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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

 
The Big Fix

by digby

The Obama administration has offered up its NSA "fix" at the same time that the proposed GOP House reform plan is leaked to the press, so we have an idea of what the parameters of the NSA debate are going to be. From what I gather, as you might expect, the administration's fixes are a slight improvement (possibly) over the status quo while the Republican plan actually makes things worse.  I'd guess that the Villagers will all proclaim that somewhere in the middle --- aka the status quo --- would be juuust right.

I won't go into the details here because Emptywheel is doing her usual thorough job of breaking it all down. Suffice to say that it's complicated. But all of this points out the vital importance of the Snowden leaks. The government is forced to confront the fact that these programs were outpacing its own understanding of the implications and the citizenry is at least aware of the implications.  If things proceed as they normally do, we'll probably see much of what we object to "legalized" in some way and the best we can hope for is a record of what's been done and to register at least some objection from those who care about civil liberties.  It may give the overseers some temporary courage and could crate at least a little restraint for a while.

But let's not overlook another benefit of these leaks that even the veriest Snowden/Greenwald hater should be able to acknowledge: the government would not understand just how insecure their programs are or be aware that someone unlike Snowden, who actually did have hostility to American interests or a desire to use their access to make money for themselves, could easily have accessed this information for truly nefarious purposes and no one would be the wiser. Knowing that seems quite valuable, especially since our history is rife with examples of real spies who didn't give their information to the press in the name of civil liberties but but rather sold it to foreign governments.  (Like this fine fellow.  A staunch conservative, by the way.)

Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd assured me that this was going nowhere but that the President will be fine because he's tossed the hot potato to congress.  Chuck did point out that people in Europe care about this more than the US so that explains why he's doing it now.  But he shrugged and said that the congress will not act and neither will the president because ... well, just because.  So there you have it.


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