traitEdward Snowden, 29, a former CIA technical assistant and current employee of military contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, went to the Guardian and the Washington Post newspapers and spilled national security secrets that he had promised not to divulge. U.S. Ambassador John Bolton puts that effort in the proper perspective:

Number one, this man is a liar. He took an oath to keep the secrets that were shared with him so he could do his job. He said said he would not disclose them, and he lied. Number two, he lied because he thinks he’s smarter and has a higher morality than the rest of us. This guy thinks he has a higher morality, that he can see clearer than other 299-million 999-thousand 999 of us, and therefore he can do what he wants. I say that is the worst form of treason.

Those who consider Snowden a “hero” might want to consider two other realities as well. First, he clearly violated the Espionage Act. If he isn’t punished for doing so, then the act is utterly toothless. Second, contrast his behavior with that of Benghazi witness Gregory Hicks. Hicks endured the crucible of appearing before Congress and giving testimony about possible State Department improprieties that could ruin him. He didn’t run to a newspaper, then run to Hong Kong and then vanish.

Or possibly defect.

Former CIA case officer Bob Baer told CNN that intelligence officials were speculating that Snowden may be part of a Chinese espionage case. “On the face of it, it looks like [Hong Kong] 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.”

Baer also noted the convenient timing of Snowden’s revelation. It followed a weekend summit between Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, during which the issue of cyber security remained unresolved. “It almost seems to me that this was a pointed affront to the United States on the day the president is meeting the Chinese leader,” Baer speculated, “telling us, listen, quit complaining about espionage and getting on the Internet and our hacking. You are doing the same thing.”

Unfortunately, in the wake of this obviously egregious security breach and possible Chinese meddling, a number of Republicans are more interested in bringing the hammer down on Obama than on Snowden. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has been on the fore of this wrongheaded approach. “I’m going to be asking all the Internet providers and all of the phone companies: ask your customers to join me in a class action lawsuit,” he told Fox News’ Chris Wallace. “If we get ten million Americans saying we don’t want our phone records looked at, then maybe someone will wake up and something will change in Washington.”

Other Republicans are equally misguided. They have joined Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), signing a letter to the FBI and NSA impugning the programs. Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), who has adopted the libertarian outlook of former Rep. Ron Paul, explained their rationale. “You’ll find a lot of names [on the letter] of people who were recently elected,” Amash said. “We’re not tied to the Bush administration’s policies, which were also wrong.”

In reality, the controversy surrounding the NSA necessitates a serious discussion, apart from both the media-driven hysteria and the partisan politics that inform much of it. There is little question our nation still faces the kind of threat manifested on 9/11. There is no question one of the federal government’s primary functions is to provide for the national defense. Yet as Andrew McCarthy explained at National Review Online, there are two “inseparable issues” that must be reconciled in the process: the government’s seemingly limitless ability to gather information — and how much trust Americans should place in government officials to do it within the confines of the rule of law.

As revealed respectively by the Guardian and the Washington Post via Snowden, the government has been collecting “metadata” from phone companies and Internet servers in order to detect patterns that may reveal burgeoning threats against the nation, which might otherwise go unnoticed. This metadata does not include content, and thus, it does not fall under the auspices of Fourth Amendment protection.

In a previous article on the subject, McCarthy likens the difference between metadata and content as the difference between an envelope containing an address, which is available for anyone to see, and the content of the letter contained in that envelope, which is private. With respect to obtaining the information contained in a letter, or the content of our conversations, several Supreme Court precedents have established that Americans have a reasonable expectation of privacy, unless there is “probable cause” the information will contain proof of a crime.

For those who worry that the Constitution is being violated, there is a further distinction that must be made as well. Before information that is collected to detect a pattern can be sifted for the sake of surveillance, the NSA must convince a court that there is sufficient reason for doing so. In the case of the NSA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court is the one that decides whether a case has merit. In order to protect Americans, it has been established that all intelligence-gathering on Americans must be disclosed, and that which has been wrongfully amassed must be destroyed.

Due to the efforts of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was forced to admit that on at least one occasion, the government carried out an unreasonable search. Yet more importantly, it also admitted that the government “has sometimes circumvented the spirit of the law, and on at least one occasion the FISA Court has reached the same conclusion.”

This brings us to the other issue highlighted by McCarthy. For Americans to be satisfied that such a program will not be abused, a certain level of trust must be cultivated among the public by government officials.

In that regard, the Obama administration has been an unmitigated disaster. As the American Spectator’s Jed Babbin points out, this administration is mired in scandals. He noted “only” five, including the IRS targeting of conservative groups and the pleading of the Fifth Amendment (to avoid self-incrimination) by the overseer of this abuse; Eric Holder’s ostensible perjury for denying any connection to the seizure of a Fox News reporter’s records, despite his approval of the search warrant involved; several administration officials using fictitious email accounts to avoid government record-keeping laws; and the impropriety of Obama’s assertion of executive privilege to protect Holder in the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal.

This is to say nothing of the Benghazi lies, Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s suspect solicitation of funds from health care firms, or yesterday’s revelation of a State Department coverup involving sexual assaults, prostitution, and an underground drug ring.

Furthermore, in an exchange directly related to the issue, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a bald-faced lie during a March 12 hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Wyden asked Clapper, “Does the NSA collect any kind of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” “No, sir,” Clapper answered. “It does not?” Wyden asked again. “Not wittingly,” said Clapper. “There are cases where they could, inadvertently, perhaps…”

There is also another breach of trust by this administration that cannot be ignored. Despite the massive amount of information the government is capable of gathering, the Tsarnaev brothers were still able to perpetrate a terrorist attack in Boston, even as the intelligence community had Russian intel on Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Terrorists were able to kill four Americans in Benghazi on the anniversary of September 11. Maj. Nidal Hasan was able to kill 13 and wound 32 of his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, despite the fact that military officials were aware of his increasing radicalization and his exchanges with Anwar Awlaki.

The common thread? Political correctness and willful blindness. National Review’s Mark Steyn illuminates the insanity:

How did all these Tsarnaevs-in-waiting wind up living in the United States? They were let in by the government, and many of them were let in in the years since 9/11, when we were supposedly on permanent “orange alert.” The same bureaucracy that takes the terror threat so seriously that it needs the phone and Internet records of hundreds of millions of law-abiding persons would never dream of doing a little more pre-screening in its immigration system –by, say, according a graduate of a Yemeni madrassah a little more scrutiny than a Slovene or Fijian…The ID three of the 9/11 hijackers acquired in the 7-Eleven parking lot in Falls Church, Virginia and used to board the plane that day is part of a vast ongoing subversion of American sovereignty with which many states and so-called “sanctuary cities” actively collude…As for Major Hasan, who needs surveillance? He put “Soldier of Allah” on his business card and gave a PowerPoint presentation to his military colleagues on what he’d like to do to infidels–and nobody said a word, lest they got tied up in sensitivity-training hell for six months.

Thus, Americans are caught in a vise. No one wants a repeat of 9/11, or even the Boston Marathon bombings, but this administration has squandered the trust of the public, and demonstrated their contempt for the Constitution so often and so thoroughly, that Americans may choose, as McCarthy puts it, “to slash the powers we need” rather than “the officials we don’t” — and we may live to “regret it.”

In other words, we must separate political gamesmanship from national security.

This shouldn’t be as difficult as it sounds. We are up against an enemy for whom the term “collateral damage,” as in the killing of innocents, is an utterly foreign concept. Nor are they constrained by anything resembling the MAD doctrine that kept the Cold War from escalating to nuclear exchanges. If terrorists could detonate a nuke in an American city, they would undoubtedly do it for the sake of jihad. Americans intuitively understand this reality. But the commander-in-chief has confused and convoluted the issue. Accentuating his own hypocrisy, though he once assailed Bush overreach and decried government “fishing expeditions,” Obama has maintained and expanded most of the previous administration’s national security protocols. A president loses all credibility with the public when he attacks his draconian predecessor, avers that the war on terror is over, and yet doubles down on the effective programs he both demonizes and secretly agrees are proper and necessary.

And while many Republicans have been quick to demonize the Obama administration’s efforts, such a campaign — while emotionally satisfying on a number of levels — may be counterproductive. As McCarthy and several others have noted, the current controversy would have barely resonated if it had been brought up nationwide on September 12, 2001, or in Boston on April 15 of this year.

It is likely such a possibility will be completely dismissed by those who see the NSA revelations in absolute terms, both on the Left and the Right. But what is needed is the balance that must be found between protecting American lives and protecting their rights. Part of that balance could be achieved by taking the Islamic nature of the threat far more seriously than the Obama administration does now. That alone would diminish the need for the level of all-encompassing surveillance we currently fear.

However, much of the anger surrounding this issue is still based on the reality that this administration is full of dishonorable people, easily capable of elevating political correctness and partisanship above the safety of Americans. In short, they have broken any bond of trust they might have had with the American public. That includes Edward Snowden, who, despite all his self-aggrandizement, has revealed himself to be nothing more than a traitor who should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Absent trust, Americans will remain contemptuous of virtually any efforts made by the NSA to protect them, perhaps even to the point of self-endangerment. If that reality isn’t the worst one engendered by this administration, one would be hard-pressed to imagine what is.

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  • William James Ward

    There is so much going on in surveliance that no one really knows,
    not even those doing the snooping. It is necessary to look into
    communications with Islamist contacts by anyone as they can not
    be trusted and have by action and word cursed America. Obama
    will be the first to cause America to suffer to raise up our enemies
    and they being the minions of Islam. Watch Europe for what we are
    in for, this Summer will be very telling. For the snoops, our rights
    are not negotiable and never will be while we are alive which is
    in question if the surveliance is of a Stalinist nature………..William

  • slhancock

    Part of me is troubled by Snowden’s actions, but a part of me is glad that it is out in the open. I think many have suspected that we are being watched, and knowing that some of the techies enjoy making fun of things people are writing, etc. tells me that this could VERY WELL BE USED by democrat hacks working in any agency. Was it yesterday that Maxine Waters stated that now that Obama has made this pile of data (accumulation) on “everybody”, the next democrat presidential candidate will have a treasure trove of information…my wording, but her intentions. Yes, I wonder if this was the data that was used in the past election. It wasn’t THAT long ago, and everybody was bragging about how ingenious his campaign’s use of electronics was. My gut feeling is that he had this access then and used it.

  • cheechakos

    It is rather harsh to declare a man guilty of traitorous acts without a trial ,evidence or even speaking to him.

    I don’t think we fully know Snowden’s reasoning yet. He didn’t really expose a great big secret, unknown program that affects the safety of the country.None of the info collected has ever been used to apprehend ,stop or convict terrorists . The info isn’t intended for that. It’s used to document and watch American citizens.

    Snowden’s flight to China makes him look less than naively innocent and as having more of an agenda than just morals.
    His exposing government corruption and invasion of citizens privacy is hard to quantify as espionage or treason ,especially when the government is violating the rights of 300 million people, and has committed far worse crimes.

    Instead of being outraged at Snowden, why is there not outrage at the government who has abused it’s power, American citizens rights and endangered the entire population by filling our country with illegals and terrorists ? Why is the government being allowed to subvert our Constitution,violate our laws and commit treason freely?

    Why not ask the government what crimes American citizens have committed that warrants invasions of their personal lives?

  • DogmaelJones1

    I must take issue with this column. Did or did not the NSA collect all that information on Americans, a miniscule fraction of whom deserved “watching” and monitoring? Did or did not Holder authorize rummaging through Fox News’s files for a leak? Did or did not the IRS go after Tea Partiers and other “enemies” of Obama? I don’t really know what Snowden’s true motives were; if he’d been smart, he’d have bugged out for Singapore, not Hong Kong. Now he’s vanished. I don’t care what the author here says about the pseudo-legitimacy of the NSA’s surveillance programs are: we are faced with an authoritarian government run by power-lusters and I wouldn’t trust the NSA or the DHS or even the FBI with my life. I don’t want the government or any of its agencies “watching over me.” I want them out of my life and after the Islamists they all overlook until the blow up more Americans.

  • Richard StJohn

    You know what, you are in complete and full agreement with Diane Feinstein. Which in my world makes you in complete and total disagreement with me. Someone needed to reveal this stuff. It should have been the President. But of course not dictator Obama. He’s too busy marching us to socialism and Sharia Law. And you guys are calling the man who revealed this gross abuse of power, this blatant and far reaching violation of our Constitutional rights a traitor? Oh yes the espionage act. Yes let’s enforce that because Amendments one and four no longer mean jack. I find both your arrogance and ignorance absolutely beyond belief. Get out your I love Obama buttons and your prayer rugs. Morons.

  • Night Operator

    No, sorry author, but you seem to be trying to have it both ways. Given that the Administration has broken any bond of trust with the people, including Edward Snowden, then he has an obvious answer to the cry of “Traitor!” Snowden can at least argue that he has betrayed only the Government and not the country. Does that make the betrayal right? No, not really. Then again, it might degrade the Government’s accusation to the level of a child’s whining that the other people managed to cheat better than he did. What about the danger to the country? Yes, that would be a serious point, except that these people are not concerned to protect the public anyhow. (If Obama does not care enough to protect even his own ambassador that he sent out, then he does not care doodly squat about protecting the public.)

  • Giles Blyzzard

    Well, Mr. Bolton and Mr. Ahlert, you want to talk about liars?

    The right of the people to be to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, SHALL NOT BE VIOLATED, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. PERIOD. No exceptions. No powers delegated to Congress or the President to make an exception. Therefore, every official in Washington who supports the government eavesdropping on the American public who took an oath to uphold the Constitution is also a liar and a perjurer. So which traitor shall we prosecute first?

    I know what Mr. Bolton’s response to the above statement would be because I have seen him make it before. “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.” I agree. But the notion that the US government has to spy on every American 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in order to keep America safe is absurd. Not to mention it is spitting on the graves of the founders of this nation. i can’t believe how many people are buying into this utter nonsense.

    If you want to keep Americans safe, Mr. Bolton and Mv. Ahlert, then ban Islam. Not political Islam, radical Islam or Islamism. Islam. It is a totalitarian political ideology cloaked in a religion. One of its main tenets is establishing Islam as the state religion, which violates the establishment clause of the first amendment. It also preaches subversion from within. Therefore, it can be outlawed without violatiing the first amendment’s freedom of religion clause. Close down all mosques preaching jihad. Ban all immigration from muslim countries. That is the only way Islam will be stopped in the west.

    We are becoming the Soviet Union and I mourn for my country.

  • nofrills

    Edward Snowden is a real hero. Arnold Ahlert is a real nut. Facts are Facts!

  • Steve Fraser

    Yes, we need “balance”…let’s start by abolishing the NSA and let the CIA handle it all. In a related story: “I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.—James Madison

  • Ronald John Lofaro, PhD


  • ydroustan

    I find it quite sad and depressing that when President Obama takes the oath to defend the Constitution and protect Americans against terrorism he is not called a traitor when he declares there is no war against terrorism, banishes the word “terrorism” from his vocabulary and then insults our intelligence by declaring that the NSA infringement OF our freedom and privacy is justified to prevent, guess what: “TERRORISM”. Mr. Obama is a fanatical, deceiving, self-serving, undeserving Mullah-Chief-Executive traitor.

  • ydroustan

    Obama who says there is no terrorism now wants to protect us against terrorism by invading our privacy through NSA abuses. He took an oath to protect the constitution and protect Americans. Tell me who is the traitor?

  • tagalog

    Is he a whistle-blower or a disloyal traitor? I can see both sides of Snowden. For me, the most compelling argument for him being a traitor is the claim that he doesn’t get to blow the whistle simply because of his personal perceptions. On the other hand, I’m not comfortable with the government having access to intimate details of everyone’s lives.

    I think I’ll use the Snowden case study in my class on business ethics, to plumb the beliefs of my students on him and what he has done.

  • sheikyermami

    The ‘Traitor’ is your commander in chief, who surrounded himself with Marxist -Maoist ideologues and Muslims. Barry Soetoro aka Hussain Obama is a Manchurian candidate who wants ‘to fundamentally transform America’. His all-out efforts are directed towards making the world just a little more Islamic, and hardly anyone says or does anything about it.

    Don’t get your knickers in a twist over Snowden; he did the right thing. If there ever was a case of high treason, the whole Obama regime is guilty as sin.

  • steve

    What part of “The RIGHT of the people to be SECURE in their PERSONS, HOUSES, PAPERS, and EFFECTS against unreasonable SEARCHES and seizures, SHALL NOT BE VIOLATED, and no Warrants shall issue, BUT UPON PROBABLE CAUSE” don’t these sons-of-bitches understand?

    Yes, read it folks. It’s the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    That’s what writers like Mr. Ahlert keep trying to distract you from with their emphasis on “how much trust Americans should place in government officials” to collect data “within the rule of law.” Folks, if they’re spying on you WITHOUT PROBABLE CAUSE then it is UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Period. Dot. End of story.

    The “rule of law” has already been violated. The guilty party is the NSA, and the administration that allowed them to illegally collect the data. Claiming that it’s only “mega-data” that was collected, and therefore not covered under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is a huge cop-out.

    As Snowden stated, “Even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re being watched and recorded. And the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude… They can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis… to derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer. You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying…once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place.”

  • ziggy zoggy


    Snowden blew his whistle to the rabidly left-wing and deeply anti-American Guardian and Washington Post newspapers, and then sought asylum with America’s number one cyber enemy – “The People’s Republic” of China. His stated reason for doing so was that he doesn’t want a future (Republican) administration to use the data gathered as an excuse to wage another war. (Bush lied, people died hysteria.) He is PERFECTLY FINE with the totalitarian and criminal Obamaburo using phone, web and other electronic data to persecute its domestic political opponents.

    Not that it matters. NONE OF THIS will stop the Obamaburo from persecuting dissenters and America is NOT the only country collecting this data. NOTHING can stop it now. It is here to stay, just like nuclear weapons.

    Conservatives need to be aware of this. The rest of you are part of the problem.

  • EarlyBird

    Snowden broke the law, and he will be prosecuted for it. The White House is already going after him.
    Suggestions from the national security bureaucracy that Snowden damaged the ability of the United States to catch terrorists are nonsense. Terrorists already knew the NSA was gathering information about when/where calls were placed, and that’s why they are notorious for using disposable cell phones.

    The real “scandal” is that it took Snowden to awaken the American people to what is being done to catch terrorists. Nobody, including Snowden, is suggesting the US government has done something illegal. To the contrary, this harvesting of call and email data is fully authorized under the “Patriot Act,” and has been going on since 9/11, under both Bush and Obama.

    This is not only about trusting the Obama administration. It’s about trusting every administration from now until down the line. It is why this is a rare item where left-liberals and libertarians our equally concerned. It is also another perfect example of how war threatens civil liberties, and an endless war on “terror,” or XXX is the death knell to our civil liberties.

  • hondo
  • libertarian1234

    Anybody who exposes the misconduct and criminality of the government is a hero, plain and simple.

    This Orwellian power grab compiles more information on every day citizens than it does any potential jihadists.

    And anything they claim that has been interrupted by this data base could have been exposed, because the ones caught were so stupid they broadcast to nearly everybody what they intended to do, just like the Boston Marathon bombers.

    Any terrorist clever enough to keep his mouth shut and quietly go about his work will have an unimpeded path to do whatever he wants. This meta data base will have ZERO effect on the serious ones who are not so silly they broadcast their intent.

    It will serve ONLY as a source of data for EVERY citizen in the US BUT sleeper cells, illegal aliens, and jihadist who are working with the cartels in Mexico and will continue to infiltrate into the country over the Mex border. The new world utopians have everybody in their data base, but these people.

    Great system isn’t it. Snowden is a hero.

  • fritzidler

    Reading the piece, I was uneasily going along with parts of it. Then I read the comments, and thought better of it. Now there is an accusation Snowden went to Hong Kong to sell additional information. Not just seek sanctuary. China and Putin are calling him a hero, because he thinks it is important our enemies know all about our cyber/war/spy capabilities. But these things are not confirmed. The only observation I have, is his name. “Snowden.” Like the character in “Catch 22.” The “new gunner” who died on his first bombing mission.

  • weirdpeter

    Now I understand – Its W’s fault! Obama’s foreign policy positions have destroyed whatever international credibility this country had before his coronation. The level of legal snooping has jumped dramatically since he’s been in charge. Legal does not mean moral as far as legislation is concerned. This administration’s use of legally acquired data against U.S. citizens deemed as enemies of Obama is self-evident. The complete contempt with which this administration has dealt with the growing number of scandals demonstrates a willingness to deceive the public and shows no desire on O’s part to have the most open administration in history.

    • EarlyBird

      Peter, you seem confused. Let’s break this down bit by bit:

      “Now I understand – Its W’s fault!”
      Nobody is suggesting it’s “W’s fault.” People are recognizing that this program started with the Patriot Act, which came into being a month or so after 9/11, at the urging of Bush and his national security experts, and with the full approval of Congress.
      “Obama’s foreign policy positions have destroyed whatever international credibility this country had before his coronation.”
      Correct or not, your opinion of Obama’s foreign policy is irrelevant to this issue.
      “The level of legal snooping has jumped dramatically since he’s been in charge.”
      No, it hasn’t. Pay attention: the logging of phone call and emails which is being discussed has been going on as long as the Patriot Act has been in effect, i.e., since about November, 2001. Not even Rush Limbaugh is suggesting that this is program was created or abused by Obama. Nobody is suggesting that PRISM is illegal. It’s a structural problem, not a problem specific to Obama. If Romney had won in November we’d still be having this very discussion.
      “Legal does not mean moral as far as legislation is concerned. This administration’s use of legally acquired data against U.S. citizens deemed as enemies of Obama is self-evident.”
      Again, you prove your ignorance of the basic facts. Obama is using the very same program in the very same way that W did, and in the same way that a President McCain or Romney would have, and every other president will to come until we change this legislation.
      This is not a scandal about any given resident; it’s merely shocking to discover how broad and invasive the Patriot Act is.

  • Bob White

    Yes, But Clapper was asked whether the US was gathering data on millions of Americans and he, under oath, denied it. So Clapper is a liar and yet he served at the highest rank of our security apparatus. So don’t make stupid points about who lied and when.

    Snowden broke his promise. That is not a lie. Bill Clinton lied under oath and yet remained commander-in-chief. And Obama is a serial liar. One cannot continue to count his lies. And yet he was re-elected to the post.

    So don’t bother with the “lies” business. Snowden is not in their lying league.

    Snowden is telling the truth about the records being kept on us and that is the important information to bear in mind.

    Moreover, there is no reason that the NSA needs all that information on all of us. It may be no violation to specifically gather this information on a suspect, but it is certainly a violation of the 4th amendment to gather it on everyone regardless of suspicion.

    Those who do not see this are the true traitors.

  • Bob White

    (1) Is metadata significant? Consider what would have happened if a spy were discovered by the British military with an envelope addressed and signed by George Washington, even if the contents of the envelope had been destroyed. He would have been swiftly hanged, purely on the basis of “metadata”.

    Now consider what damage one could do to you if knowledge of any of your private conversations were leaked to the wrong person. Your boss would want to know why you were having conversations with the competition or with recruiters. Your wife would want to know why unfamiliar numbers appeared on your cellphone. There is no crime in this, but mere transmission of the “metadata” could cause havoc. This is the kind of havoc a thuggish administration could wreak on its enemies (just as they targeted tea party & conservatives).

    (2) All of the metadata could be anonymized (tokenized). If all they are looking for is patterns, then they do not need our actual phone numbers until after they have detected the pattern. If they do not have the call data indexed by phone number then they cannot target a particular phone number without first (by warrant) learning which token corresponds to that number. They cannot just go fishing in the wide pool to see what trouble they can cause their political enemies because identities would be hidden. They could, however, find the patterns they are so keen on discovering.

    So don’t for a second believe that these people are just looking out for national security. Tokenization is a standard tool in the payment card industry. It will not have escaped these analysts that they could get the job done without having identifying information on every single phone call. They want the identifying information so they can mess with anyone they want to.

  • Robert Johnson

    The American Military are trained that they have a duty to disobey all unconstitutional orders. If the NSA staff took the same oath, how many Ed Snowdens would we have now? If he is a “traitor” then who is the worse traitor, the citizen who exposes totalitarian, unconstitutional subversion of our nation or the citizens who actually planned and carried out the crime?? If Snowden should be charged with treason, then what should happen to those at the NSA and elsewhere in government???

  • EarlyBird

    So, he’d be a hero if he’d come out to the National Review and Wall Street Journal? He’s giving Obama headaches right now, not Romney or a Republican president.

    • ziggy zoggy

      Nothing could make this zero a hero, any more than you could become a decent human being. He gave classified US intelligence to America’s enemies and has been trying to defect to China.

      Conservatives have constant morals rather than phony morals that only apply to whatever will aid the left-wing cause.

  • William James Ward

    One use of universal snooping for the government is to check just how
    effective the indoctrination it is spreading is working and enables the
    powers that be to know which way to go to keep the 51% in line and
    thier power secure. It also divulges the tactics of opponents to the regeme
    giving them a heads up and time to discredit adverse criticism…………