SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- As the international manhunt for Edward Snowden intensifies, President Obama again tried to defend his war on whistle-blowers and the need for warrantless surveillance programs. Attorney General Holder called such actions "vital to the preservation of national security." The president even rationalized spying on the governments of European allies this Monday as a standard practice in the international intelligence community. But the NSA's data collection and monitoring efforts are neither biased nor prejudiced by religious and ethnic profiling, the president assured; every American is suspect, because any individual could be working with a terrorist cell. As if to illustrate the point Wednesday, the president fretfully admitted being suspicious about his own connections to the leaders of terrorist nations after reviewing transcripts of his private phone calls and emails, which were obtained by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on his orders.
On June 6, The Guardian and the Washington Post published controversial disclosures of the NSA's covert domestic spying programs after former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor Edward Snowden leaked the information. Snowden revealed the existence of PRISM, a clandestine electronic surveillance program operated by the NSA. He is now wanted by the U.S. government for violations of the Espionage Act, in which the death penalty can be applied, although the legality of the charges remains a dubious and hotly contested debate among legal experts.
PRISM has been operating since 2007 under the supervision of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The documents leaked by Snowden describe PRISM as the largest central source of "raw intelligence used for NSA analytics reports." Just a day prior to PRISM's exposure, it was also discovered that the FISC had been demanding Verizon to hand over logs of all customers' phone records on a continuous basis.
During a PBS interview with Charlie Rose in mid-June, Obama bizarrely called the NSA programs "transparent" and claimed they had disrupted terror plots in the United States and overseas. He offered no evidence to support these claims.
What the demonization of Edward Snowden illustrates once again is the Obama administration's unprecedented pursuit of leakers and whistle-blowers, including the journalists who publish leaked documents. The president's underlying paranoia about the American public's potential, though unlikely, ties to terror seems to dwell at the heart of these draconian measures.
Now Obama worries that he too may have terrorist affiliations after reviewing his own phone transcripts and emails.
White House insiders say the president pored over years of his own communications last week, finding a surprising amount of correspondence to officials in Iran, Libya, South Yemen, Cuba, Sudan and North Korea -- countries all covered under the U.S. Department of State's "State Sponsors of Terrorism" designation. As a result, the president ordered Attorney General Eric Holder to launch a probe of his activities. The DOJ is expected to begin the investigation after the Independence Day holiday.
"President Obama is facing a lot of self-doubt and security concerns," one aide revealed on condition of anonymity. "Recently, he saw that he'd been trying to start negotiations with Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria when intelligence came back that chemical weapons were being deployed. Back in the summer of 2011, Obama even called Assad and urged him to step down."
"Now, Obama's ready to arm Syrian rebels," the source continued. "Before all that, he was sending emails to North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, about nuclear missiles. That led to military mobilization between the DPRK and U.S. allies, before the threat was diffused. Obama was talking to everybody during the Arab Spring uprisings. He was calling Egyptian President Mubarak regularly. He was dealing with Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi too. Next thing you know, one leader's deposed and the other's assassinated in the streets. And let's not forget, Obama knew where Osama bin Laden was hiding. Sure, he killed the mastermind of 9/11, but only by courting sources with ties to terror."
What the president nervously realized today, the source emphasized, was that he has more phone numbers, email addresses and direct conversations with resources deeply linked to terrorism than any other person in America.
As a result, the aide said, President Obama is considering turning himself over to authorities for interrogation.
"I bet there's an awful lot of things I know that could severely compromise our nation's security, and we need to understand exactly how deep those associations run," Obama said. "Until the NSA, FBI and CIA have had an opportunity to extract this intelligence from me, I'm not going to feel safe walking down the streets."
Obama said he wouldn't rule out ordering armed drone patrols or calling for his impeachment, depending on the level of his cooperation with investigators.
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