The closure of over 20 United States embassies this week were the result, we were told by the administration, of credible intelligence of an increased threat of terrorism culled from the National Security Administration's massively intrusive data mining operation. The same operation that puts the liberty of millions of Americans at risk, whether any law abiding citizen has of yet been snared in the extra-constitutional net or not. And, of course, the timing of such a public announcement of a threat large enough to close almost two dozen embassies, and the credit for saving possibly hundreds of lives of U.S. diplomats being given to the controversial NSA snooping program, is at best a fortuitous coincidence for an administration that has recently been caught with its hand in liberty's cookies jar.
The unlimited net cast by the NSA in the sea of Americans phone calls and Internet transactions is similar to the general warrants issued by the British, which was one of the reasons the American colonists were so upset and went to war to break their ties with the motherland. But the current incarnation of general warrants is condoned and supported by some on the right, which is the most disheartening thing to anyone who values the Constitution of the United States. The reason that liberty and freedom have been sacrificed at the altar of security is that the Obama administration has transformed the intelligence gathering apparatus of the U.S. government into a data analysis operation. The number of actual agents on the ground mining for intelligence has been cut in half by the Obama administration and replaced with computer geeks who pour over yours and mine phone and Internet records looking for bits of information that use to be gathered with real honest to goodness spying.
The people doing the intelligence gathering now, for the most part, are people like Valerie Plame. Remember her? She was the so-called "spy" who the Bush administration was accused of outing, resulting in Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby going to prison for a process crime in an investigation that should have never taken place. Ms. Plame was not a spy as you or I might define that term, but was a desk jockey whose days were spent analyzing reams of raw data. And the fact that the Obama administration has increased the number of Valerie Plames in U.S. intelligence agencies, has made it necessary for the NSA to keep them all fed with data to analyze.
Supporters of the NSA program claim that it makes it easier to foil terrorist plots, thus keeping Americans safe. Easier than what? Having agents infiltrating terrorist organizations, developing relationships with human assets and tracking the phone calls and Internet traffic of those individuals actually involved in terrorism. Or are we now to accept the disappearing of our liberty anytime it makes it more convenient for our government to "protect" us? Even the most ardent supporters of the NSA data mining program could not make a credible case that the founders of this great nation would condone its intrusion upon the personal liberty of millions of Americans. There is nothing to be gained from safety at the expense of liberty, and no more intolerable a sin than that of government intrusion upon the private communications of Americans without just cause. We can no longer allow the carrot of security to be used by supporters of the NSA program in order to pummel the cause of liberty with the stick of tyranny,