Chris Hedges decided to re-write Obama’s speech to more accurately reflect his intentions, and what he would say if he were honest about them. It’s a really good read—a detailed history about how the federal government since the early 20th century has exploited war to subvert civil liberties in order to preserve their political power and that of their corporate beneficiaries while crushing opposition and dissent.
The last few paragraphs are very pertinent jabs at how the president, despite promising “hope and change”, has offered nothing but the same steady regression towards a totalitarian corporate state:
Given the unique power of the state, it is not enough for leaders to say “trust us, we won’t abuse the data we collect.” History has too many examples of such trust being breached. Our system of government is built on the premise that our liberty cannot depend on the good intentions of those in power; it depends on the law to constrain those in power. And that is why Congress and our courts have rewritten our laws, from the NDAA to the FISA Amendment Act, to strip you of legal protection.
I would not be where I am today were it not for the courage of dissidents like Martin Luther King Jr. who were spied upon by their own government. But I, like Bill Clinton, have sold out those true patriots and gutted those government programs that made possible my own education and ascent into systems of elite power. As president I understand, as do Bill and Hillary, that political power is about us, not about you. I know where power in this country lies. It does not lie with the citizen. It lies with Wall Street and corporate boardrooms. And since my vanity demands that I be famous, wealthy and powerful, I work hard for these centers of power. None of these centers of power want to see any curbs on the security and surveillance state. And so I will make sure there are none.
...The cosmetic reforms I’m proposing today will, I hope, give the American people greater confidence that their rights are being protected, even as our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, along with our courts, continue to eviscerate those rights. I recognize that there are additional issues that require further debate, such as your constitutional right to halt the wholesale capturing and storing of your personal information and correspondence and evidence of your geographical movements. But don’t expect me to help. I sold out long ago.