Prism Spying More About Secrecy Than Data
The real scandal in the NSA Prism revelations is not so much about what data is kept or the merits of how that may keep us safe.
The real issue is the fact that the whole program was kept so secret.
The US was founded on the principle that those who govern do so ONLY with the consent of the governed.
But it is impossible to give or withhold consent if the actions are secret.
The other very frightening part is the extent to which such programs can be abused.
Nixon used government secrecy to persecute people on his enemies list. And the jury is out on whether Obama has done the same. At the very least his campaign promise of transparency ring as hollow now as any other craven pol.
But history also shows that power corrupts. And if the power lacks oversight and transparency, the temptation for abuse usually proves irresistible.
As Congress begins its usual process of finger pointing, blaming, blathering, and posturing (to no end that benefits the republic) we need to remember that this issue is a vital one that should not be dismissed by them or by the Administration which is far more embarrassed it got caught than it is concerned over any actual security breaches.
As an investigative reporter in DC, I’ve broken my share of scandals and seen my share of classified documents that were secret not because of national security data, but because they were embarrassing to someone in power.
Just because some self-interested bureaucrat stamps something as classified does not mean that it merits that designation.
We need to remember that as the Obama administration moves to crucify the Prism whistleblower.