The Good, the Bad and the NSA Surveillance Program

When I first heard of Edward Snowden’s leaking of intelligence regarding the surveillance state in America, one of my first thoughts was, you mean people really didn’t already suspect this?

Almost right out of the gate, the term ‘traitor’ showed up…and it has continued to show up.  Mild consternation on my part soon became a ‘considering the possibility’ that Snowden’s actions were not those of a patriot.  Perhaps simply because this seed was planted, I now am more than just considering this view.  Every time I look at this guy, I don’t like the vibe that I am getting.  And I know that, legally, a gut feeling or an impression wouldn’t stand in court.  But for this writer, the jury is already back…

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Debates are proliferating on the rightness and the Constitutionality of this particular NSA surveillance program.  Immediate outcry was heard across the land.  Outrage, or at least righteous indignation made its voice clearly and repeatedly heard.

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My purpose in writing this post is not so much to lay out evidence & opinion, but to point out a particular behavior that seems patriotic but may only muddy the waters.  And result in more damage.  I am not referring just to the actions Edward Snowden took, or the motives that may have led up to it.  I am referring more so to some of our own reactions to the surveillance programs he exposed.

Not only in this case but in so many others, I have often found myself holding back from jumping on everybody’s bandwagon, accusing, declaring vociferously, etc., etc.  Even organizations and journalists/leaders/speakers I support don’t always get my support! A niggling suspicion causes pause.  I wait.  Sometimes I let the issue pass, because I just am not sure.  I don’t know enough.  There is too much to know, in order to know enough.

But some just start shootin’.

During a discussion about the support of the American public for these surveillance programs, General Michael Hayden (former NSA and CIA Director), spoke of an American  tendency “…to rush the story to the darkest corner of the room” , in reporting these kinds of matters.   My thought is, aren’t we always doing this?  Not just in national security & privacy concerns, but in everyday situations as well?   Aren’t we so easily jumping to the worst case scenario, so quick to blame and point fingers?  We, the media, We, the bloggers, We the People!  Maybe not 100% of us, but enough of us to potentially thwart truth.

General Hayden then went into some basic specifics & differences concerning data collection that shined a flashlight into that dark corner.  Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Mike Rogers, both Intelligence Committee Chairs who approved the

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss on Capitol Hill, address NSA collection of Verizon phone records

program, also shed some very rational light on it (‘This Week with George Stephanopoulos’)  

Mention has been made several times of the efficacy of this program in preventing attacks on our homeland.  One in particular has been declassified and is public knowledge: Najibullah Zazi, who plotted and prepared with a number of others to blow up a New York subway, but was surveilled & arrested by the FBI instead.  He pled guilty and is now in federal prison.  “…this was the key piece that allowed us to stop a bombing in the New York Subway system”, points out Congressman Rogers.

Lest someone say, ‘yeah, well that’s just one instance’, it should be known that almost all other instances of plots disrupted & attacks prevented remain classified. The American public has no idea how much good this program has achieved, according to Senator Feinstein.

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Any thinking individual should easily enough see the connection between our national security versus revealing certain intelligence information. Let me underscore that here –

“…if you tell our adversaries and enemies in the counterterrorism fight exactly how we conduct business, they are not going to {conduct} business the same ever again. It makes it more difficult.”  (Congressman Mike Rogers)

“…you give up operational capacity the more these programs are known…what I fear Al Qaeda learns about this program is not what we’re allowed to do, but they learn what we’re not allowed to do… they learn the limits of the program.”  (General Michael Hayden)

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…so I guess my continuing question & thought is, given that we often don’t have all the facts (and may not intend to search any of them out), why the rush to the dark side, wherein blame, accusation & ignorance may flourish?

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“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing; but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.”

(Proverbs 25:2)

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