June 24, 2013

ROGER SIMON: What Snowden Knew.

I don’t have a brief for Snowden. He seems to be a new form of narcissistic international creep, similar to Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame. I hope he gets dysentery in Ecuador or wherever he winds up.

But he may have done us a favor, putting an exclamation point on the activities of the NSA so there are no doubts. He also has made obvious the utter contempt with which Russia and China treat the Obama administration. (Evidently this was surprising to Dianne Feinstein on Face the Nation Sunday. Go figure.)

Also interesting is that the heightened concern for our civil liberties under government digital surveillance crosses political and party lines. Given the plethora of scandals confronting the administration, this presents an opportunity for dialogue we haven’t had for many years. Who knows if it will happen?

But if it does, I hope it will be intelligent and substantive. These are not easy questions. Good reasons exist for government surveillance.

Most obvious of them is the threat and reality of Islamic terrorism, which, despite the death of bin Laden, does not seem to be going away. Quite the contrary. It appears to be growing rapidly and dangerously.

The problem is, it’s hard to trust the people who are supposed to use that data to protect us to do so, when they abandoned their own in Benghazi. And it’s hard to trust them not to use that data to oppress us, when they’ve already abused their powers that way in other connections. Which is why abuse of power is itself a kind of treason: It weakens the fabric of the nation like nothing else, by undermining the trust that is essential for the system to work.

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