Simon, Revisited

David Simon defends his commentary from last week about Edward Snowden’s revelation of the NSA’s telephone metadata program.

We’ve read and heard quite a bit of protest alleging violation of privacy and government overreach in the wake of Snowden’s breach of security. The commentary has been heavy on indignity yet light on alternatives or improvements to the programs in question.

Telephone metadata reveals a picture of personal behavior, and yes, that can be misused by government and law enforcement personnel. Much of what police and the intelligence community are empowered to do can be misused. That in itself is not an argument against them. These programs serve a useful and necessary purpose and exist not in a void, but in the light of Congressional debate and judicial oversight. More light would be better. Curtailing these programs because there exists the potential for misuse would not.

Continual oversight and public awareness of the government’s argument for exercise of these programs are essential to keeping the use of these programs lawful.

As Simon previously has written, those airplanes really did hit those buildings, and people really have been murdered by terrorists vowing to do exactly that and more. We have yet to see evidence that NSA programs have violated Federal laws that were debated, voted upon and enacted, adjudicated and, in 2011, re-debated and renewed.