Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Thursday, June 06, 2013

Liberty or Death or Something in Between

When it comes to privacy vs. security, are the only choices Glenn Greenwald and Lindsey Graham, two egomaniacal lawyers with no sense of balance?

Thanks to his latest hue and cry, TV talking heads are belaboring Greenwald’s “discovery” that “The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.”

To disentangle that scare scenario from reality is requiring bend-over-backward responses not only from the White House but such responsible figures as Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss, bipartisan leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to point out, without breaching security, that such activities go back over a decade to the Patriot Act and are severely limited in scope.

Since 9/11/01 we are living in a world where freedom and terror have been colliding constantly, with no clear answers on every question. Demagoguery on either side does not help.

Even such civil liberties stalwarts as Bill Moyers are taken aback at Greenwald’s absolutism. In a recent interview, when he railed at “reverence for military and political institutions” during the days following the Boston bombings, Moyers asked, “Couldn't it have been just relief? Relief that they had found the other guy? That they didn't have to go to bed that night wondering if another bomb would go off?”


Even further left, AlanDershowitz denounces “lies from Greenwald” about not targeting terrorism and accuses him of fomenting paranoia.

The National Security Council is staying up late responding to Greenwald’s latest hype. Surely those man-hours could be spent more productively on keeping the nation safe.

If we have to walk a tightrope between safety and civil liberties, couldn’t we have someone other than Greenwald and Lindsey Graham holding on to the ends?

1 comment:

Frank Shannon said...

I haven't written anything in a while, but I feel like I have to say something about the recent PRISM/NSA stories.

META: I think this is an improvement over the previous 3 bullshit Obama scandals. Even if its not really a scandal or even news really, it is still a story that deserves some attention.

I can't remember all the back story that I'm aware of but I do remember a bit. I first became aware of the general shape of the thing somewhere around 2005 I think. There was a POOR MAN post about data that also talked about people in the Bush administration threatening to resign over the, then without any legal cover, program and people trying to get Ashcroft to sign off on it in his sickbed.

In 2007 there was the washington post story about how the NSA had installed splitters in a trunk line (fiber optic) for sweeping up internet communications.

Which lead to my insight that maybe the NSA doesn't have a "back door" they just get copies of the latest proprietary software from facebook et al so that all that traffic they are sweeping up (ie all of it) makes more sense.