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5 Questions for Barack Obama About NSA Spying

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News Item 1: Yet further revelations about the National Security Agency's intrusions into the lives and minds of people around the world -- this time leaders of foreign governments, businesses, and aid organizations -- including the emails of West African Mohamed Chambas (not reassuringly about how well the NSA processes this information, NSA notes refer to him as "Chambers") were released from the cache of Edward Snowden documents by The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel.

New Item 2. A distinguished panel selected by the president to advise him on NSA's activities made 46 far-reaching and fundamental recommendations. The panel's basic read was that the NSA had gone far overboard in collecting information with no legal or administration guidance.

News Items 3. A federal judge declared, based on previous Snowden revelations, that the NSA maintaining logs on Americans' phone calls probably violated the Constitution and was "almost Orwellian."

News Item 4. In a nondescript holiday press conference, the president hardly gave his NSA panel's work a nod, showing little interest or familiarity or concern with its recommendations, except to basically reject one of its key recommendations (having private communications companies, rather than the government, store Americans' phone records, then requiring legal authorization for the NSA to obtain the data).

Here are five questions I wish that the president would have been asked at the press conference:

  1. Were you fully aware of the extend of the NSA's spying on foreign leaders and on its collection of data on Americans before the Snowden leaks came to light?
  2. Are there any further revelations we might expect from the Snowden trove that you know of and want the American people informed about, and if so what are these?
  3. Would there have been this robust discussion about these NSA activities that you say you welcome were it not for the Snowden revelations?
  4. Do you think that Edward Snowden is owed any degree of thanks for his having brought these matters to your and our attention?
  5. Considering that Soviet Intelligence notified the FBI and CIA about the Tsarnaev brothers and the information was never passed along to the Boston police, does the NSA have TOO MUCH phone and Internet data to deal with?

Stanton Peele's next book (with Ilse Thompson), Recover! Stop Thinking Like an Addict and Reclaim Your Life with The PERFECT Program, due February 4, is available for pre-order here.