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.