Did Edward Snowden place too much faith in the American system of government?
When Snowden first met with Greenwald, he emphasized that his biggest fear about blowing the whistle on the largest surveillance scheme in human history was that nothing would come of it.
Now, just less than a year out from when the first story dropped, and Congress is about to take the wind out of the sails of any serious NSA reform effort.
In an attempt to placate American's concerns over the scandalous stories about PRISM, XKEYSCORE, MYSTIC, SOMALGET, and my personal favorite LOVEINT (code named for when an NSA analyst would query their lover or ex), the House will vote on an extremely watered-down version of the USA FREEDOM Act (USAFA).
This legislation was sold to the American people as the reform that was necessary to stop the NSA's blanket surveillance of American citizens. It won't.
After first being watered-down in the Judiciary Committee, the administration, along with House leadership, insisted on further changes this weekend that led Rep. James Sensenbrenner to file a new manager's amendment at the House Rules Committee today, to be voted on as a substitute amendment on the House floor.
You have to hand it to the political establishment. If they get away with this and the American people and their representatives simply accept it as "the best we can do," then the best opportunity for serious reform of the surveillance state since the Church Committee will have come and gone with nary a whimper.
If that happens, it'll be a shame that 30-year-old Edward Snowden threw his life away for barely a year's worth of public debate.
But I wanted to share with you something from John Whitehead, founder and President of the Rutherford Institute. In his letter to the House of Representatives, Whitehead wrote:
It is not enough, as the House of Representatives prepares to consider the
USAFA, to dwell on the proposed legislation’s shortcomings. Without a proper
understanding of the Fourth Amendment and its historic context, as well as a
straightforward accounting of the many ways in which that vital safeguard against
government abuse is being violated, any attempt by Congress to legislate a solution will
be futile, little more than a band aid on a gaping, festering wound.
In an attempt to educate members of Congress (an exercise in futility if there ever was one), Whitehead attached The Rutherford Institute's historical analysis on the Fourth Amendment, which I've attached in full below.
While educating Congress might not be worth much, it's important in times like these to remember what Jefferson wrote to Charles Yancey in 1816, "if a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilisation , it expects what never was & never will be."
Tags: NSA, USA Freedom Act, Snowden, John Whitehead, The Rutherford Institute, Greedwald