NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

January 27, 2014

A look at what others are saying

The following are excerpts from newspapers across New England:

If Big Brother had outsourced some of his work, the lives of the people in the novel “1984” would have been little different.

It’s the same story in the United States 30 years later. Making cosmetic changes to the functioning of the surveillance state will do no one any good.

President Barack Obama spoke for nearly three-quarters of an hour on changes he’d like to see in the ways that the federal government conducts its spying programs. But in the end, what all the words added up to was just more of the same.

A record of every telephone call made to, from or within the United States — the phone that made the call, the number dialed, the duration — will still be retained in a searchable database. But rather than being in the hands of the National Security Agency, it will be moved into the possession of some as-yet-to-be-named third party.

Additionally, the president said the United States would not be in the business of spying on our allies, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

And he announced some study and review, some consultation with Congress.

Feeling a great sense of relief, of liberty truly restored?

The president’s response was awfully thin gruel, an effort to tamp down the worries of those who have been rightly feeling that our government, rather than providing protection, has become a real threat to our fundamental liberties.

As we pointed out, the president had been as silent as a spy on the surveillance state — until former NSA contractor Edward Snowden blew the cover off the operation back in June of last year.

It’s good that Obama is now finally talking, but the changes he’s speaking of have got to add up to more than just rearranging the pieces of the same secretive puzzle.

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