I am increasingly in awe of what Edward Snowden, at great personal risk, has done for our country. One of the three original journalists to whom he gave documents, Barton Gellman, has written the following article for the Washington Post. Edward Snowden after months of NSA revelations says his missions accomplished/2013/12/24 Every American who cares about the future of our country should read it. I have blogged a number of times this year about Snowden if you would like to read more.
Some people confuse the technical and legal ability to collect personal information about targeted individuals under well-developed controls, with the data mining searches for needles in haystacks Snowden exposed. Here are just two of his statements from the article:
“I don’t care whether you’re the pope or Osama bin Laden. As long as there’s an individualized, articulable, probable cause for targeting these people as legitimate foreign intelligence, that’s fine. I don’t think it’s imposing a ridiculous burden by asking for probable cause. Because, you have to understand, when you have access to the tools the NSA does, probable cause falls out of trees.”
“I believe the cost of frank public debate about the powers of our government is less than the danger posed by allowing these powers to continue growing in secret,”
Snowden likened the NSA’s powers to those used by British authorities in Colonial America, when “general warrants” allowed for anyone to be searched. The FISA court, Snowden said, “is authorizing general warrants for the entire country’s metadata.”