, CANSLO, CBNRC, CIDA, JAVA, Active X, Compsec 97, LLC, DERA, Mavricks, Meta-hackers, ^?, Steve Case, Tools, Telex, Military Intelligence, Scully, Flame, Infowar, Bubba, Freeh, Archives, Sundevil, jack, Investigation, ISACA, NCSA, spook words, Verisign, Secure, ASIO, Lebed, ICE, NRO, Lexis-Nexis, NSCT, SCIF, FLiR, Lacrosse, Flashbangs, HRT, DIA, USCOI, CID, BOP, FINCEN, FLETC, NIJ, ACC, AFSPC, BMDO, NAVWAN, NRL, RL, NAVWCWPNS, NSWC, USAFA, AHPCRC, ARPA, LABLINK, USACIL, USCG, NRC

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PR speak

    Not so much rearranging deck chairs, more painting the Titanic in a more eye-catching colour and rebranding icebergs.

  21. bruceld

    Yes. I completely believe and trust everything a spying agency does. We all should. They would NEVER lie to us.

  22. croc

    I think that you might've misinterpreted what 'two hops' means to the big O... As I understand it, that is 'person_of_interest ->you->someone_else, plus everyone that any of those three might have called, ever... Which is still down on the present anyone->anyone->anyone->anyone plus all associated calls made by any anyone to anyone else...

    However, as these databases are classified so high that the president is not authorized to see them (well, if I were the prez, I'd surely want to be able to say that I didn't know...), supervised by a secret court, how will we know that they are really doing what they are supposed to be doing? How reliable are the watchers' watchers, when they are also sworn to secrecy-or-death?

  23. Tom 7 Silver badge

    As the nation that developed the Internet, the world expects us to ensure that the digital

    no it fucking doesnt.

    Please butt out and prologise.

  24. MrDamage

    Dear Obama

    You can only set the rules and laws for your own country. The very second your Alphabet agencies start snooping on other countries, you are breaking their laws, not your own, and can be held accountable for those crimes..

    For the sake of world peace, and not having any more mad moozies in planes blowing up shit you old dear, stop acting like self appointed cops and start trying to get along with the world, instead of trying to get the world to dance to your tune.

    Regards,

    People of Earth.

  25. Just Another Cable Monkey

    But, but ...

    What about government agencies other than NSA? Like um, you know, DEA, FBI, DHS, IRS ... Ooh, and let's not forget the CIA.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2013/08/05/more-surveillance-abuse-exposed-special-dea-unit-is-spying-on-americans-and-covering-it-up/

    Reminds me of an old song by Chicago:

    Oh my,

    Life has passed me by.

    The country I was brought up in

    just fell apart and died.

    (or something like that)

    ...

    Oh well, maybe in my next life.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Reforming your view of the NSA

    "Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes, don't look around the eyes, look into my eyes... (snaps fingers) ...you're under!"

  27. teebie

    unless there's a real government need for secrecy.

    Or, more accurately, a claim that there's a government need for secrecy.

    Which there always will be.

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