Hypothetical: In a parallel universe where, as chief executive, Obama refused to use the full power of the patriot act and tied the (many octopus-like) hands of the NSA behind its back and let's also assume that they still got Bin Laden anyway (who knows if the two were even related) would we still have Democrat in the Whitehouse or would the "military-industrial-intelligence-complex" have caused the president so many problems that they could have convinced enough people that he was "weak on terror" -- or something?
In other words, Obama said he did not agree with the Patriot act before he went in to office. But he's done nothing to reign it in. How you view this has a lot to do with if you like him or not. I tend to view it as yet another Democrat who is trying to prove they are a "tough patriot" --this really gets old. Why don't Republicans have to do that?
I was in a minority of liberal persons who strongly supported spying as a means of war. I did not support the patriot act, however, since it lacked the kind of transparency such a program would require. Intelligence seems like the only sane way to fight terrorism. But, if the system is unchecked it could be way too easy to be abused. For political spying, the kind that keeps one-party regiems in operation.
I really think we need to totally rethink the nature and even the existence of privacy in a modern world. Most people are highly resistant to even talking about this.
I'm not saying that "I have nothing to hide" and therefore do not care, I have things that I hide, but I also have a far more realistic awareness of what can be hidden and how to hide it than most people in my parent's generation. I also know when not to bother, and when there is more to be gained by sharing. I think a lot of people think about the cameras that watch us on every street corner and they think "ORWELL" and don't get any further than that. But, as counterintuitive as it seems, the answer is not less spying but more. More cameras, more surveillance, and as much of it being public as possible. This is the only cure. We should be putting cameras up ourselves and collecting our own information rather than begging for others to stop. We should gather our own metadata and use it!
That's why I'm thrilled to see the guts exposed, but I really hope more people pay attention. This isn't an issue with just two sides. It's not a matter of traitor or hero.
But I still want a powerful NSA, I want them to have lots and lots of data to sift through. I want them to be able to do their best to find the people who are intent on hurting others simply to make a political point. I don't not want to live in a country where only corporations can do this.
And I would like to know much more about the whole process, if not while it's happening at least after the deals are done, an autopsy, if you will. There is a line that I think it's becoming clear that the NSA crossed the difference between the contents of an email and the header. The difference between what was said in a call and the number dialed. But, so many people blur these things, and it make it hard to pin point the real wrong doing. And that's what we need most.
Even if it isn't really illegal based on the patriot act if it was wrong and it happened our courts should sort it out. Mr. Snowden could help with this process by providing the names of some innocent American citizens who had the content of their phone calls or emails exposed without reasonable suspicion. Then those people could bring a case.
I was think Mr. Snowden would go on trial and we get that autopsey. Then the NSA could be repaired an improved and our laws could mature a bit to better fit the information age. Instead we have chaos, for now.
Mr. Snowden seems happy to make it really easy for everyone to call him an enemy of the USA. (Which is really too melodramatic, don't you think?)