Foreign Policy Glenn Greenwald International Relations Internet NSA President Obama Russia Worse than Bush

President Obama and First Lady Taking It To The World

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, third from right, her daughters Malia, right, and Sasha, second from right, is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping, second from left, and his wife Peng Liyuan, left, at the Diaoyutai State guest house in Beijing, China Friday, March 21, 2014. U.S. first lady Michelle Obama met with excited students who were building robots and tried her hand at Chinese calligraphy Friday during a tour of a Beijing high school. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, Pool)

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama with Malia, right, and Sasha, greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan in Beijing, China Friday(AP Photo/Andy Wong, Pool)


First Lady Michelle Obama is in China on a goodwill tour– the first independent trip by the wife of a U.S. president to the country. During a speech to about 200 students at Peking University’s Stanford Center, she told the crowd:

“It is so important for information and ideas to flow freely over the internet and through the media. My husband and I are on the receiving end of plenty of questioning and criticism from our media and our fellow citizens, and it’s not always easy. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

“When it comes to expressing yourself freely, and worshipping as you choose, and having open access to information – we believe those are universal rights that are the birthright of every person on this planet.”

But since Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald have pretty much poisoned the well of international relations, greeting any effort by this president and First Lady to promote the principles of democracy and freedom with eye-rolling immaturity and sneering contempt, they’ve done much to cut this president– and, by extension, America– off at the knee.

And, so long as people are led to believe we’re worse than, or equal to, Russia’s and China’s record on human rights and internet freedom, the President and First Lady are evidently not allowed to leave the house anymore.

Meanwhile, President Obama is headed to Europe this week, “making his first trip to the European Union headquarters in Brussels as part of his tour that includes a nuclear security summit in the Netherlands, a G-7 meeting in The Hague and a visit with Pope Francis in Vatican City.”

With the Snowden NSA revelations acting as a diplomatic cloud over U.S. credibility, it’s going to be a tall order trying to convince Europe that Russia’s actions in Ukraine demand immediate, unified action.

In taking good faith steps toward addressing the concerns of privacy extremists who see black choppers and chemtrails in their inbox, I’ve never seen so much openness and responsiveness toward reforming the legal practices of our national security apparatus. This administration actually gives a shit what people think. Go figure.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Holder told reporters that the Justice Department was on track to present the president with its proposal to change the government’s metadata collection program. In a January speech, Obama tasked his attorney general with finding a way to wind down the government program without harming intelligence capabilities.

And, even though you can burn the president in effigy on You Tube and pretty much call for his head on the floor of the U.S. congress these days, accusing him of everything from conspiring to kill American citizens and silence dissent to being a Muslim sleeper cell coming for your guns and bible, according to Reporters Without Borders, “The US government doesn’t censor online content, and pours money into promoting Internet freedom worldwide.”

And never mind the fact that Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald continue to selectively leak stolen national security documents virtually unobstructed while complaining about all their lost freedoms as they hurl all kinds of wild accusations and innuendo. If this president is trying to silence their dissent, ignore their concerns and destroy internet freedom, he’s doing it wrong.

I get the feeling it’ll never be good enough. There will never be satisfaction. We’ll never be “free” enough to appease those who’ve dug in and made metadata collection a crime “worse than Bush.”

When will we know? When are we allowed to show up and vote for Democrats without being shamed?