Obama Vows to Reform How He Pretends to Reign in NSA Spying

Washington – In a speech at the Justice Department Friday, President Obama vowed to, “make significant and widespread changes to the way I pretend to reign in the spying activities of our intelligence agencies, specifically the NSA.”

Obama said he pretended to think overreach by the NSA had gone on for too long, because so many Americans actually believe it had, and that it was time to “publicly and forcefully make hollow overtures toward reforming these programs, while obviously not actually reforming anything.”

Specifically, Obama said his decision that a special court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, would have to approve the querying of phone data by NSA agents before it is allowed to proceed was a way of making believe that there would be a real check on the agency’s powers. However, the court in question overwhelmingly sides with the government and its intelligence agencies, and therefore doesn’t serve as a real safeguard against abuse.

“This court is an ideal solution, because it has the word ‘court’ in it, so people think there’s going to be some judicial body doing some kind of oversight,” Obama said. “In reality, they already have said yes to everything they will be asked to approve. It makes things much easier.”

Elsewhere, Obama vowed to pretend to take the concerns of civil libertarians and technology companies into account, tasking Congress with appointing a panel containing members of both groups to consult the FISA court. According to Obama, though, this panel won’t be more than window dressing, either.

“This panel will be picked by Congress, but I will do my best to ensure it is filled with people with vast experience in allowing the status quo to continue,” Obama said, “thereby guaranteeing nothing actually changes as a result of their consultation.”

Further limitations on the panel’s power will also be instituted.

“As a precaution,” Obama continued, “in case one of the panel members actually has some conviction, I have stipulated that the panel is only to be consulted in ‘novel’ cases. This means it will never be consulted.”

Obama concluded the speech by saying he hopes that the American people understand his commitment to acting like he’s concerned with privacy.

“I want the American people to understand one thing,” Obama said in the speech’s concluding statement. “I will never waver from, will never hesitate to pretend to be a defender of the privacy of our citizens against a powerful and gargantuan intelligence apparatus. I care deeply about appearing as if I pretend to care deeply about this issue.”

Opinion World

Al Qaeda Would Love Your E-mails to Remain Private

By Michael B. Mukasey

We’ve all heard a lot about privacy over the last several years. Since I’ve taken over as Attorney General, the question I’ve gotten more than any other is, will my privacy be sacrificed to fight the War on Terror? The short answer is, yes. And the reason is because Al Qaeda loves your privacy. They thrive on it. In fact, Osama Bin Laden and the other leaders of that fanatical terrorist group would love nothing more than for your e-mails and telephone calls to remain private. Trust me, I know. I’m the Attorney General. I’m privy to information that allows me some substantial insight into the workings of the mind of the radical jihadist. And if there’s one thing they love more than blowing themselves up, it’s Americans having their privacy.

But let’s talk about this much-vaunted “privacy.” Specifically, let’s look at privacy in relation to the emails you send and receive. So, why should your emails be read by the government? Is there a good reason? Well, let’s see. If we can’t read your e-mails, there is a very real risk that we will miss a key piece of information that could help us prevent a terrorist attack. In fact, it is quite possible, in fact probable, that if we don’t read the emails you send and receive, you will die. You will die in a fiery, horrific bombing or other attack of that sort. It will not be pretty, and it will not “feel good.” So I turn the question to you. Is there a good reason for us to read your emails? I think the answer is obvious.

And why wouldn’t you want us to read them? Why wouldn’t you want to allow the good people that work on your behalf to protect and defend you to look into the simple globs of text you send over the internet to your friends, co-workers, family and others? Are your emails so precious, after all? Are you a modern day internet Shakespeare? What, I ask you, is so very special about your emails that they should not be read by people trying to prevent this country from being attacked? Is it because you have something to hide? Something related to the War on Terror? And if so, isn’t it your responsibility to let us know about it, so we can better fight that war? Again, I think the answer is as plain as the beard on a jihadist’s face. For when you weigh the two, your precious “privacy” vs. being blown into several thousand tiny pieces by a dirty bomb, I think any reasonable person knows which one carries more weight.

Believe me, I say this for you, not for me. After all, I’ll probably be all right. In the event of an attack, I’ll likely be rushed off to some secure bunker or shelter somewhere. As I said, I’m the Attorney General. But you? I doubt your house or apartment has bomb-proof walls. I just don’t think it’s likely.