Sunday, January 19, 2014

Global Impact: President Obama Fails to Apologize for Privacy Abuses, "Economic Espionage"

According to the BBC, President Barack Obama has ordered curbs on the use of bulk data collected by US intelligence agencies, saying civil liberties must be respected.

Although the President acknowledged that several planned terrorist attacks have been neutralized at home and abroad, the Obama Administration seemingly eavesdropped on trusted allies without the benefit of an apology.
Civil liberties groups have said that whatever action the Obama Administration is taking is not enough.
The announcement follows global anger after details of the work of were leaked by the US National Security Agency (NSA) after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, 30, who is wanted in the US for intentionally released upwards of 200,000 sensitive documents and is now living in exile in Russia.

The latest revelations claim that NSA had collected upwards of 200 million email addresses and phone numbers worldwide on citizens across the globe without as much as a "by your leave."

COMMENT: An NSA program called Dishfire extracted and stored meta-data, according to THE GUARDIAN.

In President Obama's much anticipated speech at the US Department of Justice, he said he would not apologize for capturing meta-data currently collected and possessed by NSA. Yet, Obama said he was ending that system "as it currently exists."

Sadly, the President offered few details on what changes were to be made.

For non-US citizens and foreign leaders, "from now on, the US will not monitor the communications of heads of state and the governments of our closest friends and allies."

Such a statement suggests that heretofore the executive branch trampled on the privacy rights of citizens worldwide, simply because it had the technological capability to do. 

Unfortunately, President Obama cannot "un-ring" that bell that has already  placed in jeopardy whether Washington can be trusted or not.

As I have said so often in the past, "Multi-lateral relations with friends across the globe depend solely on virtues that measure whether we can be trusted or not. Thus, it is our integrity and our reputation that we speak the truth, the only virtues that we can actually take with us beyond the grave."

Even as President Obama smiled and exchanged personal accolades with loyal friends across the face of the Earth, he apparently had knowingly authorized the privileged conversations to be eavesdropped on by NSA.

Sadly, by using "counterterrorism" as a convenient tool to violate the privacy of citizens across the globe, Mr. Obama regrettably went one step further: He used the resources of the NSA to eavesdrop on America's closest friends and allies in order to engage in what can only be described as "economic espionage," an illegal activity that Washington constantly accuses other nations of, which is likened to speaking from both sides of your mouth.

Interestingly, President Obama characterizes the US as the "world's only superpower," yet how does such an ethnocentric statement translate into a respect of the history, culture, politics, economical achievements and contributions of foreign nations when the US executive branch continues to decline in its level of transparency.

"President Obama's surveillance adjustments will be remembered as music on the Titanic unless his administration adopts deeper reforms," said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA.

"Shifting the storage of information does not address the fundamental problem: the collection of mass personal data in the first place," Hawkins said in a statement.

As I have also said in the past, "How can the words of US diplomats be honored if they cannot be trusted to tell the truth and elicit candor and honesty from those with whom they work on a daily basis?"

Finally, according to Transparency International's 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), the United State has dropped to 19th place, tied with Uruguay,  in a list of 177 nations evaluated. 

It should be noted that the 2013 CPI is the lowest position the US has ever reached in terms of its level of transparency. See the below link: