What do I think about the current government dust-up over the government's intrusion into our phone records or private email’s?
Two things. The first is that the government has been checking all of us out since the end of World War Two. While the mission of the OSS was primarily focused on intercepting foreign intelligence, its agenda morphed into a much broader mission of gathering domestic Intel under the guise of documenting potential threats of espionage.
Eventually the OSS became the CIA. The CIA's only responsibility is informing the Office of the President of any threats against the country and their suggestions of what to do about it. The President receives these briefings on a daily basis. The CIA has prided itself in being the only direct path to the White House. Not even the Department of Defense has that kind of access.
The second thing about clandestine operations is that often times the situation is too sensitive, even dangerous, for the general public to be made aware of. Do you really want to be briefed everyday about our hide and seek missions along the Afghani border with Pakistan? Do you really need to know which terrorist cells are actively planning to attack us, either abroad or here at home?
Years ago, Senator Frank Church convened an investigation into the activities of our intelligence agencies, seeking to limit any of them from trespassing on the rights of our own citizens. For a while, CIA activities were monitored haphazardly and as with all things political, eventually emerged from underneath the watchful eye of the Senate Intelligence Committee and went back to the old ways of doing business. I should know. My sister was an operative of the CIA for several years.
Now, millions of innocent Americans have been snooped upon by these spooks in case any of them might be engaged in shenanigans deemed detrimental to the security of the nation.
I find it interesting that politically conservative zealots found nothing wrong with the provisions of the Patriot Act under the Bush administration but fume over current violations of our Fourth Amendment rights, criticizing Obama for using those same borderline unconstitutional provisions of the Patriot Act for his own agenda. Do you really think millions of Verizon cell phone subscribers are terrorists? Do you think Internet users are writing to their girlfriends, boyfriends, or wives suggesting imminent actions be taken to blow up the government of the United States?
Of course not. Monitoring our own citizens without probable cause is both outrageous and frightening. Yet a majority of those same citizens rallied around the Patriot Act introduced by the Bush White House the morning after the attacks of 911.
Edward Snowden leaked information to the media that cost this country untold billions of dollars spent on legitimate surveillance as well as endangering undercover agents and informants necessary to secure the safety of the nation from those who would do us harm. At the same time he alerted us to the dangers posed by intelligence gathering operations on innocent Americans who have done nothing more than watched a little porn or exercised their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech by talking on their cell phones.
It's a split decision, one that has ironically united the disparate voices of both liberals and conservatives who view this unwarranted intrusion into our lives as both unnecessary and an outrageous violation of the constitutional protections put in place by the Founding Fathers to prevent these activities from taking place in the first place. But then again, Facebook and other social media have left us wide open to scrutiny by anyone interested in finding out who we really are, whether we be friend or foe.