Marc Thiessen comes out today with the opinion — as yet pretty unpopular with journalists and editorialists — that leaking facts about government surveillance is betraying America, not serving it. The government has always curtailed civil liberties in wartime, Thiessen argues, and publicizing their methods only helps the enemy evade detection. If America knows what American intelligence is up to, the terrorists will, too.
Public opinion, as PostScript has seen, is largely divided along the lines of whom one trusts more, President Obama or leading Republicans. A good chunk of partisanship is about which side you are willing to give the benefit of the doubt when not all the facts are known. But Thiessen, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, is sticking up for the Obama administration now as Obama is using powers Bush championed through the Patriot Act. That breaks up the traditional us-vs.-them framework for everyone, so we get a lot of variation in the comments.
We’ve got left-leaners siding with Thiessen:
As a left-of-center moderate, I also agree with the Thiessen’s premise that this type of operation is both legal and necessary. So long as a warrant is obtained and it’s only the topology, and not the contents, of the calls. After the Boston bombing one of the first questions was why the government didn’t head off the attack. This is exactly the type of approach that can find the links between those who would do us harm. We expect the government to keep us safe; and immediately question why attacks were not pre-empted. But, we don’t seem to be willing to allow them the tools to do that. We cannot have it both ways.
We’ve got left-leaners and Obama sympathizers siding against Thiessen and Obama:
As with so much else, Marc Thiessen, in a way that should show that conservatives are not really interested in things like “rights” despite their self-serving claims to the contrary, fails to understand the problems with these surveillance programs.
A large part of our liberty in this country is founded on the notion that government authorities require a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing on the part of any individual they wish to place under surveillance, even when that surveillance is largely unintrusive. To obtain and examine these phone records is precisely the kind of surveillance that should require the fairly low hurdle of “reasonable suspicion” to be cleared before being conducted on any individual.
The customers of Verizon and other common carriers are individuals whose rights should be protected under the fourth and fifth amendments, but there is no possible legitimate claim that they are all reasonably suspected of any kind national security-related wrongdoing. This is precisely the kind of “fishing expedition” our courts routinely and rightly deny permission to conduct.
The best thing I can say about Obama is that he did not start it. The worst thing is that he has not ended it and continues to defend it.
flyover22, generally a right-leaner, reject’s Thiessen’s calm about government overreach:
Don’t worry Big Brother isn’t watching you…
Don’t worry HHS isn’t controlling medical procedures..
Don’t worry we are only going to overspend until the economy improves…
Don’t worry we are only printing $85B a month until the unemployment rate is 6%…
Don’t worry we are only going to make the rich pay a little more…
Don’t worry we are only attacking organization with really wrong political opinions…
Don’t worry we are only auditing a few people who are supporting other candidates…
Don’t worry we are only getting records from some press organizations…
Don’t worry we are only doing it privately for your own protection….
…at this time.
And while PostScript was unable to find right-leaners agreeing with Thiessen, jpotter1 argues that everyone should be upset — that this issue has only one side, which is the silencing of dissent:
Regardless of your political leanings, the domestic capture of this data by the government is very dangerous for our fourth estate, the press. All of your calls, email accounts, etc. can be sifted through to determine your investigative trails and to identify who talked with the press. High profile prosecutions of these whistleblowers will chill any effort to expose inappropriate actions of our government and make the press a simple regurgitator of press releases from government agencies.
Wow. Quite a partisan shakeup. But the press’s job, as jpotter1 argues, is to protect citizens from government overreach, so The Post can help . . .
Interestingly, the WaPo itself ‘data-mines’ our comments to filter out obscenities and the like.
Well sure, but the Post is benevolent and accountable for its actions; it can be sued and disgraced, so there the people are protected from abuse.
And don’t think all of our comments on here simply disappear into the ether when you close your laptop! Oh No! The Government is coming!
No, of course not. Your comments are lovingly cataloged and noted by a professional observer who sees a ton of data but roots out that which she finds particularly “interesting.” Which she then writes up in a little report. It’s all perfectly fine.