Once we established the supposedly constitutional right to abortion, grounded in the right to privacy, it was just a matter of time before the genuine right to privacy came apart in our hands. A nation that does not know what privacy is can hardly protect it. You can’t guard what you can’t define.
The NSA surveillance program, on paper, works like this. They vacuum up all this data, and store it in cyber-bins, and then, if something in the computer searches of the metadata arises that makes them want to peek into one of the bins, they have to go to a (secret) court to get permission to do so. Feel better?
Even if this were a good idea, which it isn’t, the reason this scandal is so damaging is that has come hard on the heels of a series of other revelations, all of them demonstrating that the government simply cannot be trusted with the information they have on you.
Never forget that Obama got his start in national politics by arranging to have the sealed court documents in his senatorial opponent’s divorce case made public. And the DOJ lied to one of those safeguard courts about James Rosen being a co-conspirator in a leak case, and they lied so that they could then rummage through all his stuff at will. And the acknowledged IRS abuses show that the IRS systematically targeted political opponents of the president in their reviews of applications for 501(c)4 status. That is bad enough, but we also have the widespread allegations that the IRS has also been targeting political opponents of the president with audits. This tactic has, in principle, someone facing prison time simply because he donated money to the Romney campaign. Welcome to the new America, kid.
Now the defense of the NSA’s activity is that in order to “protect Americans” they have to “collect” all this metadata, put it on the shelf, and then if probable cause ever arises in the case of a particular somebody, they go off to get a warrant to look into the box they already have stored on the premises, all convenient like. And we believe this, why? If they didn’t go get that warrant, who would know? How trustworthy have they been with our data so far? Not at all, you say? Ah.
But they have internal safeguards! Ah, but that’s where they make their blunder. They are asking me to trust them, and I don’t. I don’t want internal safeguards. I want external safeguards.
And besides, who was in charge of these internal safeguards? Edward Snowden?