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Commentary: Obama's spying overhaul proposals too weak to win back trust

English.news.cn   2014-01-18 18:54:04

by Huang Yinjiazi

BEIJING, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- President Barack Obama is known for eloquence. But his long-awaited speech on overhauling the controversial intelligence community of the United States has failed to impress as it has little substance.

Obama moved in the right direction by ordering to curtail some of the spying programs of the National Security Agency (NSA) to enhance transparency and privacy seven months after the disclosure of the superpower's spying saga.

Nevertheless, few were heartened by the speech, half of which was dedicated to defending rather than reflecting on the juggernaut of country's surveillance programs.

Some are unhappy with the ambiguity and the lack of details of the speech itself; others doubt whether the president's words will be matched with action.

All in all, the changes proposed by Obama are too weak to remedy the damage of U.S. spying, which spared almost nobody, even its close allies.

It is revealed that the NSA gathers on average about 200 million text messages worldwide every day, few of them are believed to have contributed to the aim of fighting terrorism as has stated by Obama. And that is just a tip of the iceberg of the organization's huge spying scheme.

Thus, Americans could hardly stop worrying about their privacy and pride themselves as being the citizens of a country that values human rights, after hearing their president call for an end to government control over phone data, but stop short of saying whether the metadata should instead be held either by private providers or by a private third party.

Globally, Washington, whose trustworthiness was greatly dented after it relentlessly and indiscriminately siphoned information, needs to show genuine sincerity rather than just promising not to bug the phones of the leaders of its "close friends and allies overseas."

It is noteworthy that Obama did not list which countries fall under that category, making it unclear how the proposal would be carried out. No wonder Germany, whose chancellor has fallen victim to U.S. spying, wants to thoroughly study the wording of Obama's speech.

To rekindle its cooled relations with other countries, especially those heartbroken allies, Washington should take concrete action.

The eye-popping tapping tale, while angering countries worldwide, has revealed that the United States is too deeply entrenched in suspicion.

This entrenchment, given the status of the United States as the world's sole superpower, is dangerous as mutual suspicion between countries could result in catastrophes.

Instead of safeguarding its own national security in such a disgraceful manner and at too great a cost, the United States should lead international efforts to knit a net of trust among countries and address the root cause of insecurity to push for world peace and inclusiveness, as well as common development and prosperity.


Video>>>Obama meets lawmakers to discuss changes to intelligence system

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama offered a series of changes to the National Security Agency (NSA)' s controversial surveillance practices on Friday, seven months after leaks by formal defense contractor Edward Snowden sparked controversy and furor around the world.

In a highly anticipated and carefully worded speech at the Justice Department, Obama outlined his plan to pull back part of the NSA's surveillance programs while defending the role of secret surveillance in the post 9/11 era. Full story

Obama to unveil proposals to reform NSA surveillance programs next week

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama will unveil his proposals to reform the National Security Agency's surveillance programs next week, the White House announced on Friday.

The White House said the president will make the announcement in a speech on Jan. 17. Full story

U.S. special court renews NSA phone metadata program

WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on Friday renewed the authority of National Security Agency to operate its controversial phone metadata collection program.

The U.S. government has filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court seeking to renew the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and the court renewed the authority on Friday, said Shawn Turner, spokesman of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in a statement. Full story

Editor: chengyang
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