Sunday, June 30, 2013

My Usual Dilemma: I can see both sides of the argument.

These days probably no one is in the news more often than Edward Snowden. Snowden is either a demon or a hero, depending upon the side of his escapades with which one sympathizes. Some people, including me, are caught on the horns of a dilemma – we see merit in both sides.
First let me say that the United States is a nation of laws, and lawbreakers must be punished. Snowden must pay the consequences of his actions.
One commits civil disobedience in order to be punished. By so doing, one calls attention to the injustice one is protesting, thus garnering popular support for reform. By fleeing to nations somewhat cool to the U.S. interests, Snowden has given the government backing in the effort to demonize him. Thus the full force of his disclosures is blunted – attention is called to his actions and turned away from the object of his protest: our government is spying on us.
Which begs the question: Why are so many people, including many liberals, not upset about the object of Snowden’s disclosures? Let me repeat it loud and clear: Our government is spying on us. When one makes a telephone call, or sends an email, somewhere within the confines of the NSA’s headquarters that call is being recorded.
According to the government, only so-called metadata, the calling and receiving telephone numbers, the time of day and other innocuous data is being recorded. Perhaps so, but we have only the government’s word for this, and that word is becoming more suspect all the time. Even if true there is no guarantee that more personal data will not be recorded in the future.
The government also assures us that the data will be used only for discovering and subverting terrorist plots. And again, even if this is true at the present time, who can promise that no government bureaucracy will ever decide that some opposing movement constitutes a terrorist plot, and use the information as a weapon?
As to the threats that have already been uncovered, it appears that the metadata was brought in to play only after the terrorist activity was discovered by conventional methods. Would the activity have been prevented even though the metadata was not available? The government isn’t telling us.
According to Amendment V of the Constitution: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. Perhaps the Constitution does not apply to the government.
Snowden should receive at least a slap on the wrist, and then get a medal.

 My books, “There Are Only Seven Jokes” and “The Spirit Runs Through It” are available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.