Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Scandal: That Whole Spying On Us Thing

I haven't written much about the whole NSA-spying-on-us thing, for a fairly good reason: I don't have a handle on it. Firstly, there's the fact that we've known that this was going on--to some degree--since deep into the Bush administration. Secondly, though the amount of surveillance seems to be egregious, it also seems like it was legally obtained. Such as "legal" is in these post-PATRIOT Act days. So, even putting "Scandal" as the banner of this post is maybe the wrong word. Maybe I need a new banner for "legal, but really rubs me the wrong way" stories.

Also--as often happens with breaking news and developing stories--the details keep shifting, and some of what has been said might not be altogether true. Por ejemplo:

Glenn Greenwald broke the NSA story. Image from
source, The Daily Banter.

NSA Bombshell Story Falling Apart Under Scrutiny; Key Facts Turning Out to Be Inaccurate

It turns out, the NSA PRISM story isn’t quite the bombshell that everyone said it was. Yes, there continues to be a serious cause for concern when it comes to government spying and overreach with its counter-terrorism efforts. But the reporting from Glenn Greenwald and the Washington Post has been shoddy and misleading. . .

Read more at:  The Daily Banter

Now, that is an opinion piece, and as such may not be the whole story either. But it would be wise not to come out with a full-bore, angry opinion piece without really knowing what the facts are, right? Also, much like the other "scandals" we've been dealing with, involving now not just the NSA but the Justice Department, the IRS and State Department, we've got a question of how high does it go? Does any of this come from the Executive Branch? How autonomous are our myriad government agencies? How secret is secret? Do these things span presidencies regardless of who is in power? Should they?

And what about the whistleblower/leaker? This Edward Snowden guy, who didn't graduate high school, and was working for a contractor had access to all of this sensitive information? Why? My first thoughts on this guy were a) kinda cute [sue me], b) awfully young, and c) sounds like he's exaggerating. Notice his phrasing, in how he could have "wiretapped" anybody he chose. He speaks in the hypothetical. My main thought with this guy, is how do we know he isn't vastly overstating things, drawing conclusions based on office chatter, maybe even bragging? I'm not the only one with questions about Snowden:

But should we stand with Snowden? I'm not sure.
There's a thin line between "whistleblower" and "traitor."
Image from source, CBC.

NSA data leaker Edward Snowden polarizes observers

Since allowing The Guardian and The Washington Post to reveal his identity on Sunday, the 29-year-old contractor has been described as everything from “a national hero [who] should be immediately issued a full, free, and absolute pardon” to “a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison. . .”

Read more at: CBC

And so, I don't think I know enough about this to get overly energized about it, but I recognize that it's a hugely important story. I think it raises a lot of questions, and--as with all the other scandal-ettes of recent weeks--could be used to reign in, or even prune some government agencies, and maybe make things better. Isn't that what government is really supposed to do? The only way for that to happen is to pay attention, and demand action. We've just got to be clear on the facts first.

1 comment:

  1. When I heard about his bragging interview yesterday and his (some analysts thought naive) reasons for seeking refuge in Hong Kong, my cynical nature wondered if he hoped to sell his services to the Chinese. Today we learn that he's checked out of his Hong Kong hotel. I wonder if he's already gone to the mainland.


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