Thomas Friedman in NYT makes an excellent point:
Yes, I worry about potential government abuse of privacy from a program designed to prevent another 9/11 — abuse that, so far, does not appear to have happened. But I worry even more about another 9/11. That is, I worry about something that’s already happened once — that was staggeringly costly — and that terrorists aspire to repeat.
I worry about that even more, not because I don’t care about civil liberties, but because what I cherish most about America is our open society, and I believe that if there is one more 9/11 — or worse, an attack involving nuclear material — it could lead to the end of the open society as we know it. If there were another 9/11, I fear that 99 percent of Americans would tell their members of Congress: “Do whatever you need to do to, privacy be damned, just make sure this does not happen again.” That is what I fear most....
So I don’t believe that Edward Snowden, the leaker of all this secret material, is some heroic whistle-blower. No, I believe Snowden is someone who needed a whistle-blower. He needed someone to challenge him with the argument that we don’t live in a world any longer where our government can protect its citizens from real, not imagined, threats without using big data — where we still have an edge — under constant judicial review. It’s not ideal. But if one more 9/11-scale attack gets through, the cost to civil liberties will be so much greater.
I agree. I understand that different people will make the tradeoffs differently. The problem I have is with those who act as if there are no tradeoffs to be made. Sorry, but we do not advance the cause of civil liberties by demanding a collective pretense that all threats to our security are mere fabrications by Big Brother government.
If, God forbid, there is another major terrorist attack on this country, I will be one of those resisting the unreasoning mob mentality that follows. But it is far, far better to prevent the horror from happening. And I appreciate and respect those who are working every day to protect us.
The boastful, exaggerating Mr. Snowden, as he was hiding out from American justice in Hong Kong, said he doesn't want to live in a country that surveils its citizens' communications. So he moved to China? WTF? Seriously, that makes no sense, except to a stampeding media.