Government in no-win situation
Published: Thursday, June 13th, 2013
In a development that has given new meaning to Verizon’s “share everything plan,” U.S. citizens have slowly learned over the past few weeks that the National Security Agency and FBI have been tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, emails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets.
According to the Washington Post, the program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley.
Eric Snowden, a 29-year-old man who says he is a former undercover CIA employee, has come out as the source of the disclosures about top-secret National Security Agency programs. It’s safe to say Snowden is going to prison for the rest of his life for exposing top secret government programs. Ask Robert Hanssen how the government looks upon such people. The Obama Administration has to throw the book at Snowden, to prevent other such whistleblowers who could do serious damage to our national security from giving up even more secrets. The administration is in a tricky spot.
The question is, how much of our privacy are we willing to give up in order to prevent future terrorist attacks? Don’t think for a second the government spying on its citizens is something new. Don’t think for a second this is a Democrat or Republican issue. As long as there has been a government, there have been government officials spying on our privacy. Both sides of the aisle have done it, and both sides of the aisle are outraged by it.
“I don’t look at this as being a whistle-blower,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said. “I think it’s an act of treason.”
“I hope we follow Mr. Snowden to the ends of the earth to bring him to justice,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said.
Government programs like this really gained momentum after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, beginning with George Bush signing the Patriot Act in October of 2001. Roving wire taps, rifling through our personal lives, eavesdropping on everything—it became the norm, with the justification it was needed to prevent Sept. 11 from happening again. And, for the most part, it has worked. Dozens of similar plots have been thwarted, thanks in no small part to these domestic spying programs.
You can rest assured, if these programs didn’t exist and a terrorist plot that could have been thwarted unfolded on American soil again, people would be outraged. “Why isn’t the government spying on these people?” would be the cry.
Whether you think Snowden is a criminal the likes of Benedict Arnold or a hero exposing government corruption, we conclude there is no easy solution. This is one situation where the government is damned if it does, and damned if it doesn’t.
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