People have very diverse opinions on Eric Snowden, ranging from hero to traitor. However it is undeniable that he revealed extensive abuses by the NSA and those revelations are causing us to look hard at the kind of country we want to live in. A cascade of Congressional hearings, an Executive Review and even more revelations of abuses by our security agencies has created some momentum to challenge what we have been told since 9/11: we need to forfeit freedom for security.
The NSA has reported that no terrorist operation has ever been disrupted as the result of the widespread monitoring of every American citizen and their electronic and phone contacts. In other words, the massive amount of personal data that the NSA collected from secretly (and probably illegally) spying on you and me has proven irrelevant to the so-called “War on Terror.”
Meanwhile the Snowden incident has proven how easily anyone with access to the data can use it for whatever purpose they want. Even though the massive, multi-billion dollar spying on us has not prevented one terrorist attack, Senators such as Diane Feinstein and Carl Levin defend the illegal spying as necessary to protect us (proving that there is really no degree of difference from Bush/Cheney).
The CIA is also being rocked by revelations of employees contracting with freelance spies without authorization and lying to Congress about those operations. Another report on an internal review of the CIA reveals that no meaningful information was ever gathered by their torturing (i.e. harsh interrogations) of captured human beings. Torture was another violation of our laws and values that was justified by the need to stop terrorism.
I have been talking with you all for years now about the use of fear to erode our liberties. I guess the other foot has dropped insofar as it looks like we sold our freedom for a false security.