Is there a silver lining in the hysterical reaction, on left and right alike, to NSA snooping?


I’m not sure that I fully agree with him, but Alec MacGillis makes a few provocative points HERE:

Put me in the camp that finds the outcry over this week’s revelations of NSA snooping a touch overwrought. The declamations are of course particularly rich coming from the right, given both the post-9/11 security state’s roots in the Bush administration, and the readiness of many Republicans to blame President Barack Obama for any plots that have been allowed to slip through our defenses. Yes, several high-profile conservative standard bearers are defending the National Security Agency’s surveillance, but other Republicans have not been able to resist scoring points off the moment. Some of the outcry on the left has been equally tedious, suffering from the sort of grandiose abstraction that one normally associates with late-night college-dorm bull sessions: “Dude, they might be watching us right now!…” Based on what we know so far of the NSA surveillance, I can’t help but incline toward the contextualization in today’s Wall Street Journal editorial: “The critics … say the NSA program is a violation of privacy, or illegal, or unconstitutional, or all of the above. But nobody’s civil liberties are violated by tech companies or banks that constantly run the same kinds of data analysis. We bow to no one in our desire to limit government power, but data-mining is less intrusive on individuals than routine airport security.”

All that said, I welcome the uproar. It is a sign that we are moving, belatedly, beyond a permanent-war mindset that for a while now has been neither justified by global reality nor healthy for the country. Over and over, even as the troop drawdowns began in Iraq and then Afghanistan, we were told we were a nation at war. It was a stance that justified rampant remote killing from the skies above Waziristan and Yemen and, at home, the sprawl of a huge and lucrative new security-industrial complex in which 850,000 Americans hold top-secret security clearances. Few dared call the latter what it was: a massive overcompensation for the utter failures that preceded the September 11, 2001, attacks…Yet rather than simply address the obvious flaws in our turf-obsessed apparatus, we went about building a leviathan far beyond even what we had deployed against the nuclear-equipped Soviet Union, all to fend off the next Mohamed Atta. We were like the boy bouncing up from a schoolyard blow: “9/11 didn’t count. Betcha can’t hit us again.


This is no way for people in the most powerful nation on earth to view the world around them, but the reaction to the NSA revelations suggests it is starting to shift. We now have people like Rep. James Sensenbrenner, the conservative Wisconsin Republican who introduced the Patriot Act in 2001, saying that the NSA’s phone-record seizures went beyond even what he had ever conceived of. Yes, chances are he would not be speaking out as strongly if these disclosures had occurred under a Republican president, but that’s politics. If reining in our security-state mindset and leviathan counterterrorism apparatus requires a Democratic president to be attacked not un-hypocritically from the left by Republicans, then so be it.



  1. “Transparency” has been taken to new heights by obama and his Brown Shirts
    in his most recent scandals. Even Bob Beckel, a way Left Liberal, called the Obama targeting (of Conservative groups via IRS ) and the AP snooping as…. “Fascism” !!

    The criminal Liberal Elite are on the …Move…on . org.

  2. Karl thinks Bob Beckel is “a way Left Liberal.”

    But then, this is the same Karl who once told us that President Obama is “a Marxist Muslim.”

    Wingnuts like Karl are my favorite kind — badly misinformed, transparently hateful and unwittingly funny. He’s much like the old Johnny Carson character, Floyd R. Turbo, as we see here:


  3. Karl thinks Bob Beckel is “a way Left Liberal.”

    But then, this is the same Karl who once told us that President Obama is “a Marxist Muslim.”

    Wingnuts like Karl are my favorite kind — badly misinformed, transparently hateful and unwittingly funny. He’s much like the old Johnny Carson character, Floyd R. Turbo.

  4. Robert

    “This is no way for people in the most powerful nation on earth to view the world around them, but the reaction to the NSA revelations suggests it is starting to shift.”

    If we’re the most powerful nation on earth, how come we can’t win any wars anymore? How come we’re still in the middle east in one war zone directly, Afghanistan, and indirectly still in Iraq because as far as I know we still have the worlds largest embassy there and although we don’t have combat troops on the ground, it’s my understanding we just changed the name of their mission. I can’t imagine we don’t have troops in that embassy to protect it. By the way, how’s all that freedom we went into Iraq to provide working out for them? How many die monthly in religious faction killings? The only reason we took out SH was because he wasn’t a friend to our “national interest” any longer.

    So, I go back to the original comment that started this response, what makes us the most powerful nation in the world? ……..We used to be. We can’t even win wars anymore. Because they’re not wars, they’re about coveting resources. Isn’t there something about that in the bible and in particularly, the 10 Commandments? How easily the religious folks forget about such things when it convenient to look the other way.

  5. I think you and your column are the real comedy channel; and are the brain washed
    result of your leftist opinions.
    My reference to Obama as a Marxist Muslim is my opinion; Bob Beckel is a self admitted
    Left Wing Nut just like you . He mad the Fascism statement on ” THE FIVE” last week
    in reference to the AP and NSA spying .
    Liberal Bob Beckel blasts White House: NSA nearing ‘fascism’
    By Cheryl K. Chumley
    The Washington Times
    Friday, June 7, 2013
    Bob Beckel, the liberal voice on Fox News’ daily political commentary show, “The Five,” issued a scathing criticism Thursday evening of the White House and the National Security Agency’s secret grab of Americans’ phone records.
    He made the comments after co-host Dana Perino read a New York Times‘ editorial that slammed the White House as losing all credibility and asked Mr. Beckel if he thought the issue was really that serious.
    “I think it is one of the most outrageous examples of the stepping on the Constitution I’ve heard. They have no right to the phone records. … It is illegal, it is unconstitutional, and it is deplorable. I didn’t like it when they did it during the Bush administration, and I don’t like when they’re doing it now,” Mr. Beckel said on the broadcast.
    “They have taken this Patriot Act, which I think was the most dangerous act passed, and they have taken it and abused it,” he continued. “You talk about fascism? You’re getting damn close to it.”
    As you might have noticed the (Liberal Rag ) NY TIMES said the Obama administration “has lost all credibility”; but then later softened it to the phrase “on this issue”.
    You dip into the Liberal talking point cesspool every hour to come up with the sheep food that the lame stream media puts out every day.
    You , are exactly like proven Liberal liar Dan Rather ; a real joke as a journalist.

  6. TRUTH HAS NO AGENDA and Pat is a merchant of Liberal misinformation.

    Case dismissed!

  7. Poor Karl! What a sap!

    He’s never going to live down the comment in which he called Obama “a Marxist Muslim.”

    What kind of Marxist presides over record-high corporate profits and record-high stock prices?

    Poor Karl!

  8. Brian Opsahl

    Well Karl…it’s pretty clear where your source of information comes from….fox news is the biggest news liars on the planet…and here you are quoting them…idoit…!!

  9. Brian Opsahl

    Is Karl related to the Marx family…?

  10. Pat.
    The Liberal moron village deflects..deflects. deflects.. . and you bring in Brian Opsahl for help?? Hey Brian, are you related to the tavern/pizza empire ??? Yuck!!! I think my dog are there once and died …Go away, “idiot”

    Now , for Patty the Liar. Where is your defense of the crap above that you spew. Bob Beckel and the NYT still contradict your stand . The whole world of Patty Cunningdope is in wait of your apology for Lying and avoiding the Truth.

    Get a paper route you Idiot.

    I am wasting no more time on morons like you and your sheep..brian and the dope knauss from the left coast.

  11. Karl: I don’t “bring in Brian Opsahl” or anyone else.

    I don’t even know Brian Opsahl.

    Every single comment ever published on this blog has been entirely voluntary. I have no way — and no inclination — to privately communicate with the people who submit comments here.

    As for your promise to waste no more time with us, that’s fine with me. Perhaps you’d feel more at home at some Web site that specializes in wingnut nonsense. There are lots of them on the Internet.

  12. Pat, I will answer you one more time on this issue.

    You have yet to answer any of my assertions (facts) on this issue, as well as the publicized
    concerns of the liberal left of the wrong doings of the Obama admin.. You only deflect and attack which is on par with your party ops as a liberal. Face the facts.

    You and I are cannon fodder to the liberal elite movement and if you think they will take care of you, or any of us ; you are Dead wrong.
    You are drowning in the puke you spew and don’t realize it.

    It’s the new world……..stand and fight or go quietly into the night.

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