Not that you likely missed it, but you more likely just accepted in the current status quo natural order of things that the Director of National Intelligence lied in Congressional testimony, admitted it — and no one in Washington DC even seemed to blink.
This occurred before Edward Snowden, now a temporary-asylum resident of Russia, revealed the infamous PRISM program that the NSA uses to conduct data mining sweeping.
We are a nation of laws, aren’t we.
Then why does the US government only apply the law to those who make our government more transparent?
Why does Director of National Intelligence Clapper get a free ride for lying to Congress and the American people?
I’ve found the saga of Edward Snowden to be useful for one reason: it’s forced us to think about how (or if) we strike a balance between privacy and security. It’s a conversation long overdue; as our lives become ever more digital and electronic, there’s an inevitable and corresponding loss of privacy. We’ve mutely acquiesced to turning ever greater quantities of our personal information over to entities who do with it…well, who knows what? That the National Security Agency (NSA) is sitting on a treasure trove of cell phone metadata is hardly surprising. The question is what they’ll use it for, and if this represents the beginning of a descent down a slippery slope: today, cell phone metadata; tomorrow, listening to our phone calls?
How one views Snowden’s action (Heroism or treason?) seems to depend on which side of the political divide one happens to inhabit, though there are those concerned about the issues raised without turning it into a partisan political farce. I find myself on the fence; I can understand that we can’t have people disclosing secrets left and right…but what happens when/if our government oversteps? It’s easy to demonize a whistleblower, but how else would we know if our government is engaged in activities that run counter to preserving and protecting democracy?
I suspect that much of the government’s impetus for pressing charges against Snowden is embarrassment. One of their contractors with access to high-level programs and information disclosed that there’s a program in place designed to collect vast amounts of information about electronic communications. I suspect the last thing the NSA wants is to see a debate break out over what should be considered “appropriate” surveillance. It’s a debate we must have…unless we’re to be OK with the idea of our government collecting ever greater amounts of private information in the guise of the war on terrorism.