Jack Goldsmith isn’t worried about the NSA . He teaches at Harvard Law School and is a member of the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law so he’s pretty confident about where the United States is going when it comes to its security agency. He predicts the current outcry against snooping will die with the next national disaster: “the public will demand government action to remedy the problem and will adjust its tolerance for intrusive government measures.” (“We Need An Invasive NSA,” by Jack Goldsmith, The New Republic, October 21, 2013 pg. 10)
Goldsmith’s right. The nation would make demands on the government, “to do something,” in the wake of another 9/11. That’s how the Patriot Act came about. But is fear good public policy?
Goldsmith thinks it is. He reminds us that “ANYONE, ANYWHERE WITH A CONNECTION to the Internet can engage in cyber operations within the United States” (Ibid pg. 10) Look what Edward Snowden has done, he points out. But his bigger worry is what groups outside the country can do, groups with networks so large and complex that only a government network can combat them.
As far as I’m concerned, Goldsmith’s complaint against Edward Snowden is weak. Snowden didn’t gum up the works. He exposed the government’s collecting of metadata, a system so secret, members of Congress claimed to know little about it. If true, then bureaucrats and not our elected leaders are making public policy. That’s not how the government should work. When patriots set a course under the cover of darkness, no matter how well-intentioned, they can lose their way.
That’s not to say Goldsmith doesn’t have a point. Given the complexity of maintaining cybersecurity, citizens may have to endure more government surveillance than in the past. But they ought to know it exists and to what degree. What’s more, they ought to have a voice in shaping the ground rules. To allow NSA to run silent and run deep without any transparency requires the American people to put more trust in the government than they have done in the past. I hope my fellow Americans chose to stay vigilant. A little suspicion of our government is one of democracy’s strengths.
(Courtesy of finance.townhall.com)