I used to work with an old timer who always shied away from controversial subjects, but that didn't mean that he didn't have an opinion. He would always call one of us to an isolated corner and say, “between you, me and the fence post” and then he would go on and state his views. I thought about the old timer when the NSA surveillance controversy came up. I believe a lot of people are withholding their opinion until all the facts surface. I also believe the people don't expect and sometimes, don't want the NSA to divulge all their secrets. Threading that line is difficult at best.
The NSA surveillance issue is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for libertarians, some liberals and the ACLU. There's no doubt that there are some things we can do to ease the fears of those who think that the methods used by NSA are unconstitutional. As it stands, by 56 to 62% are in favor of trading some privacy for security. The fact that there's no opposition to a warrant because the FISA court has been reluctant to turn down any request, is a big problem. I never liked the idea of allowing the government to wiretap first and then ask for a search warrant within a 72-hour period. You can under no circumstances convince me that issuing a million top secret clearances will make us safer; that just creates more people like Edward Snowden. The idea that 1/3 of the top-secret clearances are issued to private contractors terrifies me. The bow tie wearing bureaucratic nerd, who stays in on Saturday night, is the one I want to guard our secrets. I want career spooks who know that what they are doing is vital to our national security. A career employee who becomes a whistle blower has a lot more credibility than a naïve contract mired in ideology does.
The NSA has a $13 billion budget; however, the agency does not have systems in place that prevented a three-month employee from stealing secret documents, including an active court order. I'm still not sure why the government allows the Guardian and the Washington Post to keep those documents. What's to keep those documents from falling into our enemy's hands? If you want to understand how powerful and influential, these spying programs are, check out today's article about the program at Wired. com.
Last night, Lawrence O'Donnell interviewed a friend of Edward Snowden, named Mavanee Anderson. She said that Mr. Snowden obtained his top-secret clearance because he was an IT genius. Ms. Anderson said that Snowden was deeply disturbed at what he saw as a CIA IT analyst. Edward Snowden had to be a pretty naïve individual because before his CIA stint, he joined the army to liberate the Iraqis. You can bet from the first day of boot camp, he was told that he was going to learn how to kill Arabs. Boot camp has been and will always be a reprogramming technique that turns civilians into lean, mean, fighting machines and indoctrinates those individuals into a system of blind obeisance. That's just between you, me and the fence post.
This issue is not about politics or President Obama, but it is about future presidents and the power they will have. Congress and the will of the people are the only ones who can approve or disapprove of the methods used by NSA. The ACLU cans argue the constitutionality of the programs in place, but we can't expect the government to support their claims that these programs make us safer because of the secrecy involved. The government depends on citizens to trust outfits like Facebook, Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo and Google because they are the catalysts that allow their systems to work. We have already given up a lot of our privacy, and it would be naïve to think that someone wouldn't have use for the data. Maybe the government could warn us that the expectation of privacy vanishes once you enter the cyberspace. Perhaps software companies can embed a warning similar to the ones what’re on cigarette packages. How many of you actually read your End User Subscription Agreement (EUSA) when you download software?
The problem is that the government surveillance programs are too big, and they will keep getting bigger as technology grows, and we don't have enough qualified, dedicated employees it takes to keep the system running smoothly.
Unfortunately, the noise made by some Libertarians such as Ron and Rand Paul prevent us from having an important debate. Ron Paul said that it wouldn't surprise him if our country killed Edward Snowden with an armed drone. Rand Paul said that the government could embed a GPS signal into our watches to alert them when a citizen went to a gun show. Those statements are just to elicit campaign funds because they sure don't do anything to enhance the dialogue that we should be having. Some liberal legislators are complaining because they felt that they were not told how intrusive some of these programs are. Like I said, the programs have been around for ages, and if it was not for Edward Snowden, a lot of legislators would not be asking the questions that they are today. The government should not take the American people for granted and should look for ways to be more transparent without jeopardizing their effectiveness.