Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Breaking News: Edward Snowden Is a Hero, Not a Criminal

(Updated below.)

Seriously, if what he revealed showed the NSA was doing bad stuff, how is he a criminal?

Yes, this was inspired by a "Breaking News" heading across the top of WaPo's online front page:
The White House is expected to release later Wednesday the report of a surveillance review board that has recommended modifying the National Security Agency counterterrorism program that collects virtually all Americans’ phone records.
The recommendation that the NSA no longer keep the phone database — estimated by some former officials to contain more than 1 trillion records — is among a set of sweeping technical reforms aimed at restoring public confidence in the spying apparatus, said individuals briefed on its contents.
...In sum, the panel took aim at some of the most controversial practices of the 35,000-employee signals intelligence agency, headquartered at Fort Meade, Md., which has been in the news constantly since June when documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began appearing in the press.
I think we'll be following this growing story that just yesterday had a federal district judge determining that the NSA's activities with phone records were quite likely unconstitutional.

Free Edward Snowden! Oh yeah, he is free. Okay, drop the charges!

National Intelligence head James Clapper: I'm a good guy, and Edward Snowden's not.

Update. I don't often read Maureen Dowd anymore, but this morning's headline, "Spying Run Amok," caught my eye:
After a federal judge here said in a ruling on Monday that the N.S.A.’s collection of phone data on all Americans was “almost Orwellian,” an assault on privacy that would leave James Madison “aghast,” a civil liberties group that had plastered a D.C. bus with the words “Thank you, Edward Snowden!” said it saw a “significant increase” in donations to expand the campaign.
Whatever we think of Snowden — self-aggrandizing creep or self-sacrificing crusader against creepy government spying or sociopath with stolen documents, as The Wall Street Journal put it, or someone who should “swing from a tall oak tree,” as John Bolton told Fox News — it is absolutely clear that the N.S.A. went wild with technology that allowed it to go wild. These technological toys turn everyone into thieves.
...“It’s one thing to say that people expect phone companies to occasionally provide information to law enforcement,” [Judge Leon] wrote, “it is quite another to suggest that our citizens expect all phone companies to operate what is effectively a joint intelligence-gathering operation with the government.”
Though the Justice Department tried to justify the mammoth hoovering by insisting on the need for speed, the judge pointed out that the N.S.A. couldn’t cite a single instance in which its haystack of data had produced the needle to puncture an imminent attack.
It’s always the case that technology is invented and used before its consequences are known. And it is also true that terrorists want to hurt us.
But Judge Leon struck a blow for the proposition that our moral and legal values regarding privacy are not obsolete just because some government employees out in suburban Maryland in a secretive agency with its own exit off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway got carried away with their cool new toys.
Indeed, Mo.

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