Is Edward Snowden a whistleblower or a leaker? This story still has a lot of gray areas. For now, he’s something like a whistle-leaker. To some people, Snowden is a hero
, to others he is a traitor. To most Americans, he’s the guy whose face in on CNN when they’re looking for information on the Michael Jackson trial. Snowden has fled to Hong Kong. At least he’s in the kind of business where he can do his job over the internet.
Edward Snowden was a private contractor. If we learn nothing else from this whole thing, it’s that national security shouldn’t be farmed out to contractors
. It’s bad enough that we have private contractors fighting our wars. I don’t want private companies in charge of our national security. I don’t trust private companies to bill me correctly—I’m not going to trust them to stop terrorism. No more contractors! If someone is working for the NSA, I want them to be vetted by the government—not by the HR department at some company called Booz Allen Hamilton
Total surveillance is not an American thing. It’s more the kind of thing that you associate with East Germany or the Soviet Union. And neither of those is around anymore—which gives you an idea just how well total surveillance works. If it did work, the NSA would still be keeping tabs on East Germany and the Soviet Union.
There are some significant differences between surveillance programs under Barack Obama and under George Bush. For starters, George Bush’s surveillance program
was under George Bush. We can disagree about what the rules on surveillance ought to be, but you can depend on Obama to follow the rules—almost as much as you could count on Bush to break the rules. Under Bush, the NSA was conducting surveillance on Americans in America—surveillance that was not court-approved. The Bush NSA program was everything that this latest NSA program is not.
Some people need to calm down a bit. This is something that needs to be carefully scrutinized. It’s hard to properly scrutinize when you’re screaming. We need to take a good look at what is going on... just like the NSA has to take a good look at what is going on. The trick in both cases is deciding just how much of a look is “good.” Before people get too upset, they should realize that nobody is actually listening to phone calls. President Obama said that
. Of course, the fact that Obama said it is what is upsetting some people. There are two types of people who are really worked up over this—Obama supporters who don’t think Obama is doing enough, and Obama-haters who think Obama is doing too much.
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