Tuesday, June 11, 2013

We need some introspection on the NSA/Snowden saga

By demanding near-total security under the blind expectation that Government can achieve this security via easy means, Americans have embraced an impossible dynamic. A system that evidently lacks public support, but simultaneously requires political continuity - leaders understandably fear the consequences of failing to prevent a terrorist attack. In the space of this dysfunction, we have leakers like Manning, Snowden and Kiriakou who assume the right (however tenuous) to shape the contours of national security.
We need to deal with this problem. We need to engage in a serious discussion over the constitution of balance between security and civil liberties. IE - what risks/threats are we willing to accept and at what price? The internet is facilitating information flows in ever more accessible ways, but we need to realize that criminals and terrorists take advantage of these structures for their own ambitions. Constraining their malevolence is a public policy necessity. We need to move past the short term political actions currently on display by both Republicans and Democrats.
In many ways, this NSA situation is  just another symptom of our broader national-political disease. By expecting easy choices (wars with tax cuts), (debt resolution without entitlement reform), (partisanship and national progress), we've locked ourselves into a false understanding of governance. Matt Lewis had a great piece on this issue a while back.

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