Me? Wait for his lawyer? I wouldn't hesitate to go far beyond waterboarding the bastard, and yet I am appalled by the revelations of NSA information gathering, which contribute very little to American security. Even with warnings from Moscow, this data didn't prevent the Boston Marathon bombing. You see, it has nothing to do with the quantity of the data accumulated, and everything to do with theory and focus.
In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Blowing a Whistle" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/12/opinion/friedman-blowing-a-whistle.html), Thomas Friedman plays on our 9/11 paranoia:
"Yes, I worry about potential government abuse of privacy from a program designed to prevent another 9/11 — abuse that, so far, does not appear to have happened. But I worry even more about another 9/11. That is, I worry about something that’s already happened once — that was staggeringly costly — and that terrorists aspire to repeat.
I worry about that even more, not because I don’t care about civil liberties, but because what I cherish most about America is our open society, and I believe that if there is one more 9/11 — or worse, an attack involving nuclear material — it could lead to the end of the open society as we know it. If there were another 9/11, I fear that 99 percent of Americans would tell their members of Congress: 'Do whatever you need to do to, privacy be damned, just make sure this does not happen again.' That is what I fear most.
That is why I’ll reluctantly, very reluctantly, trade off the government using data mining to look for suspicious patterns in phone numbers called and e-mail addresses — and then have to go to a judge to get a warrant to actually look at the content under guidelines set by Congress — to prevent a day where, out of fear, we give government a license to look at anyone, any e-mail, any phone call, anywhere, anytime."
Tom wants to "prevent a day where, out of fear, we give government a license to look at anyone, any e-mail, any phone call, anywhere, anytime"? Me, too. But didn't Snowden just tell us that "I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal e-mail" (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/09/edward-snowden-nsa-whistleblower-surveillance)?
Friedman quotes from an essay by David Simon, the creator of HBO’s "The Wire": "this kind of data collection has been a baseline logic of an American anti-terrorism effort that is effectively asked to find the needles before they are planted into haystacks, to prevent even such modest, grass-rooted conspiracies as the Boston Marathon bombing before they occur." Okay, but did it stop the Boston Marathon bombing? Not a chance.
Sure, I want to prevent a future 9/11, which is more likely to arise today as the result of an Iranian cyber attack, but unlike Tom, I'm going to be politically incorrect. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey (http://www.pewforum.org/Muslim/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-exec.aspx):
"Few U.S. Muslims voice support for suicide bombing or other forms of violence against civilians in the name of Islam; 81% say such acts are never justified, while fewer than one-in-ten say violence against civilians either is often justified (1%) or is sometimes justified (7%) to defend Islam."
Only 1% of US Muslims "say violence against civilians is often justified," and only 7% say that such violence "is sometimes justified"? These numbers are frightening. As I said earlier, everything has to do with theory and focus - here is your focus. Thanks to Pew, there is no additional need for theory.
And where is Obama in the midst of this storm? From the isolation of Rancho Mirage in California, he will soon be traveling to Tanzania. On Tuesday, Politico reporter Glenn Thrush Tuesday asked Jay Carney whether President Obama should "have a fireside chat with the American people" about the NSA’s surveillance program. Carney's answer (see: http://freebeacon.com/carney-refuses-to-answer-why-obama-wont-speak-to-american-people-directly-about-nsa-scandal/):
"I’m not saying — I think I just said, Glenn, although I appreciate yours and the former Attorney General’s specific recommendations about the modalities of presidential communication, the president has and will speak about this subject."
Yup, they're already firing up the teleprompters, but in the meantime, the president is doing what he does best: He likes to watch.