Obama Uses ‘Transparent’ To Describe Secret Court, Secret Data Collection

President Obama and Korean President Park Geun-hye hold a Press Conference in Washington

Based on his use of the word throughout his candidacy for and tenure as President of the United States, it seems Barack Obama could use a refresher in the meaning of “transparent” and its various forms.

In an interview with CBS “This Morning” and PBS anchor Charlie Rose, the President spent some time fielding questions related to the National Security Agency spying scandal. Nothing the President said is particularly surprising in relation to how previous Administrations have attempted to verbally justify clandestine spying on Americans with promise of increased safety.

But prodding from Rose caused Obama to assign “transparency” to some decidedly un-transparent government policies and processes that have recently become public due to a leak.

Here’s an exchange between the President and Rose at one point in the interview, via PBS:

Barack Obama: But there is a balance, so I’m going to get to your — get to your question. The way I view it, my job is both to protect the American people and to protect the American way of life which includes our privacy. And so every program that we engage in, what I’ve said is “Let’s examine and make sure that we’re making the right tradeoffs.” Now, with respect to the NSA, a government agency that has been in the intelligence gathering business for a very long time —

Charlie Rose: Bigger and better than everybody else.

Barack Obama: Bigger and better than everybody else, and we should take pride in that because they’re extraordinary professionals; they are dedicated to keeping the American people safe. What I can say unequivocally is that if you are a U.S. person, the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls, and the NSA cannot target your emails … and have not. They cannot and have not, by law and by rule, and unless they — and usually it wouldn’t be “they,” it’d be the FBI — go to a court, and obtain a warrant, and seek probable cause, the same way it’s always been, the same way when we were growing up and we were watching movies, you want to go set up a wiretap, you got to go to a judge, show probable cause….

So point number one, if you’re a U.S. person, then NSA is not listening to your phone calls and it’s not targeting your emails unless it’s getting an individualized court order. That’s the existing rule. There are two programs that were revealed by Mr. Snowden, allegedly, since there’s a criminal investigation taking place, and they caused all the ruckus. Program number one, called the 2015 Program, what that does is it gets data from the service providers like a Verizon in bulk, and basically you have call pairs. You have my telephone number connecting with your telephone number. There are no names. There is no content in that database. All it is, is the number pairs, when those calls took place, how long they took place. So that database is sitting there. Now, if the NSA through some other sources, maybe through the FBI, maybe through a tip that went to the CIA, maybe through the NYPD. Get a number that where there’s a reasonable, articulable suspicion that this might involve foreign terrorist activity related to Al-Qaeda and some other international terrorist actors. Then, what the NSA can do is it can query that database to see — did any of the — did this number pop up? Did they make any other calls? And if they did, those calls will be spit out. A report will be produced. It will be turned over to the FBI. At no point is any content revealed because there’s no content that —

Charlie Rose: So I hear you saying, I have no problem with what NSA has been doing.

Barack Obama: Well, let me — let me finish, because I don’t. So, what happens is that the FBI — if, in fact, it now wants to get content; if, in fact, it wants to start tapping that phone — it’s got to go to the FISA court with probable cause and ask for a warrant.

Charlie Rose: But has FISA court turned down any request?

Barack Obama: The — because — the — first of all, Charlie, the number of requests are surprisingly small… number one. Number two, folks don’t go with a query unless they’ve got a pretty good suspicion.

Charlie Rose: Should this be transparent in some way?

Barack Obama: It is transparent. That’s why we set up the FISA court….The whole point of my concern, before I was president — because some people say, “Well, you know, Obama was this raving liberal before. Now he’s, you know, Dick Cheney.” Dick Cheney sometimes says, “Yeah, you know? He took it all lock, stock, and barrel.” My concern has always been not that we shouldn’t do intelligence gathering to prevent terrorism, but rather are we setting up a system of checks and balances? So, on this telephone program, you’ve got a federal court with independent federal judges overseeing the entire program. And you’ve got Congress overseeing the program, not just the intelligence committee and not just the judiciary committee — but all of Congress had available to it before the last reauthorization exactly how this program works.

Now, one last point I want to make, because what you’ll hear is people say, “Okay, we have no evidence that it has been abused so far.” And they say, “Let’s even grant that Obama’s not abusing it, that all these processes — DOJ is examining it. It’s being renewed periodically, et cetera — the very fact that there is all this data in bulk, it has the enormous potential for abuse,” because they’ll say, you know, “You can — when you start looking at metadata, even if you don’t know the names, you can match it up, if there’s a call to an oncologist, and there’s a call to a lawyer, and — you can pair that up and figure out maybe this person’s dying, and they’re writing their will, and you can yield all this information.” All of that is true. Except for the fact that for the government, under the program right now, to do that, it would be illegal. We would not be allowed to do that.

The takeaway: A secret court granting an overwhelming majority of the secret requests for secret surveillance is a transparent program. And, beyond the oversight in place, the public has no need to worry, or be informed of the process, because there is little potential for government abuse.

Why won’t the government use NSA capabilities to the fullest privacy-abrogating potential? Because that would be illegal, sort of like: arming Mexican drug cartels by setting up straw firearms purchases, putting weapons directly in the hands of al-Qaida terrorists in the Mideast, using the Internal Revenue Service to target political foes  and spying on journalists stateside.

But America’s government leaders probably wouldn’t do any of those things either.

Personal Liberty

Sam Rolley

Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After covering community news and politics, Rolley took a position at Personal Liberty Media Group where could better hone his focus on his true passions: national politics and liberty issues. In his daily columns and reports, Rolley works to help readers understand which lies are perpetuated by the mainstream media and to stay on top of issues ignored by more conventional media outlets.

Join the Discussion

Comment Policy: We encourage an open discussion with a wide range of viewpoints, even extreme ones, but we will not tolerate racism, profanity or slanderous comments toward the author(s) or comment participants. Make your case passionately, but civilly. Please don't stoop to name calling. We use filters for spam protection. If your comment does not appear, it is likely because it violates the above policy or contains links or language typical of spam. We reserve the right to remove comments at our discretion.

  • vicki

    obama is a master of doublespeak.

    “A secret court granting an overwhelming majority of the secret requests
    for secret surveillance is a transparent program.”

    It is transparent. Just like air. You can’t see it.

    • Jana

      I watched a program on Fox showing how Obama has garnered information on people much like Herbert Hoover did. Of course Obama is not the one doing the the actual digging for the information, he has his minions out doing his dirty deeds. Who would have ever thought it could have ever come to this.
      I have often wondered if Obama discovered something about someone in Romney’s family that he used to blackmail him, as all of a sudden Romney sure did back off in running for the office of President. They used a lot of excuses, but it sure makes sense since I have learned some of the scheming, dirty, underhanded things that Obama has been doing.
      You are so right Vicki, transparent just like air. A perfect analogy.

      People have mocked when similarities of Hitler have been brought up, I have even thought it was overdoing it, but not any more. This man is something else.
      We had better not underestimate him.

      • Harold Olsen

        If I believed in reincarnation, I’d say that Obama is the reincarnation of Hitler.

        • Doc Sarvis

          Godwin’s Law
          BAM – so quick to go to the “H” word. You don’t even back it up.

          • agbjr

            Read William L. Shirer’s “Berlin Diary, the Journal of a Foreign Correspondent, 1934-1941″, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1941. The Obama/Hitler parallel is frankly chilling … and real.

          • WTS/JAY

            Of that, there can be no doubt!

          • vicki

            He hardy needs to. Current events are rather doing that job for him.

          • Nadzieja Batki

            Don’t need to as there is nothing new under the sun. All tyrants follow the same pattern whether in ancient days or a hundred years ago or now.

        • WTS/JAY

          Even if you didn’t believe in reincarnation, you would still be correct!

      • Vigilant

        Try “J. Edgar Hoover.” not Herbert Hoover.

        • Jana

          Thank you for catching my mistake.

  • independent thinker

    Obama used approsimatley 975 words to say absolutely nothing.

  • Harold Olsen

    It shows how uneducated the left is. They confuse the words “transparent” with “opaque.” Obama claims he has a transparent administration. Yeah, right, Everything he does is in secrecy. Pelosi said that the debates and everything done on Obamacare was completely transparent. I guess it was so transparent that that was why she said it needed to be passed so that everyone would know what was in it.

    • Darral

      Actually the majority those who vote left, Democrat are un educated and the Democratic party wants to keep them that way, uneducated servants for the Democratic party, However those in control of the party are every well educated and to under estimate them would be foolish indeed. They understand the arts of Manipulation, and deception and how to use it to gain and keep control, power. over the people.

  • village idiot

    Just remember he has some time on his hands still – 3 years and a bit in which to finally render the Constitution totally irrelevant and institute the NWO with himself at the helm as King and Dictator in Chief. Believe it! That is what his agenda is. He is not campaigning now he is working out how to enslave the American people and impose world domination. I just wonder what his mentors will do with him once he has served their purpose. Maybe he will end up in Gitmo as well? Maybe he is the anti-Christ? Just wondering. Nothing is getting better and there are too many people on the planet anyway. Even the elites do not need that many slaves, do they?

  • Warrior

    And you can keep your doctor too! Please tell me that “fundamental transformation” tale again. It’s my favorite.

  • FreedomFighter

    “A secret court granting an overwhelming majority of the secret requests for secret surveillance is a transparent program. And, beyond the oversight in place, the public has no need to worry+
    Man that’s the biggest load of BRAVO SIERRA ever to come out of a president
    Laus DeoSemper FI

  • agbjr

    If we had any real transparency we would see the truth about this Marxist sonofabitch currently occupying the White House. Real transparency means Obama would now be shooting his mouth off from Chicago while in Washington President Romney and congress are reinstating the Constitution.

    • Doc Sarvis

      President Obama is at least willing to be interviewed on one of President Bush’s policies.

      • agbjr

        President Bush retired more than five years ago; Obama now owns these programs and has put them on steroids for his own nefarious purposes. Get off the ‘Bash Bush’ bandwagon! There is now a real Marxist sonofabitch sitting in the White House poised to shred the Constitution and with it OUR Republic.

        • Doc Sarvis

          How has President Obama put the NSA program “on steroids”?
          Nice talk, but any President sitting in the White House is “poised” to do a lot of things – good or bad. Like President Obama, most chose to uphold the Constitution.

          • agbjr

            No president has a ‘choice’ to uphold the Constitution! It is their sacred responsibility to do so and any who will not MUST be removed. Obama is a Constitution-hating Marxist sonofabitch … as are his minions.

          • Doc Sarvis

            Correct, it is their responsibility to uphold the Constitution. Unlike President Obama, some have chosen not to uphold the Constitution.

            Now, care to answer my question? How has President Obama put the NSA program “on steroids”?

          • agbjr

            If you truly believe Obama upholds and cherishes the Constitution then explain this …

            Obama’s opinion of the Constitution, from an interview on Chicago’s WBEZ Radio, September 2001:

            “But I think it is an imperfect document, and I think it is a document that reflects some deep flaws in American culture, the Colonial culture nascent at that time.”

            Also, “I think we can say that the Constitution reflected an enormous blind spot in this culture that carries on until this day, and that the Framers had that same blind spot. I don’t think the two views are contradictory, to say that it was a remarkable political document that paved the way for where we are now, and to say that it also reflected the fundamental flaw of this country that continues to this day.”

            These are NOT the words of an American, they are the words of a Marxist sonofabitch.

          • Doc Sarvis

            If it were a perfect document the Supreme Court would be out of business. President Obama IS a patriotic American.

          • agbjr

            The purpose of the Supreme Court is to discern whether legislation is in harmony with the Constitution not to ‘interpret’ the Constitution to fit the intent of the legislation. Obama is NOT by any means an American in thought or deed. He is without doubt a narcissistic elitist Marxist sonofabitch, a quality NOT compatible with the Constitution or OUR Republic. Those minions who worship and support him are themselves either ignorant of American ways and civics or blatant fifth columnists. Anyone who believes themselves a true patriot AND supports Obama are frankly just kidding themselves.

            “Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.”

            James Madison

          • WTS/JAY

            Obama is many things, but a patriotic-American is not one of them!

          • Doc Sarvis

            And again, you shy away from my question to you.

          • vicki
          • WTS/JAY

            Where have you been, Doc. And what have you been sniffing?

          • WTS/JAY

            Not only is Obama a Constitution-hating Marxist sonofabitch. But the sonofabitch is also a America-hating sonofabitch!

        • WTS/JAY

          Bush may have been a maniac, but the current psychopath in office makes Bush look like choir-boy!

      • WTS/JAY

        Come on, wouldn’t you just love the opportunity to smack that smug-look off of Obama’s face? Sure you would. I know i would!

  • BarrackHussein

    Well Obama would have to have integrity to be believed… he lies and has surrounded himself with liars. No creditability now (as if there ever was).