|You've got nothing to hide, right?|
Edward Snowden, the self-revealed whistle-blower at the National Security Agency, explains that part of the reason he decided to come forward was because President Obama did not roll back the surveillance measures put into place by the Bush Administration.Of course he continued with the policies of his predecessor. It was silly to believe he would do anything different. If you believe that government should be large enough to solve intractable problems, you have to make your peace with a state that is large enough to identify anyone who gets in the way, or could potentially get in the way. There's no such thing as a big government libertarian.
“A lot of people in 2008 voted for Obama. I did not vote for him. I voted for a third party,” Snowden said in an interview with the Guardian. “But I believed in Obama’s promises. I was going to disclose it [but waited because of his election]. He continued with the policies of his predecessor.”
It's all very disappointing for those who love Big Government. Consider Ron Fournier, who shares his distress in a column for the National Journal:
I like government. I don't like what the fallout from these past few weeks might do to the public's faith in it.So much for that notion. Fournier does an excellent job at cataloging the ways his faith has been undermined in recent weeks and it's worth hitting the link to read. Meanwhile, a few thoughts:
First, you don't need to be a liberal Democrat to root for government efficiency, transparency and solvency. Even tea party conservatives expect certain things from Washington: a strong military; pensions and health care for the aged; student and small-business loans; safe food and drugs; secure borders; and, of course, federal police protection against terrorists, both foreign and domestic.
The core argument of President Obama's rise to power, and a uniting belief of his coalition of young, minority and well-educated voters, is that government can do good things -- and do them well.
- Is Snowden a hero? Or is he a traitor? You could argue it either way and probably be right. The larger question is whether the government he has certainly betrayed is worth defending.
- We argue a lot about the First and Second Amendments in our normal discourse. Meanwhile, the Fourth Amendment is in tatters right now. It's worth remembering the specific language of the Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. I don't know how you square the NSA database with the plain meaning of the Fourth Amendment.
- As Ann Althouse points out, this issue has made temporary allies out of Glenn Beck and Daniel Ellsberg, who played the Snowden role in the Pentagon Papers case during the Nixon era. I suspect this tells you more about Beck than it does about Ellsberg.
- The larger point is one that Gino made in a comment on the blog over the weekend -- it is the nature of government to expand and protect itself. We shouldn't have been surprised that the government would attempt to build something like the NSA database. What ought to happen is that we stop and ask if it's wise for the government to aggregate that much information. But my guess is that we'll go back to sleep and talk about something else.