#NSA Quote of the Day: Andrew McCarthy edition

June 10, 2013

Quotes, actually, as there are two from his latest post at NRO’s The Corner blog. Both, I think, reflect the way I’m leaning in the uproar over the NSA’s telephone record and Internet data collection program:

How are Americans supposed to rely on congressional oversight to keep the administration in check if the administration misleads Congress about what it is doing?

Which is a huge part of the problem the administration has defending these programs: having been shown repeatedly to be idiots at best and bald-faced liars at worst in scandal after scandal, how are Congress and the general public supposed to trust them now, even though they might actually be telling the truth about how the data is collected and used?

The fable of the boy who cried wolf endures for a reason, you know.

And then…

If politics were logical, we would say: “It is necessary to have awesome national security powers but they can only be trusted in the hands of honorable officials; since the officials we have cannot be trusted, we need to get new officials.” But politics is not logical: It is a lot easier to slash the powers we need than the officials we don’t. That is where this is headed, and I fear we’ll regret it. 

As I’ve been saying, “baby, bathwater.” This is my fear, too.

PS: McCarthy is a writer you should must have in your news reader. Even if you disagree with him, his arguments are always edifying and thought-provoking.


Quote of the Day: Mark Steyn edition

June 10, 2013

After observing that the US government issues so many security clearances that it couldn’t possibly properly vet them all:

One reason for the citizenry not to entrust its personal information to the government is that the big, bloated, blundering government is stupid enough to entrust it to Edward Snowden, as it was previously stupid enough to entrust it to Bradley Manning (the Wikileaks leaker). It’s only a matter of time before the halfwit leviathan entrusts it to a Major Hasan or a Tamerlan Tsarnaev. 

Quite.

(Do read the rest. Steyn is quotable in almost every paragraph he writes.)


Paging John LeCarre! #NSA leaker a Chinese agent?

June 10, 2013
"Would you believe..."

“Would you believe…?”

This is getting weirder and weirder, but, at the same time, tantalizingly plausible:

Former CIA case officer Bob Baer revealed on CNN Sunday evening that intelligence officials were possibly considering Edward Snowden’s case as Chinese espionage, after Snowden came forward this afternoon from an undisclosed Hong Kong location.

“Hong Kong is controlled by Chinese intelligence,” Baer said. “It’s not an independent part of China at all. I’ve talked to a bunch of people in Washington today, in official positions, and they are looking at this as a potential Chinese espionage case.”

“On the face of it, it looks like it is under some sort of Chinese control, especially with the president meeting the premier today,” Baer said. “You have to ask what’s going on. China is not a friendly country and every aspect of that country is controlled. So why Hong Kong? Why didn’t he go to Sweden? Or, if he really wanted to make a statement, he should have done it on Capitol Hill.”

When you think about it, the possibility of Snowden being used by Chinese intelligence is not at all unreasonable: the US news had been filled for months with items about Chinese hacker attacks and complaints about stolen data, and Obama was expected to bring this up at their summit here in California. Could he have been used by a Chinese “handler” to release this information when it would be both embarrassing to Obama and useful to China by cutting O’s legs out from under him at the summit? “Shut up, you guys are spying, too?” I’ve got no firm opinion about Snowden, himself, though, from what I’ve read, he does strike me as a immature narcissist who could be played by skilled operators. And what free-speech and civil liberties advocate who donates to Ron Paul would take refuge in China, of all places? (1)

There’s something really, really odd about this.

via Legal Insurrection

PS: I haven’t written much about these NSA revelations, the phone metadata collection and the information culling from Internet providers (PRISM), because there is so much to absorb and it has such profound implications for a free society that I think silence, on my part and for now, is better. I’ve seen too many outraged knees jerking, too much heat and not enough light, too much reaction and not enough reading; it makes me worry that, traumatized as we are by the IRS and Rosen scandals, etc., we may throw the “national security baby” out with the bathwater. For now, though, let me leave you with an article by Jonah Goldberg that best captures my thinking at the moment: healthy skepticism.

Footnote:
(1) Yeah, I know he is/was in Hong Kong, which is very free market and capitalist, but if you don’t believe Beijing pulls the strings of what goes on there, especially in an intelligence matter, I have a bridge for you.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)