President Obama held a news conference today. That fact is now particularly newsworthy, but the first item on his agenda was.
Thanks to Edward Snowden, Americans know that their personal data is sucked up into the maw of the surveillance state. Obama huffed and puffed and tried to blow the house down but Vladimir Putin gave Snowden temporary asylum in Russia and the big bad wolf went home empty handed.
So today the president announced a task force and a web site and an ombudsman and a transparent thingamajig to "restore confidence" in the government's ability to spy on millions of people here and around the world. The question is why. After first going on Jay Leno's show to yuck it up a bit before telling us we shouldn't worry our pretty little heads about this, he now gives a performance of charades. Of course Snowden's name came up and the slippery politician tried to have it both ways.
"And there's no doubt that Mr. Snowden's leaks triggered a much more rapid and passionate response than would have been the case if I had simply appointed this review board to go through -- and I'd sat down with Congress and we had worked this thing through -- it would have been less exciting and it would not have generated as much press -- I actually think we would have gotten to the same place, and we would have done so without putting at risk our national security and some very vital ways that we are able to get intelligence that we need to secure the country."
Less exciting? How about never would have happened? How about senators Wyden and Udall being stone walled at every turn when they asked questions about the NSA and the FISA court?
Well anyway, he was forced to answer not only to millions of Americans but to foreign governments who now know that they were being spied on too. I can't say it enough. Edward Snowden is one of my favorite people. He did the right thing, he screwed our government, and then he got away. Obama and his crew are left sputtering and hoping Leno helps them out. How perfect is that?