It is stuff like this from the Telegraph that is the reason that I am pushing so hard for us to deal with facts:
None of this debunks outright Snowden’s claims that the NSA is gathering data, that it has extraordinary power or that it has lied to Congress about it. But it does smack of a lack of fact checking on the part of The Guardian and it risks giving credibility to those who think this is a lot of fuss about nothing (and I’m not one of them). As Joshua Foust of Medium.com suggests, the problem probably rests with Snowden. He first approached the Washington Post via a freelancer and demanded that they publish everything without time for fact checking or government comment. The Post hesitated – so Snowden went to The Guardian instead. This forced the Post to speed up publication of its own story. Frost: “Both papers, in their rush, wound up printing misleading stories.” If so, they’re in trouble.
We are all reacting to information that is just too fluid right now.
Glen Greenwald at the Guardian, the reporter that Snowden went to, is no friend to classic liberalism, he is a dyed in the wool “progressive”.
I choose to be as skeptical about information during a Democrat administration as I do during a Republican one. Let’s get this clear – I do believe it is legitimate to disobey a law that contradicts the Constitution but in an age of judicial review, new situations are commonly submitted to the courts where sworn testimony can be given to get the emotion out and the facts in.
I believed that Eric Lichtblau and James Risen of the New York Times should have been investigated and the leaker prosecuted over the disclosure of the NSA’s international SWIFT monitoring program back in 2005 but even these two noted Obama’s continual domestic overreach in 2009:
The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year, government officials said in recent interviews.
Several intelligence officials, as well as lawyers briefed about the matter, said the N.S.A. had been engaged in “overcollection” of domestic communications of Americans. They described the practice as significant and systemic, although one official said it was believed to have been unintentional.
If (and this is a big “if”) the tracking of phone numbers was done on the numbers only, without a tie to a particular person, and then a warrant was obtained to discover the identity of that person and to further explore the content of the calls, then I have a very difficult time seeing this as an invasion of privacy. If it wasn’t – and they knew the identity of the holder of the number, then that changes it all for me. If they actually did just sweep up all this data so that they could peek in the window, it should be stopped and people prosecuted.
But if you look closely at what Snowden claimed, it is that people with access could compromise individual rights, not that they actually did. Seems like we are still dealing with a lot of supposition here rooted in the words of a dude that gets seemingly more squirrelly by the hour…
Do I trust any government not to mishandle data or abuse this power? No I don’t. I’ve said as much – but until we know what we know, we don’t know…and we won’t know how to deal with it. The NSA could well have followed the dictates of the law to the letter and this still be a bad program that needs to go but let’s operate with facts instead of screaming “revolution!” and “traitor!” because it fits our biases – that’s what liberals do.
Like Rumsfeld said, it is not the known knowns that are the problem, it is the unknown unknowns. All I am saying is this: let’s give it enough time to see if the unknown unknowns can be known. If they are known in the fullness of time and our worst fears are confirmed, hand me a Gadsden flag and I’ll lead the charge.
Again, based on what I know today, this seems to me to be no different than walking downtown in any major city or shopping district where you are being recorded by a camera. You can come to my house and stand on the sidewalk and watch me do what I do all day long – that is not illegal. I can drive down the streets and catalog everything that is in every driveway – that is not illegal. Neither are because there is no expectation of privacy. If I was a government lawyer defending this case, I would state that there is no expectation of privacy for anyone, including the government, that would prevent data mining of phone numbers (not names) since we freely give them out to FaceBook, Google, any individual on-line vendor and the are open to the public in every phone book.
As far as “signing away my natural rights”, I can’t – but you can sign away your legal rights.