Thursday, January 2, 2014

NYT Editorial Board Fails to Make Their Case

I find one aspect of the New York Times editorial today (suggesting that Edward Snowden should be given clemency) to be helpful. Finally, in one location, we have someone making a list of all the "horrors" revealed in the Snowden leaks. To be honest, I've been trying to figure this one out for a while now. And I keep coming up with "where's the beef?" So lets run through them real quick and see where things stand.

Of course the biggie for everyone still seems to be the metadata program. That's the one where the government collects date, time and number on all domestic phone calls. As the editorial mentions, there are conflicting court rulings on the constitutionality of the program. If there is going to be a final word on it, that will have to come from the Supreme Court.

Next they point out that NSA "broke federal privacy laws, or exceeded their authority thousands of times according to their own internal audit." That the NYT editorial board sees this as such an egregious outrage is interesting given that further down they link to their own paper's statement about it:
It found that there had been no willful violations of the rules, and that fewer than 1 percent of queries by analysts involved errors.
The next two have to do with NSA breaking into data centers to collect information and efforts to undermine encryption systems. Sorry, but this brings a big "Duh" from me. If we're going to task the intelligence community with spying on telecommunication activities, this is what they're going to do.

A biggie for lots of folks these days is that James Clapper lied to Congress when asked about the metadata program. As I see it, he was asked this question in an open session of Congress. If it was legal for him to talk about it in public, then why didn't the Senators who were so concerned talk about it? Perhaps Clapper should be called on the carpet for lying. But wouldn't he have technically been equally complicit if he had disclosed classified information in a public forum? Shouldn't the spotlight also be placed on Senator Wyden for asking a question that he knew it would be illegal for Clapper to answer?

Next comes the claim that the FISA Court ruled one of the NSA programs to be unconstitutional. Lets review this one more time. In Oct. 2011 the court ruled that an NSA program did not contain sufficient safeguards to protect the privacy of Americans whose information was collected while surveilling foreign targets. By November of that same year, NSA had returned with more stringent protections and the Court ruled the program constitutional.

The final point is mind-boggling in that it simply states that a federal judge ruled the metadata program unconstitutional. But the very same editorial had earlier pointed out that another judge had reached the opposite conclusion.

All of this belies their final statement:
When someone reveals that government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, that person should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government.
I'd say that the NYT editorial board needs to rethink their claim that "government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law." Reforms might well be worth pursuing. But accusing people of breaking the law is a serious charge that they didn't even come close to demonstrating.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you, Nancy. I drew most of the same conclusions. When a person gets a job IN ORDER TO steal classified information, that is not whistleblowing, it is espionage. When the data released are things we all were able to know - follow the court and Congressional decisions - then there is no 'expose' that gives merit to the act of theft and flight. The NY Times ONCE AGAIN fails to use fact. Thank goodness the seven part review of Benghazi was RESEARCHED and employed FACTS because the Ed. Board proved they don't really care when they get on their hobby horse. Their own Sunday Magazine told the whole story of Snowden meeting up with Glenn and Laura BEFORE taking the job, and they choose to ignore it. They ignore the changes the ACLU and other human rights groups pushed, the 2011 FISC directive - the sheer difference between Bush's outright eavesdropping and hacking and the current procedures. The need for people to see themselves as victims of this administration that is NOT abusive but not of the predecessor that was is appalling. Snowden needs to return and stand trial. His actions were self aggrandizing and dangerous NOT revealing things we did not know because we already did. The NY Times is being disingenuous in ignoring its OWN story and the evidence of a conspiracy to make a profit from people's ignorance and fear. Thank you for standing for accuracy and truth.

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  2. Snowden is a criminal concern troll that deserves to live the rest of his life in Russia. The editorial board at the New York Times probably want a Republican POTUS because it would be better for their kind----- stupid rich white men.

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