Glenn Greenwald writes that “US political leaders pretend to validate and even channel public anger by acknowledging that there are ‘serious questions that have been raised’,” but then they “make the system prettier and more politically palatable with empty, cosmetic “reforms” so as to placate public anger while leaving the system fundamentally unchanged, even more immune than before to serious challenge,” and that this tactic is “predictable.”

All of which is so absolutely true that it’s actually banal.  It’s hard to summon the enthusiasm to even write about Obama’s speech, because it was so clear from months ago that the reaction of the Administration to the NSA scandal was going to be to placate and protect.  And, indeed, as Greenwald puts it:

Ultimately, the radical essence of the NSA – a system of suspicion-less spying aimed at hundreds of millions of people in the US and around the world – will fully endure even if all of Obama’s proposals are adopted.

This is especially problematic because…  if Presidents aren’t accountable — and Obama sure isn’t behaving like someone who’s ultimately accountable — who is?  I mean, most people can’t even name their Senators or Representatives.  Dianne Feinstein, one of my Senators, is one of the elites most responsible for shielding the NSA from all criticism, and her seat isn’t anything like remotely in danger over this.

The contempt from the political caste about this is palpable.  Greenwald puts it well when he notes:

“Individual freedom is the wellspring of human progress,” [Obama] gushed with an impressively straight face. “One thing I’m certain of, this debate will make us stronger,” he pronounced, while still seeking to imprison for decades the whistleblower who enabled that debate.


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