Tuesday, June 11, 2013


“If you harness all the capabilities of our nation, you could have a better understanding of foreign threats,” he said. “But what makes it hard is that everyone has an opinion. There’s very little appreciation for the threat, and there are so many special interests, particularly civil liberty groups with privacy concerns. That mix keeps us from getting to the crux of the national issue."

this quote comes from mike mcconnell, former head of the n.s.a and director of national intelligence currently working as vice chairman for booz allen hamilton.  he was commenting on the snowden leaks concerning the secret u.s. surveillance system called prism.

it's the special interests that make america.  it's those special interests we're guarding.  the crux of the national issues shouldn't be security for security's sake, but rather security to guard american rights, particularly the personal autonomy and agency that our culture highly values.

bradley manning does not seem like the brightest bulb.  he released a lot of classified diplomatic cables less revelatory about american diplomatic missions than they were embarrassing to some of the diplomats.  he acted like a teenager, impulsive, and caused a big stink.  at the same time, as with a lot of people who act impulsively, the consequences of his actions will probably be more severe than he deserves. 

the information that edward snowden recently released about secret surveillance programs in the united states is completely different than the information released by manning.  snowden leaked information he genuinely thought the american public needed to know.  he wanted to inform the public about an issue that potentially affects them.  and now we see america actively considering the role of government in their lives, the importance of national security weighed against their own privacy.  after over a decade of hearing the war drums started by president bush, this is a conversation the american public needs to have.

ps: david brooks completely misses the point with snowden.  i think he could have made this argument with manning, but this is completely different.

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