Case example: damage by those who proclaim they are trying to save the world

On the U.S. is only evil and invading your privacy for no reason rant, Paul Mirengoff notes a Wapo item by Bart Gellman that confirms the value of NSA intercepts.

“Bart Gellman and his colleagues at the Washington Post’s shadow NSA have produced another breathless article purporting to show the threat to civil liberties posed by the NSA’s interception of private internet communications. Ultimately, though, the article succeeds only in confirming the value of the NSA’s practice in combating the threat to our safety posed by terrorists”

“what harm arises from the NSA obtaining communications from non-targets that is serious enough to cause a rational government to consider curtailing the program?

A pattern of misuse of the information obtained to the detriment of individuals not involved in terrorism might well suffice. But Gellman is unable to point to any such pattern; indeed, he fails to identify a single instance of such abuse.”

“The NSA’s intercept program is enabling us to capture deadly terrorists, learn of secret nuclear weapons projects and aggressive computer hackers, and discover the double-dealing of purported allies. It should not be shut down. Instead, Bart Gellman should shut down his shadow spying program, which produces no such benefits.”

The outrage over privacy is misplaced. It is an outrage about what someone knows or suspects and not what they do. The government does need to cull through reams of useless personal information if it is to find information about criminal or terrorist activity. What it does with that information is another story. In criminal courts, information obtained without a warrant or other proper procedure is not considered valid. When it comes to international affairs such as the terrorism encountered recently, espionage rules apply. 

But the outrage over privacy does serve a purpose. One has only to note that it is selective in its targets to determine what that purpose might be.

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