I haven’t weighed in on the NSA-phone records-Edward Snowden debate yet, in part because I have been waiting to see what other information Snowden releases. But now that President Obama has given a speech on the collection of phone and internet data, and announced changes to the program, I felt the need to comment.
There are things government spying agencies need to keep secret. But when those secret activities violate the rights of Americans, we need a whistle-blower. Snowden may have taken and still reveal documents that truly jeopardize national interests, which would be unfortunate. And maybe there were better ways he could have blown the whistle on the NSA. But for revealing the secret collection of Americans phone and internet communications, Snowden is to be commended.
Concerning President Obama’s recent changes:
– I have concerns about any one man making decisions about national security programs. The appropriate Congressional committees should be involved to include a variety of viewpoints for consideration.
– The idea of a third party holding the collected metadata is ridiculous. That certainly would open more doors for hacking and misuse. The plan also does not get around the Constitutional issues – the third party would just be a government shill, acting on the governments’ orders.
– Appointing advocates to represent citizens’ privacy interests before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is a good idea, as long as those people come from a wide range of different ethnic, economic and political groups. Appointing anyone with government or political connections would likely just rubberstamp the government/NSA position.