RE: Obama’s, “You can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience,” is a strawman. No one is advocating for either 100% security or 100% privacy with 0% inconvenience.
What Edward Snowden demonstrated quite adequately is that the balance between security and privacy is so grotesquely skewed that the very principles of our founding are being trampled by an increasingly police state. Start with what is labeled as Secret and Top Secret. Bradley Manning revealed a lot of “Secret and Top Secret” communications but the outstanding characteristic of most of it is that it is embarrassing to US government officials. It wasn’t sensitive data. It wasn’t the names of secret CIA operatives (like the vindictive Cheney, et al, revealed in 2003). It was embarrassing and a lot of the data revealed actions that are international CRIMES against civilian populations by US troops and their commanders. Has the US moved to prosecute ANY of those high-ranking military criminals? No. But hey, let’s put a lowly private away for life. That should stop others from making similar revelations. Did you know that in Feb, 2013, Pvt Manning plead guilty to 10 charges which had the offer been accepted would have resulted in his serving 20 years in federal prison but the Army refused the deal, prefering to try for a life sentence? And remember. His “crime” wasn’t compromising US security. It was embarrassing people whose communications were so far from “secret” as to be ludicrous and exposing criminal violations by our US military. In my book, those aren’t crimes that Manning should go to jail for. He is a whistleblower, pure and simple, and the Army didn’t like being revealed as murderers and liars.
According to Snowden himself he “had full access to the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community, and undercover assets all around the world … I, sitting at my desk, certainly have the authorities to wiretap anyone – from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President.” Yet what did he reveal?
1) That the US government, without obtaining any warrants, ROUTINELY collects phone logs of millions of Americans who have no link to terrorism.
2) The NSA sweeps and keeps massive amounts of user data and communications from Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Skype.
3) There exists an NSA tracking program called “Boundless Informant” which in March, 2013, alone collected over 97 billion pieces of information from computer networks worldwide, 3 billion of which came from US-based networks.
4) Both James Clapper, Obama’s director of National Intelligence and General Keith Alexander, director of the NSA lied to Congress when they stated multiple times, in Congressional hearings, that the NSA does not collect ANY TYPE OF DATA on hundreds of millions of Americans [emphasis mine] and that the NSA does not have the capability to intercept e-mails and other online communications here in the United States.
5) He, Snowden said, “If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.”
So who is Edward Snowden? He is another whistleblower. A man who gave up his career and who could well be on Obama’s hit list, to tell us Americans how their government is spying on each and every one of us.
I think they are both heroes and that it is a travesty that either of them should be in a position to spend the rest of their lives in prison.