There have got to be FEW people on the planet who are as “hard to see” as the President of the United States. First off, the matter had BETTER be important! This afternoon, President Obama held his first Google+ “hangout” with a handful of voters. The President answered a question about whether the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) would levy “too much censorship on the Internet,” but stopped short of saying that he opposes the legislation (he is a politician, after all, and the bills are largely supported by Democrats ). He urged Hollywood, the Recording Industry Association of America, and Internet companies in Silicon Valley (I used to “live” in a few of them) to work to “come together” on the issue.
“I think that it’s going to be possible for us” to find a workable approach, Obama said during the event broadcast on YouTube, predicting that it’s possible to protect Hollywood’s interests without “affecting the fundamental integrity of the Internet as an open, transparent system.”
“What I’ve suggested is that both sides–the content side and the server side–come together and work with us to create a system where there are strong protections in place,” and the Internet as an open and transparent system can also be protected, he said.
I applaud the President’s attempt to bridge the gulf between the “old world” of the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and their allies and the “new world” of Internet and high-tech companies who actually UNDERSTAND a bit about the Internet, users, and civil liberties groups who actually CARE about the Bill of Rights! These “new world” folk OPPOSE (PDF) the two bills, which would allow the Justice Department “…to obtain an order to be served on search engines, Internet service providers, and other companies, forcing them to make a suspected piratical Web site effectively vanish.”
After Obama downplayed the significance of a New York Times article reporting that Iraqis are protesting “a small fleet of surveillance drones” patrolling Iraq’s airspace even though U.S. troops have left the country, one participant wondered: “Do they send the message that the U.S. is interfering in other countries’ affairs?”
Obama paused and retrenched. In general, he said, drones are a “targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists” and the program has “not caused a huge number of civilian casualties.”
“This thing is kept on a very tight leash,” he said.
Maybe drones are a “targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists” in Iraq, but the “small fleet” of Predator B drones that patrols the northern and southwestern borders of the United States has been used for far-less-significant things, like examining suspected cattle rustlers (six cows!) in North Dakota!
Something seems amiss when drones target terrorists abroad and suspected cattle rustlers at home! I’ll bet that many American citizens who are AWARE of the domestic drone surveillance are probably pretty “steamed” about it, too!
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