The Washington Post is running a terrific article in which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden explains why he revealed how far the NSA and other federal agencies had gone toward constructing a national security surveillance state. Short answer: Because it's unconstitutional. The Post interviewed Snowden for 14 hours in Moscow and he comes off much better than the pack of liars who run the NSA or the enablers who "oversee" its activities in Congress or in the Administration.
And by liars, I mean Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who lied to Congress about the NSA's bulk collection of data involving essentially every American's phone calls. By liars, I mean NSA Director Keith Alexander, and Congressional Intelligence Committee chairs Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) who all claimed that the massive phone surveillance program was crucial to disrupting more than 50 terrorist attacks.
In June, President Obama described the NSA's bulk data collection as a "circumscribed, narrow" program that thwarted at least 50 terror threats. "Lives have been saved," asserted the president.
In fact, the new report from President' Obama's handpicked review committee earlier this week flatly said that the NSA's dragnet spying program was "not essential to preventing attacks" and that "there has been no instance in which NSA could say with confidence that the outcome [of a terror investigation] would have been any different" without the program.
From the Post article:
"For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission's already accomplished," [Snowden] said. "I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn't want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself."
"All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed," he said…
The pack of liars accuses Snowden of breaking his oath to the NSA and calls him a traitor who should be hanged.
"The oath of allegiance is not an oath of secrecy," he said. "That is an oath to the Constitution. That is the oath that I kept that Keith Alexander and James Clapper did not."
Correct. The Post further reports:
Snowden is an orderly thinker, with an engineer's approach to problem-solving. He had come to believe that a dangerous machine of mass surveillance was growing unchecked. Closed-door oversight by Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was a "graveyard of judgment," he said, manipulated by the agency it was supposed to keep in check. Classification rules erected walls to prevent public debate.
Toppling those walls would be a spectacular act of transgression against the norms that prevailed inside them. Someone would have to bypass security, extract the secrets, make undetected contact with journalists and provide them with enough proof to tell the stories.
The NSA's business is "information dominance," the use of other people's secrets to shape events. At 29, Snowden upended the agency on its own turf.
"You recognize that you're going in blind, that there's no model," Snowden said, acknowledging that he had no way to know whether the public would share his views….
Six months ago, a reporter asked him by encrypted e-mail why Americans would want the NSA to give up bulk data collection if that would limit a useful intelligence tool.
"I believe the cost of frank public debate about the powers of our government is less than the danger posed by allowing these powers to continue growing in secret," he replied, calling them "a direct threat to democratic governance."
In the Moscow interview, Snowden said, "What the government wants is something they never had before," adding: "They want total awareness. The question is, is that something we should be allowing?"
Snowden likened the NSA's powers to those used by British authorities in Colonial America, when "general warrants" allowed for anyone to be searched. The FISA court, Snowden said, "is authorizing general warrants for the entire country's metadata." …
The difference with the NSA's possession of the data, Snowden said, is that government has the power to take away life or freedom.
At the NSA, he said, "there are people in the office who joke about, 'We put warheads on foreheads.' Twitter doesn't put warheads on foreheads."
It is way the past time for Clapper and Alexander to be fired and tried for lying to Congress and to the American people. Congress should act immediately on legislation to restore Fourth Amendment protections against government agents spying on Americans.
The whole Post article is well worth your attention and outrage.
I'll say it again: Thank you Edward Snowden.
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