Snowden forces Obama's hand on surveillance program, Patriot whistleblower or criminal?, New reforms of government programs, Russian asylum prompted Obama to cancel planned meeting

Snowden forces Obama’s hand on surveillance program, Patriot whistleblower or criminal?, New reforms of government programs, Russian asylum prompted Obama to cancel planned meeting

“The US government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me,”…Edward Snowden

“Snowden has shared encoded copies of all the documents he took so that they won’t disappear if he does, Glenn Greenwald tells Eli Lake.”… The Daily Beast June 25, 2013


“A Party member lives from birth to death under the eye of the Thought Police. Even when he is alone he can never be sure that he is alone. Wherever he may be, asleep or awake, working or resting, in his bath or in bed, he can be inspected without warning and without knowing that he is being inspected. Nothing that he does is indifferent.”…George Orwell, “1984″


Edward Snowden.

Patriot, whistleblower or criminal?

Too early to tell.

From NBC News August 9, 2013.

“Snowden revelations force Obama’s hand on surveillance program”

“NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s revelations have forced President Barack Obama’s hand, leading the president to announce new reforms of the government’s classified surveillance programs.

After his administration issued repeated defenses of a National Security Agency monitoring program that collects Americans’ phone and Internet data, Obama announced during a press conference Friday afternoon that reforms to the system will make the collection activities more transparent and “give the American people additional confidence that there are additional safeguards against abuse.”

Obama said the changes will include changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court system — which currently greenlights requests for data gathering —  as well as the creation of both an internal NSA position devoted to privacy and an external working group to evaluate transparency in the program.  Officials will also launch a new website next week that will serve as “a hub for further transparency” for interested members of the public.

“Given the history of abuse by governments, it’s right to ask questions about surveillance by governments, particularly as technology is reshaping every aspects of our lives,” he said.

Obama’s announcement comes even as Snowden — the defense-contractor-turned-fugitive who released information to reporters about the NSA’s monitoring programs — has been charged with theft of government property and two offenses under U.S. espionage law.

He continues to evade extradition to the United States under a temporary asylum granted by the Russian government  – an agreement that prompted Obama to cancel a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in protest.

Snowden has generated strong feelings in the wake of disclosures, with many lawmakers decrying him as treasonous for releasing the information while others have used the case to press their concerns about how the government is watching American citizens.

Obama bluntly rejected the idea Friday that Snowden’s actions were patriotic.

“No, I don’t think Mr. Snowden is a patriot,” he said, adding that he would have preferred a “lawful, orderly” debate over privacy concerns rather than finger-pointing in the wake of the leaks.

But while the president has declined in the past to say whether he considers Snowden a “whistleblower” as supporters of the alleged leaker claim, Snowden’s actions were at the very least a catalyst for the coming reforms, which he says will establish additional layers of oversight to reign in possible abuses of the NSA practices.”

“”The fact that I said that the programs are operating in a way that prevents abuse — that continues to be true without the reforms,” he said. “The question is ‘how do I make the American people more comfortable?'”

And, at the moment, polling shows that’s not the case.

A NBC/WSJ poll last month showed that 56 percent of Americans say they’re worried the United States will go too far in violating privacy rights. That’s a dramatic shift from the national environment after the 9/11 terror attacks, when 55 percent of Americans said they worried that the United States would not go far enough in monitoring potential terrorists who live in the United States.”

Read more:

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