The Mother Of All “To-Be-Sure” Paragraphs

Jeff Rosen has a very persuasive – and very damning – analysis of the Obama administration’s legal defenses of its NSA spying. They make Bill Clinton look straightforward and honest. They even come close to Bush-style newspeak in their interpretation of the word “relevance”.

I must say that as the scrutiny increases – and Jeffrey’s piece is an overview of the administration’s own August 9 White Paper – I find my own ambivalence shifting to opposition to these programs. I don’t regard this as an abstract ideological issue. I see it as a tough cost-benefit analysis: do the counter-terror advantages of mass surveillance outweigh the damage done to our privacy and freedom? I’ve been listening to this debate carefully – and it seems to me that the anti-NSA arguments are increasingly convincing. These practices need to be reined in – or the law needs to be changed to make the over-reach explicit. And somehow I don’t think there’s a majority for the latter.