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On Morning Joe this AM, they referenced the serious journalism of comedian John Oliver when in his show last night he interviewed security leaker Edward Snowden in Moscow. So I watched the show, which I record from DirecTV. In it, among other things, Oliver asked Snowden if a dic pic sent from a husband to his wife over the internet could be captured by the NSA, and Snowden answered yes, it could. Funny bit. But disturbing, in the sense of the degree of invasion of privacy the NSA can accomplish into the personal lives of ordinary Americans. Of course, the rationalization is that national security might require such invasions, on rare occasion, to protect the country from terrorists. Thus, we all must give up all, figuratively and literally, of our privacy for such protection. Excellent journalism, indeed by Oliver. Perhaps he deserves a Pulitzer Prize for journalism,for making plain the sacrifices we are all making, whether we realize it or not, for the sake of potential protection from terror. Of course, I became suspicious when the end of the Snowden interview was cut off by my video recorder, leading me to wonder, just wonder, if the NSA was blocking a portion of John Oliver’s Snowden interview, perhaps because they didn’t want America to discover what bald and bold truths were revealed in the final minutes of the show. Am I jumpy? Maybe. Do I have reason to feel that way? I think so.

With the recent and accelerating leakage of the convoluted plethora of national security  intelligence programs afoot in the land, maybe it’s finally time for Big Brother to come out of the closet and tell the American people how and why we are giving up so many of our rights to privacy. I’m tired of hearing from retired Admirals and former security people and frustrated hackers about all this. Let’s hear it directly and from the top. Is our government so afraid that the American people can’t handle the truth? If they are, they should either bite the bullet and find a way to tell it, or step down in favor of those willing to trust the electorate. If we can’t trust our leaders then they can’t trust us, and they won’t be our leaders for much longer. I’ve seen too much intelligence BS in my 70 years, from Vietnam forward, to believe that the rationale for our intelligence programs can’t stand the light of day. We don’t need to know all the details that would aid our opponents, but we do need to know the foundation of principles upon which our intelligence systems are based and regulated, and from whence the trustable oversight is coming.

February 2023

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