Tuesday, June 11, 2013

We're having the wrong argument about domestic surveillance

I'm about done with Edward Snowden barring any new corrected information but let's review for a moment the earliest reports about Snowden's revelations:

"All my options are bad," he said. The US could begin extradition proceedings against him, a potentially problematic, lengthy and unpredictable course for Washington. Or the Chinese government might whisk him away for questioning, viewing him as a useful source of information. Or he might end up being grabbed and bundled into a plane bound for US territory. "Yes, I could be rendered by the CIA. I could have people come after me. Or any of the third-party partners.

They work closely with a number of other nations. Or they could pay off the Triads. Any of their agents or assets," he said. "We have got a CIA station just up the road - the consulate here in Hong Kong - and I am sure they are going to be busy for the next week. And that is a concern I will live with for the rest of my life, however long that happens to be." Having watched the Obama administration prosecute whistleblowers at a historically unprecedented rate, he fully expects the US government to attempt to use all its weight to punish him. "I am not afraid," he said calmly, "because this is the choice I've made."
Charlie Pierce:
I am sorry, but this is the stuff of bad airport spy fiction. ("Rendered"? The Triads? Please.) The most likely outcome? China decides to extradite him because it has higher priority issues on which it needs to deal with the United States than the future of Edward Snowden. Which, I suspect, is when he and his sponsors will discover that Hong Kong's "spirited committment to free speech and the right of political dissent' -- which may be the funniest line to emerge from this whole saga -- is not what they believe it to be. But there are issues beyond Edward Snowden, and whatever comes next, and these are issues worthy of an open and national debate, and they should be examined in the light of day.
Read the whole thing. Charlie is right. We having the wrong arguments because too many people are uncritically buying the media hype and the fights are all about who's to blame. We didn't suddenly turn into a surveillance society overnight. The government has been spying on us in various ways our entire lives. That's surely not acceptable but let's not forget the Obama admin has not broken any laws. You want to get mad, then target the people who made all this stuff legal -- Congress.

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