Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire; Where There's Fog There's . . .

Amid the actual scandals putrefying within the Obama administration is the revelation that the National Security Agency has been collecting metadata on communications such as phone calls and internet traffic. Without additional, more shocking revelations, this may be more akin to fog dissipating with the morning rays of the sun rather than to smoke indicating a raging fire.

The British based Guardian has begun publishing a series of articles revealing probably what most Americans suspected: that our various intelligence agencies monitor phone and other communications media for indications of possible terrorist attacks. The articles have driven the news cover this last week and provoked everything from expressions of  "troubling" feelings to protestations of outrage from left and right. Conservatives should remember that this all takes place under the legal auspices of the Bush Administration's Patriot Act.

Until we know more, the news should keep us watching and waiting. The two programs in question, Prism and Boundless Informant,  gather and aggregate metadata on communications. Although the government says it does not gather content, the Prism program has that capability. And we remember that government already denied gathering an information on Americans:

Meanwhile, revelations about the identity of the whistle blower have generated more heat. Fox News and CNN both headlines the fallacious complex question about Edward Snowden:  Hero or Traitor?
We know something is not right when both Glen Beck and Michael Moore call him a hero. Senator Diane Feinstein called his action treasonous. Maybe Snowden is neither.

Snowden's case somewhat resembles that of the NSA. The security agency allegedly collects information about telephone and internet communication; it does not collect content. Similarly, Snowden and the Guardian has only revealed the fact (already suspected) that the NSA gathers metadata. If he has any access to it, Snowden has not as yet revealed any content of the data beyond the general workings of the data gathering and aggregating programs themselves. He can claim "innocence" on the same grounds as the government.

Watch and wait.


CW said...

“Conservatives should remember that this all takes place under the legal auspices of the Bush Administration's Patriot Act.”

It’s my understanding that the man who actually authored The Patriot Act disagrees that what the NSA is doing falls within the legal confines of the Act. So far the debate is often centered around whether or not these programs are worthwhile (i.e. do they stop terrorists) and skip over the issue of whether or not it’s legal/constitutional, which should come first.

As for Snowden, my views on him are negative. Here’s a man who was disappointed to learn that Barack Obama didn’t really mean what he said about transparency and being a different kind of politician (despite all of the evidence to the contrary and the history of leftwing politicians in general). So right there, he’s a child in my view. There were ways that he could have played the role of “whistleblower” but he chose to leak classified info instead, with no regard for the security of the people he claimed to be looking out for.

The French threw rose petals at Hitler’s feet, so eager were they for a hero. People should wait and see who Snowden turns out to be before they pin any metals on him.

RightDetour said...

Do I strattle the fence too much for you?

I watched the hilarious video you posted of Adam Corolla. I have not had time to get back and comment. I had foot surgery and have been confined to the couch for several days with my leg elevated. I fell way behind on blogging and everything else. I occasionally worked with my wife's laptop, but difficult to get use to it. I've finally been released from couch duty by the doctor and now I am trying to catch up.

CW said...

>>”Do I strattle the fence too much for you?”

No, not at all V.L. I appreciate that you’re not a my-team-right-or-wrong kind of guy and you’re thoughtful about things. I have concerns that conservatives want to embrace Snowden as a hero because he was the impetus for exposing the latest Obama scandal and libertarians want to embrace him as a hero because he exposed the govt’s big brother tactics, so we may be choosing not to examine his actions too carefully. Sorry if I sounded testy.

Sorry to hear about your foot surgery (ouch!) but glad you’re on the mend.