Chicago Values and the NSA

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Chicago Values and the NSA

The entire debate about the NSA PRISM pro­gram comes down to these two dif­fer­ent views from two peo­ple I respect:

Robert Stacy McCain

while the NSA’s access to phone and e-​mail records raises Fourth Amend­ment con­cerns about poten­tial abuse, there is no one who can point to an instance where actual abuse has occurred. So far as we know, no one has been arrested on the basis of ille­gally obtained infor­ma­tion or tar­geted by the NSA because they’re on Obama’s Ene­mies List of polit­i­cal opponents.

Appar­ently, Glenn Greenwald’s idea to solve this prob­lem was to present the world with Edward Snow­den as the hero-​victim, mak­ing him the sym­bol (as Green­wald saw it) of how the admin­is­tra­tion was pun­ish­ing coura­geous truth-​tellers. How­ever, ratio­nal peo­ple (a cat­e­gory from which Green­wald long ago excluded him­self) rec­og­nized this as prob­lem­atic: Snow­den wasn’t an IRS employee reveal­ing impor­tant truths about unlaw­ful polit­i­cal abuse of gov­ern­ment power, or a DOJ staffer dis­clos­ing the sur­veil­lance of jour­nal­ists. Snow­den had top-​secret clear­ance at an agency whose express mis­sion it is to gather com­mu­ni­ca­tions (“sig­nals intel­li­gence,” or sig­int) about America’s ene­mies. There is a world of dif­fer­ence between these two cat­e­gories, and my anten­nae detected this dif­fer­ence when I saw the quote from Snow­den prais­ing Army Pvt. Bradley Man­ning as “a clas­sic whistle­blower” who “was inspired by the pub­lic good.”

and Glenn Reynolds

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.

And that’s basi­cally the prob­lem under nor­mal cir­cum­stances I’d give a pass to the NSA as an orga­ni­za­tion that these peo­ple have ded­i­cated years to defend­ing this coun­try from ter­ror attacks.

But we have an admin­is­tra­tion that lives by “Chicago Val­ues” a pres­i­dent who claims to know noth­ing, and a press in bed with both of them.

Stacy is right that we have no evi­dence of this admin­is­tra­tion abus­ing PRISM, just like we didn’t have evi­dence of the IRS going after the tea party…right up until the moment we did.

This is what the Obama admin­is­tra­tion has done, like the Nixon admin­is­tra­tion it has taken action that destroys trust and with­out trust a repub­lic can’t stand. Stacy one more time

Gen. Keith Alexan­der says Snow­den is lying and so we have to ask our­selves who we believe, the career Army offi­cer who has ded­i­cated his entire life to defend­ing Amer­ica from its ene­mies, or the dropout gamer who is Glenn Greenwald’s new man-​crush?

I don’t blame Stacy McCain for believ­ing Alexan­der over Snow­den & Green­wald nor do I blame him trust­ing Gen­eral Alexan­der as a rule I trust him as well.

But I don’t trust the com­man­der in chief whose orders he is sworn to obey or that com­man­der in chief’s admin­is­tra­tion and I sub­mit and sug­gest any­one who does is a fool.

The entire debate about the NSA PRISM program comes down to these two different views from two people I respect:

Robert Stacy McCain

while the NSA’s access to phone and e-mail records raises Fourth Amendment concerns about potential abuse, there is no one who can point to an instance where actual abuse has occurred. So far as we know, no one has been arrested on the basis of illegally obtained information or targeted by the NSA because they’re on Obama’s Enemies List of political opponents.

Apparently, Glenn Greenwald’s idea to solve this problem was to present the world with Edward Snowden as the hero-victim, making him the symbol (as Greenwald saw it) of how the administration was punishing courageous truth-tellers. However, rational people (a category from which Greenwald long ago excluded himself) recognized this as problematic: Snowden wasn’t an IRS employee revealing important truths about unlawful political abuse of government power, or a DOJ staffer disclosing the surveillance of journalists. Snowden had top-secret clearance at an agency whose express mission it is to gather communications (“signals intelligence,” or sigint) about America’s enemies. There is a world of difference between these two categories, and my antennae detected this difference when I saw the quote from Snowden praising Army Pvt. Bradley Manning as “a classic whistleblower” who “was inspired by the public good.”

and Glenn Reynolds

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.

And that’s basically the problem under normal circumstances I’d give a pass to the NSA as an organization that these people have dedicated years to defending this country from terror attacks.

But we have an administration that lives by “Chicago Values” a president who claims to know nothing, and a press in bed with both of them.

Stacy is right that we have no evidence of this administration abusing PRISM, just like we didn’t have evidence of the IRS going after the tea party…right up until the moment we did.

This is what the Obama administration has done, like the Nixon administration it has taken action that destroys trust and without trust a republic can’t stand. Stacy one more time

Gen. Keith Alexander says Snowden is lying and so we have to ask ourselves who we believe, the career Army officer who has dedicated his entire life to defending America from its enemies, or the dropout gamer who is Glenn Greenwald’s new man-crush?

I don’t blame Stacy McCain for believing Alexander over Snowden & Greenwald nor do I blame him trusting General Alexander as a rule I trust him as well.

But I don’t trust the commander in chief whose orders he is sworn to obey or that commander in chief’s administration and I submit and suggest anyone who does is a fool.