More Movement On The NSA Leaks
Over the past few days we have learned of an internal audit of NSA programs that showed violations at a rate of 1000’s per year. Now we learn that Glen Greenwald’s partner was detained and questioned for nine hours at Heathrow Airport then being forced to leave without his electronic equipment which was confiscated by authorities. In response to the constant drip of information about NSA’s surveillance programs we are seeing more and more opinions forming and the movement is decidedly not NSA or administration friendly. The latest to speak out is Andrew Sullivan. Here is some of what he has to say,
Readers know I have been grappling for a while with the vexing question of the balance between the surveillance state and the threat of Jihadist terrorism. When the NSA leaks burst onto the scene, I was skeptical of many of the large claims made by civil libertarians and queasily sympathetic to a program that relied on meta-data alone, as long as it was transparent, had Congressional buy-in, did not accidentally expose innocent civilians to grotesque privacy loss, and was watched by a strong FISA court.
Since then, I’ve watched the debate closely and almost all the checks I supported have been proven illusory. The spying is vastly more extensive than anyone fully comprehended before; the FISA court has been revealed as toothless and crippled; and many civilians have had their privacy accidentally violated over 3000 times. The president, in defending the indefensible, has damaged himself and his core reputation for honesty and candor. These cumulative revelations have exposed this program as, at a minimum, dangerous to core liberties and vulnerable to rank abuse. I’ve found myself moving further and further to Glenn’s position.
As one of those pesky civil libertarians who made “large claims” early on, it is gratifying to see someone the stature of Andrew Sullivan step up on this subject. I also appreciate one other sentence from his piece. After admitting that he initially fell for the argument that no abuse has taken place, he says that he now remembers,
If a system is ripe for abuse, history tells us the only question is not if such abuse will occur, but when.
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