Manning, Snowden and liberty's lost decade

  • Article by: THE ECONOMIST
  • Updated: August 5, 2013 - 9:18 AM

Manning and Snowden cases expose sins against cherished American values.

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hawkeye56379Aug. 4, 13 6:59 PM

The article says: "Unless the court is open to challenge from the public, it risks becoming the creature of the executive"---------- It IS open to challenge. The phone companies have previously fought the warrants in court and lost. There is currently pending before the US Supreme Court a petition for a writ that would overrule the FISA Court's approval of the program. If the Supreme Court rules in their favor then the program will stop or change. If not, then their challenge has been heard.

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pumiceAug. 4, 13 7:00 PM

From the article: "For the first time since 2004, when Pew, a pollster, started asking them, fewer Americans say that the government should boost security than say it has gone too far in restricting civil liberties." So then.... It's not Bush 43, and it's not Obama. It's us, the people. Although it's difficult for us to make an informed choice without information.

2014 should be an interesting election--will candidates be questioned about their stance on the balance between security and privacy? Will candidates be questioned about the proper level of access of Booz Allen Hamilton and other private corporations to national secrets? Will Speaker Boehner be questioned about allowing his caucus to repeal the PATRIOT Act? Will incumbents be questioned about overuse of the "Secret" label? Will incumbents be questioned about the ease with which low-level workers like Manning and Snowden got secret information???

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luzhishenAug. 4, 13 7:05 PM

"The linchpin of the system is the secret court, which interprets government powers under the law as well as issues routine warrants. But Americans do not know about its rulings, and so cannot challenge them. In theory, if Congress disputes the court’s judgments or the NSA’s behavior, it can amend the law. Yet the politicians who know what is going on in secret cannot discuss their concerns in public and officials have felt safe lying to congressional hearings." Welcome to communist Czechoslovakia, DDR, etc..

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summerguy3Aug. 4, 13 7:18 PM

Will the editorial staff of The Economist wax this eloquent when the inevitable nuclear device is exploded in a US city? Just what the hey do these Brits think this is, a Mensa exercise? This is a war and we could lose a city if we listen to this prattle.

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bblheadAug. 4, 13 7:21 PM

Most people would just as soon have the government do what it feels fit to protect them and not know. It is a delicate balance between liberty and security. Worse yet, when yo take the oath to "defend the Constitution of the United States above all enemies, foreign and domestic" and "obey the orders of those appointed above me", you are promising to keep a secret. There can be a contradiction between the two, but how do you reconcile them? Our government is supposed to be answerable to the people and perhaps it is time for the people to actually tell the government what level of power it should have. None involved seem to be innocent, but if you fail to tell your government what to do, you are more guilty than the rest. It is your right, and more importantly, your responsibility as a citizen.

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hawkeye56379Aug. 4, 13 7:21 PM

luzhishen: I'm pretty sure that those governments didn't need court approval to do what they wanted in the surveillance area as our government does. Do you disagree?

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edinawaterAug. 4, 13 8:08 PM

summerguy3, it takes the resources of a government to put together a nuclear weapon. It will not be constructed by a band of rebels hiding in the mountains. We already have devices all over the nation that are so sensitive to radiation that people set them off from simple medical procedures. So even if a terrorist organization somehow got a hold of a nuclear weapon they would not get it to a populating center undetected.

Your fear-mongering argument could just as easily suggest that we should bend over backwards and bow down to the government because we must be sure no one has the ability to do us harm.

There are drugs and weapons in our prisons. What sort of world should we live in to protect ourselves from all forms of harm. The fact is people can do us harm no matter what we do to stop them. We cannot live in the land of the free unless we also remain the home of the brave.

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edinawaterAug. 4, 13 8:24 PM

Speaking of casuistry, it is misleading to frame the debate in terms of 'balance' between privacy and security. It is not a balance. A balance implies that there is a trade-off. The government's actions in the past decade have been a taking of privacy while providing no more security.

The only trade-off is whether we need security from terrorists or security from the government. As you hand more power to the government it will be abused to a greater-and-greater degree.

If there is any question about 'balancing' security and privacy one can simply look to the constitution which already spells out the requirements for the government exercise many of the powers it has been indiscriminately using for the past decade.

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kilofoxAug. 4, 13 8:45 PM

Everyone screams your restricting my civil rights until the next 9/11 comes around. And then they scream why couldn't you protect us and connect the dots.

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RankenFyleAug. 4, 1310:00 PM

Dear Mr. Orwell, I am sad to report, Ignorance is Strength. I shall weep in your stead...

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