June 9, 2013

NSA WHISTLEBLOWER GOES PUBLIC. Some are calling him a hero, others a traitor. I’d say it’s a bit early to form an opinion, though the stuff he’s released is creating a much-needed stir. It’s very interesting to see the traditional left-right split erode, as Glenn Beck praises Glenn Greenwald’s big scoop.

UPDATE: A dissent from the widespread sentiment by reader John Burke:

I think it’s reprehensible that so much of the right of all colorations have fallen over themselves to team up with Glenn Greenwald, a hard-core leftist who finds nothing to like about the US or its policies and consistently defends terrorists, and the Guardian, a foreign left-wing paper to recklessly bash NSA intelligence gathering — no doubt in most cases because it casts Obama as a hypocrite on counter-terrorism issues.

A close reading of the NSA disclosures so far makes clear these are programs designed to collect foreign intelligence information at a time when most international communication has moved onto web platforms and phone calls are mostly mobile. Exposure of details about these programs risks harm not only to counter-terrorism activities (just how do you suppose CIA pinpoints al Qaeda targets in Pakistan for drone strikes?), but to all of our intelligence gathering and counter-espionage activities. Buried in a NYT story about PRISM is a reported fact that should give everyone pause: the biggest haul of data from PRISM in one recent period came from Iran.

Now, Greenwald’s stoolie has fled to Hong Kong where he hopes to be shielded by the Communist Chinese, great lovers of freedom as they are, while he spouts about how courageous he is.

It would be very disappointing to at least some of your longest term readers if you fell for this. These guys are out to do as much damage as they can to the United States.

Well, as I say, stay tuned.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails:

In response to reader John Burke’s comment on your post, specifically this part:

“These guys are out to do as much damage as they can to the United States.”

Who says this isn’t the same goal of the current regime in Washington? Everything that has happened since Obama took office either seems designed to hurt the US as much as possible or is the product of complete incompetence. Unfortunately, I don’t think Obama is that dumb. Biden, maybe.

I work in higher ed in a high level administrator position, so please don’t attach my name to anything as I face Obama fanboys all day long. It would make my already challenging days more difficult.

Good point. And reader Mark Cridland writes:

I lost a lot of respect for you a few minutes ago when reading your comments about Snowdon. I can’t imagine why it would be “a bit early to form an opinion.” This is just as clean a call against overpowering and centralized government authority as can be imagined.

(Why do NSA disclosures require “a close reading”?… Except that perhaps Burke-types like to imagine themselves as specially-perceptive people who really know how to parse information, just like these monsters in our government who’ve spent our money collecting it. About us.)

Well, I’ve been counting on Twitter for a couple of years now, and it handily completes the chores that your blog handled in the early days after the attacks, when Kaus so aptly described your perspective as “catholic.” I’ll never understand how intervening events have left you so timid, but it doesn’t really matter.

There’s a good chance that even Snowden doesn’t really know who he’s working for. Bear that in mind. But reader Chris Bray writes:

Your anti-Snowden reader is full of shit. The NSA is not building that Utah facility to narrowly examine carefully chosen foreign targets as security threats. We’re transitioning to a total surveillance society, and Edward Snowden is trying to tell us about some of it. This is where we sort the limited government conservatives from the Lindsey Graham crowd.

Well, stay tuned. Just remember that you may or may not know what’s really going on.

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