Saturday, May 31, 2014

We Ain't Got Time For Questions

Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald puts together a list of 16 questions that Brian Williams didn't ask Edward Snowden, but should have.  Most of them are very good, good enough that they deserve to be posed to the major players on both sides of this issue.  For example, question number 7:

Technologically, the world has changed dramatically since the original adoption of FISA. With wireless and disposable phones and devices that communicate directly over the Internet, old-style wiretapping is no longer possible. The NSA maintains that, because terrorists often use phones for a single call and an email account for a single message before disposing of them, it would be impossible to identify their numbers and emails without the collection of metadata that allows for retrospective searches. Is the agency lying? And if so, what methods are you aware of that would allow for the discovery of those numbers and email addresses that do not entail the retrospective analysis of metadata?

That's actually the kind of question we need to be focused on.  What roles should the NSA be allowed to fill in 2014, and what boundaries should be placed on those roles?  This is a perfect example of the real debate over the NSA and the duties it should be allowed to pursue.  But there are some other issues involving Snowden that should have been asked.

Question number 10 is short, but very important:

Do you believe that surveillance in foreign nations is intrinsically wrong?

There are a number of people who would answer yes to that question, and of those I'm betting 99.5% are backing Snowden and his actions as necessary.

That leads into 11:

You say that you do not believe your actions damaged United States security and that the government has failed to reveal instances where it did. Two questions: What kind of analysis did you conduct to be sure that the information you were taking did not compromise security? And, secondly, given that journalists do not have security clearances, why did you think they were the best placed to determine what would compromise national security and what didn’t?

Is America allowed to even have a foreign intelligence service?  Because the distinct impression I'm getting is that singularly so, the United States is not.  The fact we have one is the root cause, many would argue, of our foreign entanglements.

And then there's 13:

Your passport was revoked while you were in Hong Kong. How did you get out and manage to fly to Russia?

Nobody seems to have an answer to this that I've heard.  I'd like to know.

Hell, there are a lot of things I'd like to know.  Maybe some enterprising journalist types should get on that.

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