a reply to: Kandinsky
The reason I recommend the boil down here, is that these matters are largely to do with morality, ethics and the value placed upon abstract concepts
by citizens, rather than being a matter of pure fact.
If the citizen values their liberty more highly than he or she values their security, then they ought to have the right to force government to place
the same value on their liberty, and do absolutely NOTHING to infringe upon it, without absolutely precise probable cause.
The problem with trying to treat mass surveillance and the broader question of national security in anything other than a simplified manner, is that
dealing with the entire breadth of the beast is impossible, because its drivers are too many, its owners too numerous and their intentions too varied
and morally defunct, so much so that no one would ever be able to come to a reasonable conclusion, no matter how clued in they were.
The only answer therefore, is one which revolves around the importance placed upon the concepts of liberty and security, and which of these is
considered more important by citizens.
Also, with regard to metadata, I would argue that the existence of a database of such information can only have malign consequences with regard to
the freedoms and liberties enjoyed by a given population. A watched population is not free. A population whose privacy may be invaded without probable
cause is not at liberty. Liberty is not a scale, it is a binary situation. One either has it, or one does not. The citizen must have liberty, or else
whatever security they may have is worth nothing, because without liberty one does not have life, one has only existence and that is not acceptable.
As for mission creep, simply put, mission creep is not an accident. Where it occurs, it occurs having been deliberately manufactured by the sort of
people who make money from expanding programs, whether it be bombing campaigns and military interventions in the Middle East, or the creation of a
grand network of digital oppression and privacy invasion. Both scenarios do not come about as a natural progression in response to changing
situations, but as engineered consequences of deliberate action on the part of those who have something to gain from them.
What you said about whistleblowers is absolutely vital to understanding the true nature of the national security argument. Put simply, if the
national security infrastructure was morally adequate (not perfect or pure, just adequate) it would DEMAND whistleblowers be protected, no matter what
methods they use to get information to the people, no matter what information they share, or why. The understanding on the part of those making the
rules, would have to be that in fact, all information is in the national interest, and that it is upon the management of programs and agencies to be
certain that the MEANS justify the ends, and not the other way around.
In truth, ends never justify means. If ones ends are noble, the means by which they are achieved must verily GLISTEN with nobility as well, else the
chances are that the ends are as corrupt and evil as the means used to achieve them.