There’s only one relevant point to the argument, and it’s made in the Preamble to this nation’s foundational document, the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . .
The logic is simple: just powers only come with the consent of those over whom they’re exercised.
But esnl doesn’t recall consenting to the government arrogating to itself the power to monitor the most private thinking of every one of us who uses a telephone or connects to the Internet — indispensable adjuncts of human relationship in the course of daily life in this world of ours. Nor did we consent to the photographing of the exteriors of every single piece of mail we get, data to be stored away for if and when.
We have an absolute right to know of the existence of such a program, nowhere more evident than in the ways millions of people will be altering the ways threy communicate, ever conscious that other eyes may be watching, other ears hearing.
The full and free flow of ideas is the beating heart of democracy.
A paranoid, self-censoring citizenry is dystopian, and profoundly anti-democratic, but such is the populace Barack Obama would give us.
The “terror” cited as justification for our Orwellian world is largely a direct result of our own government’s meddling. We armed and inspired the folks who became the Taliban and Al Queda to use them against the Soviets, and we have long empowered the most oppressive regimes in the Gulf states, all the better to keep that oil flowing our way.
And when the violence backfires, more violence follows in other lands and more repression and surveillance happens at home.
Edward Snowden made us indelibly aware of how we are perceived by those who hold the reins of government. Each of us is a suspect, waiting to be confirmed by metadata and the contents of our digital communications.
We have a right to know that, and Edward Snowden was right to blow the whistle. We owe him thanks, not prison.