You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

First POST: Welcome to the NBA

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, January 16 2014

Welcome to the NBA

  • Peter Baker's front-page story in The New York Times on "Obama's Path From Critic to Overseer of Spying" is today's must-read. The second of two stories in the paper of record that the White House is obviously enabling to manage expectations around the President's speech Friday on NSA reform, Baker's story notably includes rare on-the-record quotes from top Obama political advisers David Plouffe and David Axelrod explaining how the harsh realities of what the Oval Office hears each morning has sobered the once civil-liberties-minded constitutional law professor. Message to the base: trust us.

  • Most intriguing to this reader: how Obama's views reportedly started to shift during the 2008 transition:

    Mr. Obama was told before his inauguration of a supposed plot by Somali extremists to attack the ceremony, what David Axelrod, his adviser, called a “welcome-to-the-N.B.A. moment before the first game.” Although the report proved unfounded, it reinforced to Mr. Obama the need to detect threats before they materialized. “The whole Somali threat injected their team into the realities of national security in a tangible and complicated way,” recalled Juan C. Zarate, the departing counterterrorism adviser to Mr. Bush who worked with the Obama team on the threat.

    My question: Since the threat "proved unfounded," who was sending the "welcome-to-the-N.B.A" message? (And, really, if you were at the inauguration, remember the disaster that was actual crowd management on the ground? The Purple Tunnel of Doom?)

  • NSA whistle-blowers Ed Loomis, Kirk Wiebe, Thomas Drake, William Binney and Diane Roark have an op-ed in USA Today that starts, "Wake up, America. While we've been paying attention to other things, our intelligence agencies have been tearing holes into the Bill of Rights."

  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation has posted a scorecard to tracking whether Obama hits the mark on real NSA reform.

  • Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg does a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session. Here's a summary link to all his answers.

In other news around the web:

  • VC Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures explains why, from the perspective of tech start-ups and their funders, the "Internet 3.0" of sponsored data and discriminatory access will be a disaster.

  • Tim Fernholz argues in Quartz that Verizon's victory in federal district court over the FCC's "open internet" rule may ultimately be a loss, if it results in the agency taking action to put broadband under "common carrier" regulation, a step it had previously been shy to take.

  • The Knight Foundation is updating its report on "The Emergence of Civic Tech" and is seeking suggestions for organizations it may have missed and investment data that it might have left out.

  • Yesterday mySociety launched SayIt, the first product of Poplus, its international partnership with Ciudadano Inteligente in Chile. SayIt makes it easy to search, browse and share transcripts (such as this example of J.K. Rowling testifying in the Leveson Inquiry). The goal of Poplus, says Tom Steinberg of mySociety, "is to built components - bits ofinteroperable, reusable tech - that will reduce the cost and difficulty of launching sites that are about power and accountability."

  • Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff (and friend of PDM) has an essay in Politico Magazine on "How Technology Killed the Future." Subtitle: "Presidents--and the rest of us--can't get anything done anymore."

  • Former Vice President Al Gore comes down against "geo-engineering" the globe to stop climate change, saying "it would be "insane, utterly mad and delusional in the extreme."

  • Controversial education reformer Michelle Rhee's #askMichelle chat on Twitter did not go well.