In the history of mankind, many republics have risen, have flourished for a less or greater time, and then have fallen because their citizens lost the power of governing themselves and thereby of governing their state. TR


Obama Silent on Surveillance Controversy

Updated at 12:30 pm ET

President Obama said nothing Thursday as the nation was gripped by news that the National Security Agency has been tracking the telephone calls and Internet behavior of millions of Americans.

Obama, who is traveling, had ample opportunity to say something before departing the White House around midday. He made three different speeches – at an education event in North Carolina and two fundraisers in California – but never once alluded to the controversy.

Instead, he left it to a deputy press secretary to issue a carefully worded statement.

Here’s part of it:

The intelligence community is conducting court-authorized intelligence activities pursuant to a public statute with the knowledge and oversight of Congress and the intelligence community in both houses of Congress.  There is also extensive oversight by the executive branch, including the Department of Justice and relevant agency counsels and inspectors general, as well as annual and semi-annual reports to Congress as required by law . . .

My final point here:  The president welcomes a discussion of the tradeoffs between security and civil liberties.

Obama will have many opportunities to correct the situation today, starting with a speech he is delivering on Obamacare in San Jose, California at 8:50 am Pacific time.

The White House strategy with respect to the various scandals Obama is facing has consistently been to portray the president as an almost disinterested observer who gets his information on the news like everyone else. But with even allies turning on his over these latest revelations, Obama likely will need a more direct response that explains his views on the matter and acknowledged his responsibility.

UPDATE: Obama finally addressed the issue Friday in San Jose, California, defending the surveillance as necessary and noting it is subject to oversight by both Congress and the judiciary.

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257 thoughts on “Obama Silent on Surveillance Controversy”

      1. His early political mantra: “Present”.

        Today’s Obama motto: “I’m out of here!”

        When fans complimented Obama’s detachment, they likely weren’t considering that he would detach himself from nearly any accountability (except when he could be described as having a spine of steel, even when those facts seem to show otherwise).

  1. Just another thing he’ll blame on Bush. Only I do believe when all the facts come out, Bush never pushed for an all out blanket surveillance covering both IN and OUT of the country.
    But in the end it all goes back to the Patriot Act and passing legislation in knee jerk fashion following tragedy.
    As for Bush or Obama I’ll take neither and look back to Franklin:
    “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”
    Yes, the “times” have changed since those so wise words were spoken so many years ago, but the principle behind them is timeless.

    1. Sorry, but Bush in fact did push for total surveilance and the program was called “Total Information Awareness”. We thought though that the idea had been killed. Apparently not.

  2. “Obama likely will need a more direct response that explains his views on the matter and acknowledged his responsibility.”

    I’m not going to hold my breath.

  3. “extensive oversight”. I bet there is.

    If this information is being shared with government agencies, including the DOJ, then what was the comedy about getting a search warrant for the phone records of the AP offices and JamesRosen? According to the statement issued by the WhiteHouse, the DOJ already had all the records available without a warrant.

    The Senators and elected officials who want us to believe that this is no big deal and it’s for the greater good have abandoned their responsiblities of defending the constitution.
    The potential for mischief and violation of privacy rights are tremendously apparent; a disgruntled or criminal minded employee with access to private communications could use this information as blackmail against someone, or expose private secret contacts in legal disputes.

    1. If this information is being shared with government agencies, including the DOJ, then what was the comedy about getting a search warrant for the phone records of the AP offices and JamesRosen? According to the statement issued by the WhiteHouse, the DOJ already had all the records available without a warrant.


      Good question.

      1. But the did. The Russian government warned the Obama administration about them long before the bombing, yet they chose to ignore it.

    2. Eric Holder was asked yesterday (under oath) if the regime has been monitoring the phone calls of Congress members. He refused to answer the question definitively. Those Senators and elected officials who are defending this practice of spying on Americans are either power hungry statists, or this regime has the goods on them. I’m thinking it’s a combination of both. Just remember the names of everyone of our elected officials who are condoning this practice come election time. Lyndsey Graham is up for re-election in 2014 and he needs to be retired by the good people of South Carolina.

      1. Susan, what he failed to say was all that was needed to show they have indeed monitored congressional phone conversations, at least those of Republicans. His lame statement that he would address the question in a different forum says clearly that monitoring has taken place, otherwise it would have been an emphatic NO.

    3. That is what O’Reilly said, SrDem–what if some congressman called “Trixie” at the “Hot Lips Massage Parlor”–Bill has a way with hypotheticals.

    4. The comedy was to threaten the media, let them know if you cross us, we’ll take you down…it was only used as a threat to let them know they had better not do any stories against the Obama admin…..we don’t have to have IRS investigations either, because we have all the phone calls and emails of the IRS and all the home emails and phone calls of the IRS agents and workers and all we need to do is go through them and we’ll have every question answered within hours….no need for this 3 ring circus of I know nothing, I see nothing, I take the 5th!

      1. Excellent point! Which comes to the REAL use of this surveillance; which is to serve Obama, not solve any threats to the citizens. The government already has the capability of mining and finding the truth regarding IRS, Benghazi, Boston Marathon, Fast and Furious, etc. And yet government officials on up to and including Obama answer “I don’t know.” Billions and billions have been quietly spent on surveillance over the last few years when our country is broke and it still doesn’t help us.

  4. Well, I guess he is still silent because someone smart first has to write down some carefully worded lies for him to read from the Teleprompter. He will have “many opportunities to correct the situation ” ? But the damage is already done and the scandal is out ? How “correct” it ????
    Those of us who felt that Barry was a creepy guy right from the beginning were not such crazy conspiracy-lunatics and racists after all. Now, I hope those hidden records will be dug up as well.

  5. Scene at WH before Obama departure for west coast

    BO: Valerie, should I say something about the surveillance issue?
    V: No, just keep quiet. Smile and change the subject
    BO: (shuffles feet) Well, I still wanna say something…Presidential
    V: BARACK! As I SAID, SMILE…..jut out your jaw too.
    BO: OK……do you want me to bring you back anything from the trip?
    V: Yes…MONEY!……Now go get on the helicopter…..and don’t forget your teddy bear!

      1. “Reggie Love is Obama’s teddy bear.” – MI

        Although Jay-Z has a coke-filled one he shares with Barry on special occasions…

        He got it for getting his stash into the country, back before Obama became President. Now, its more for the sentimental value. These days, who would DARE question the Emperor’s official troubador?

  6. Is anyone worried about a “secret court” making “secret rulings” that our elected representatives are “legally obligated” to keep secret from us? Or have I been reading too many novels about Europe in the 30’s when Germany had a representative government?

    1. No doc, I’m not worried at all. I absolutely trust Obama and our beloved government to do everything possible in the most benevolent manner possible to keep my checks coming, my phone active, and my internet on.
      Obama is the greatest President ever. He is cool, he is smart, he is hip, he is all things to all subjects.
      He IS our most gracious Dear Leader and he IS great and good.
      (Note to my estate attorney: When such time occurs that this nation finally pulls it’s head out of its a$$ please ensure that my relatives know that the above was not written of my own free will but was written during the dark times when oppression and payback were the norm and freedom and the Constitution were ignored.)

    2. Yes, many of us have been worried about it for a long time. We have been screaming about it for years. Unlike many commenters on here, we didn’t wait for it to be a Democratic president to be up in arms about it.

    3. You do realize they have been doing this forms long time. I am glad you finally woke up, too bad you will go back to sleep if a Republican is elected.

          1. Who is ‘we’? I am not a collective, I have never been a masochist, and I do not personally feel guilty of or for something in connection to the scandals going on.

  7. ” They’ll warn that tyranny always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices”.

    – U.S. President Barack Obama gives the commencement address to the graduating class of The Ohio State University at Ohio Stadium on May 5, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio.

        1. Speaking of–despite the use of mundane profanity on here occasionally bringing down the tone, I think this site might be considered high info voters–so it is probably surveilled.

  8. They’re tracking our cell phones, land-lines, Internet usage and credit card purchases. It seems as if the only safe way to communicate is through the mail.

          1. Mine come open; I guess organic bird food is dangerous. I called UPS and they said it’s legal to open up packages. I guess it’s legal to leave them open too! I complained about how late they were arriving to my mail box and they said it was because of all the new security. I asked if they ever found any scary packages and they said “Not really.” No wonder the post office is going broke. Pigeons anyone?

    1. everybody I know is buying throw away phones now…use them, no tracking, and you can say what you want and use it up and throw it away! Funny the terrorists will be using their smart phones with no worry that the govt is watching them, and the Americans will be using throw away phones and meeting at the park to pass notes…..only a year ago Glenn Beck was telling us this was happening and the NSA whistleblowers he had on his show were deemed incompetent..eventhough they had decades in the NSA as high top ranking officials…until they blew the whitle that is…then they were arrested in their homes by guns and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the Obama law..which could be anything! Death by drive by drone!

  9. Obama knows he’s guilty and afraid of impeachment – I’m sure the truth will come out and hopefully he will be gone. A disgrace in the history books…

  10. If everyone would agree with Chairman Obama there would be no need for any of this. The spying was only on the dissidents. Turn your heart to Obama and you will be left alone. Forward means to agree. Choose happiness over questions.

  11. Unfrikinbelievable!!

    Welcome to Stalingrad comrades. the entire US gov has abandoned every piece of the constitution and bill of rights.

    The tree of liberty is getting mighty thirsty

    1. “The tree of liberty is getting mighty thirsty” – mike

      But the “patriots” responsible for watering it are all tied up in tax court…

      Darn it, typed that word…guess I need to get my documents in order…

      As do YOU, mike…

    2. Talk about late to the party. Of course we were called traiters and unpatriotic when we criticized the republican surveillance machine. Too bad you didn’t help fight it back then, we might not be in the mess we’re in now.

      1. Stop it. This isn’t a Republican vs Democrat issue…it’s an American issue. Let’s stop living in the past and work to make a better future for all of us and our progeny. Defeat tyranny at the ballot box and return to constitutional values and principles.

  12. Sensenbrenner calls it a dragnet and an overreach and will be investigating what is going on. That’s a start.

    Barack Obama is out of control.

    And the Boston bombers–slipped through the cracks.

  13. Obama is wearing out AF1 attending fundraisers. You would think that the economy is humming along instead the Unemployment rate just went up again. Worst president in US History without a doubt.

  14. “If someone wants to know why their own government has decided to go on a fishing expedition through every personal record or private document — through library books they’ve read and phone calls they’ve made — this legislation gives people no rights to appeal the need for such a search in a court of law. No judge will hear their plea, no jury will hear their case. This is just plain wrong.” -Barak Obama, 2005

      1. Where were we? Try to remember. That was when the republicans were “eating each other”. It’s very convenient to forget that most conservatives hated the Bushes, but you were too busy gloating to notice.

  15. But Obama didn’t know. He knows nothing, except of course what he does know and hides from under his desk. MR TRANSPARENT!!!!!!

  16. America knows osama obama, the Marxist, muslim, lying sack of $h!t in the occupy White House movement is at the center of Fast & Furious, IRS, Benghazi, AP, Fox, Verizon, etc. scandals as well as those yet to be discovered; but he was very careful as not to leave a crumb trail to the oval office. Congress will have to look very closely and hopefully find a brave American who will “remember” and tell the truth.

    1. Wouldn’t hold my breath. Republicans have zero backbone.
      Don’t forget “Dear Leader” found out about these things when he read about them in the newspaper.

  17. “The intelligence community is conducting court-authorized intelligence activities pursuant to a public statute” After judge shopping?

    “There is also extensive oversight by the executive branch, including the Department of Justice and relevant agency counsels and inspectors general” Extensive oversight as practiced by Hillary or Eric Holder? How can the executive branch ( Obama ) and the “Justice” Department have oversight when no one knows what is going on in their departments?

    “My final point here: The president welcomes a discussion of the tradeoffs between security and civil liberties.” Yep, I’ll discuss it with you, and even look forward to it, however know that these discussions will change nothing, it will be nice talking to you, but eventually you all will have to bend to my will.

  18. Are we honestly supposed to take comfort in the fact that the executive branch including the DOJ is overseeing this? Are you kidding me?
    Eric Holder is saying he lied to the Judge when he called Rosen a co-conspirator and a high flight risk so that he could secretly get his records. Why would he treat any of this data any different? And the IRS has shown this Government under Obama’s watch more than willing to harass people who oppose the President or his views. Now anyone; a congressman, a private citizen, or a Supreme Court Judge can be threatened with this stuff? How can we be expected to trust a President who just promoted a woman to head the NSA that lied to us for days?

    And finally, it would be something to trade our civil liberties for security if we were secure but Obama and PRISM has not kept us safe. They didn’t stop the Boston bombers, they didn’t stop the guy who failed in Time Square, they didn’t stop Hasan at Ft Hood, and they didn’t stop the underwear bomber. We are not secure so the debate is over and we will take our civil liberties back thank you very much.

      1. You are right. That is an excellent comment by magicbeans. Let’s hope he is a giant slayer because we could use one right now.

  19. Is that the same ‘extensive oversight’ that was provided regarding the IRS? Fool with once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

  20. I wouldn’t be surprised if the members of the various Tea Party groups whose charitable statuses were delayed by the IRS were singled out and tracked by the NSA.

  21. They will continue to blame this on the Bush Administration even though they had two years with control of the house and senate and chose not to repeal the act, but rather to expand it. This can not be refuted.

  22. Obama’s silence on this liberty-killing surveillance adventure of his own administration is right in line with his quirky votes of “Present” back in the Illinois legislature. He has been trained to be disengaged from the game, to walk away from what could pinned on him. When the cranky and very strange Valerie Jarrett is your go-to “what should I do now” person, you are lost in the ozone.

  23. Every statist government that ever existed, spied on it’s own people. When you run a obtrusive,nanny state government, you have to be able to turn the screws on the population to keep them in line. I wonder if “Dear Leader” had something on Chief Justice Roberts to make him trample the constitution.

  24. Obama and his ‘People’ are all over this…They know exactly what and is happening like a ‘Spirochete’ in a Strumpets Muffin !

  25. Ohhhhhhh…..that is not what Obama said in 2005when he was running for Senate and again in 2008 when he was running for President.

    1. And you weren’t complaining about in 2005 when it was the Republicans doing it, so what is your point except both you and Obama are partisan hypocrites.

      1. Not the same thing…I suggest you read up on the expansion of the program and the inherent differences. Give it a whirl before you post again.

  26. Pingback: Obama Sotereo: Now This Is What I Call "LEADERSHIP" - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum

  27. Two points. One, if Obama has done away with the threat of terrorism, why the need for such expanded surveillance. Two, because we now now that the IRS has been targeting people and groups for political reasons, it is a logical progression of thought that the NSA is now doing the same thing. They want to read my e-mails not because they think in a million years that I am a terrorist but because they know I am not a Democrat and am opposed to Obama’s extreme left agenda.

  28. A trade-off of Rights granted by the USA Bill of Rights is treason against the traditions and founding principles of the USA Government. The Bill of Rights were written by God and are not up for a trade-off!

    1. According to Sherman, George Washington had his visions where
      spirits came to him and spoke about the future of your Great Nation. Documents of this recording exist in the US Library of Congress.

    1. Mandy,

      It is a poorly veiled attempt to depict blacks as lazy. While trying to wax poetically, Bell is inferring that blacks are inherently lazy, and therefore Obama, by virtue of his being “black” is lazy. It is an example of the most insidious form of racism there is, taking on a subtleness of form and fashion all the while promoting the thinking of less enlightened humans.

      Truth is, it would matter not what color Obama and his minions are, it is what lies in their hearts that is the danger. What lies in their hearts to me is obvious. The hammer and sickle, and the star and crescent.

  29. NOW is the time for Constitutional conservatives in both parties (I do believe they exist within the Democratic Party) to call for a no confidence vote on the leadership of Reid and Boehner and remove both men from their respective positions. Then vote in leaders that have the will and courage to actually uphold the Constitution, and begin the serious work of bringing the Obama administration into line with the power of the purse and the subpoena.

    Any member of the administration that is caught lying needs to face immediate contempt and criminal charges. Organizations such as WaPo, NYT, WSJ, CSM, Chicago Trib., along with the varied broadcast outlets need to be brought before the House to testify as to why they have hidden facts they have known about the misdoings of this WH, and answer on the record what they have known about the administration for the past five years. If Holder can consider Rosen a co-conspirator, then the House should be able to consider other MSM outlets as co-conspirators with the WH and all of its misdeeds.

    Put on the public record all that can be found regarding any and all scandals, and hopefully then some young Woodward and Bernstein will raise their heads and go for a Pulitzer and the WH’s jugular.

    1. Shofar, we only have a handful of good people in the Congress. The Bill of Rights should be the umbrella issue of 2014 which, btw, feels so far off.

      I’ve often thought that we Constitutionalists of the right need to work with those on the opposite side. That appeals to me more than conservatives always ending up in a mixed marriage with the RINOs, we being the battered partner.

  30. P. Obama has demonstrated again and again that he has no respect for Americans and their institutions. Time to throw the bum out!!!

  31. Imagine how nice it would be if he just kept his mouth shut on every issue. I am sick and frigging tired of looking at his butt ugly mug and hearing his whining sissy voice.

  32. This is exactly what happens when the government gets to big to control and politicians on both sides of the fence pander for votes to stay in office. Just a start at fixing all this would be a Flat Tax or Fair Tax and Term Limits for all elected officials. Right now they are so old they die in office.

    1. That would have to be a Constitutional Amendment which I think Americans would broadly support. The problem is that it would have to originate in the Congress and that ain’t ever going to happen.

  33. The worst of it is, while he was here in my homestate of NC, he got on his soapbox and said we need more highspeed internet for the children. More sheeple to spy on I guess.

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