Monday, June 17, 2013

Say it ain't so, Josh

Josh Marshall was the first political blogger that I started reading, so it disappoints me to hear this from him regarding the Edward Snowden story:
Who gets to decide? The totality of the officeholders who've been elected democratically - for better or worse - to make these decisions? Or Edward Snowden, some young guy I've never heard of before who espouses a political philosophy I don’t agree with and is now seeking refuge abroad for breaking the law? I don’t have a lot of problem answering that question.
Given the stories that Josh has covered over the years, including breaking the states attorneys scandal under George W. Bush, I'm shocked that he's so willing to trust our elected officials to keep check on the intelligence community.

Snowden's leak proved that James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, flat out lied to congress when asked about the collection of data on American citizens. So, how can we trust congress to oversee the intelligence agencies when we can't trust those agencies to reveal the truth to congress? It's not like this is the first time that intelligence officials have lied to congress. Iran-Contra anyone? And even when not deliberately lying, our intelligence agencies get things spectacularly wrong. Anyone found those Iraqi WMD's yet?

Furthermore, there's very little evidence that congress has any interest in providing real oversight. Just like congress defers matters of war to the president, they don't want to know too much about our spying programs, otherwise they could be held accountable when inevitable leaks like this occur. This enables them to play all the angles--point fingers, feign outrage, or pound their chests depending on their constituency.

The administration, the intelligence agencies, and congress now disingenuously claim that they welcome a national debate about surveillance versus privacy, but it was Snowden, not them, that initiated the discussion. It simply wasn't going to happen without his leak forcing the issue. So, to me, criticizing his methodology is admitting that he'd prefer everyone be kept in the dark, which is a strange preference for a political reporter.

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