Don't Insult Our Intelligence, Mr. President: This Debate Wouldn't Be Happening Without Ed Snowden
from the the-big-joke dept
One of the more ridiculous claim’s during President Obama’s press conference on NSA surveillance today was the claim that he had already started this process prior to the Ed Snowden leaks and that it’s likely we would end up in the same place. While he admitted that Snowden may have “accelerated” the process, he’s also claiming that the leaks put our national security at risk. There is, of course, little to support any of this. Tim Lee has the best response to this so far, noting that it’s clearly bogus that this debate would have happened without Snowden:
… the Obama administration showed little interest in subjecting the NSA to meaningful oversight and public debate prior to Snowden’s actions. When Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked for a “ballpark figure” of the number of Americans whose information was being collected by the NSA last year, the agency refused to give the senator any information, arguing that doing so would violate the privacy of those whose information was collected.
In March, at a Congressional hearing, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper answered “no sir” when Wyden asked whether the NSA had collected “any type of data at all on millions of Americans.” We now know his statement was incorrect.
Wyden and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) had also been pressing for almost four years for access to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s legal opinions interpreting Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Until Snowden’s disclosures, the senators made no headway. Now, the Obama administration has announced it intends to release its legal interpretation of Section 215.
As Lee’s colleague Ezra Klein points out in response, the fact that Obama is still attacking Snowden is simply ridiculous.
“What makes us different from other countries is not simply our ability to secure our nation,” Obama said. “It’s the way we do it, with open debate and democratic process.”
If that’s so, then Edward Snowden should be hailed as a hero. There’s simply no doubt that his leaks led to more open debate and more democratic process than would’ve existed otherwise.
Or, in the shortest possible form, NY Times’ reporter Binyamin Appelbaum summed it up thusly:
Obama is really mad at Edward Snowden for forcing us patriots to have this critically important conversation.
This is an important discussion, but President Obama has had five years to have it, and has actively resisted it at multiple key opportunities to do so. To pretend that any of this would have happened without Snowden is ridiculous. At the same time, to insist that people who care about our civil liberties are patriots, while still trying to attack and demonize Snowden, just screams of insincerity on the issue. Snowden should be proud: he did this to start the debate and to create change, and it appears that’s happening. But President Obama should be ashamed to pretend that this would have happened without Snowden. It’s insulting the intelligence of the American public.