In January 2014, during the scandalous aftermath of Edward Snowden’s NSA snooping revelations, one which revealed the US had been spying on its closest allies for years, Obama banned U.S. eavesdropping on leaders of close friends and allies and promised he would begin reining in the vast collection of Americans’ phone data in a series of limited reforms.
Below are the key highlights from his January 17, 2014 speech:
Our capabilities help protect not only our nation, but our friends and our allies, as well. But our efforts will only be effective if ordinary citizens in other countries have confidence that the United States respects their privacy, too. And 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. In other words, just as we balance security and privacy at home, our global leadership demands that we balance our security requirements against our need to maintain the trust and cooperation among people and leaders around the world.
The bottom line is that people around the world, regardless of their nationality, should know that the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don’t threaten our national security, and that we take their privacy concerns into account in our policies and procedures. This applies to foreign leaders as well.
The president lied, and the privacy concerns of “people around the world” have clearly never once been taken into account in Obama’s policies and procedures.
Just three days prior, on January 14 2014, Vermont Senator and current Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders had written an email to then NSA Chief Keith Alexander asking if the NSA has or is currently spying “on members of Congress or other American elected officials.” The letter went on to define spying as including “gathering metadata on calls made from official or personal phones, content from websites visited or emails sent, or collecting any other data from a third party not made available to the general public in the regular course of business.”
The response: the National Security Agency’s director, responding to questions from independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, says the government is not spying on Congress…. “Nothing NSA does can fairly be characterized as ‘spying on members of Congress or other American elected officials.” Alexander wrote in the letter, dated Friday and released Tuesday.
The former NSA head also lied.
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