Catch 22

The president “welcomes a debate” about the surveillance state, but we’re not allowed to actually mention any of the details. Freedom!

WASHINGTON — Edward J. Snowden said he had leaked secret documents about National Security Agency surveillance to spark a public debate about civil liberties. President Obama, while deploring the leak, endorsed the same goal of a vigorous public discussion of the “trade-offs” between national security and personal privacy. “I think it’s healthy for our democracy, “ he said on Friday of the prospect of re-examining surveillance policy.

But the legal and political obstacles to such a debate, whether in Congress or more broadly, are formidable. They only begin with the facts that the programs at issue are highly classified and that Mr. Snowden is now a hunted man, potentially facing a prison sentence for disclosing the very secrets that started the discussion that Mr. Obama welcomed.

On Monday, the White House spokesman, Jay Carney, was pressed about just how the surveillance dialogue the president invited might take place.

Asked whether Mr. Obama would himself lead the debate or push for new legislation, Mr. Carney demurred. “I don’t have anything to preview,” he said, adding that the president’s major national security speech May 23, before the N.S.A. disclosures, showed “his interest in having the debate and the legitimacy of asking probing questions about these matters.”

Steven Aftergood, who runs the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, said: “If President Obama really welcomed a debate, there are all kinds of things he could do in terms of declassification and disclosure to foster it. But he’s not doing any of them.”

Nor is it clear that political pressure from either Congress or the public will be sufficient to prompt the administration to open the door wider on government surveillance.

5 thoughts on “Catch 22

  1. Yesterday Susan Rice convened a meeting of the Neo-Con Round Table to discuss sending lethal weapons to the Syrian (al Qaeda) rebels. That Obama did do. Obama doesn’t have enough problems with his Attorney General assisting the NSA to operate its police state out of his office? So now he wants to get neck deep in the sectarian, proxy war in Syria? Obama is either the dumbest man on the planet or he really ‘is’ the anti-Christ. Either way he’s on the road to his own self-destruction.

  2. Joseph Heller summed it up perfectly in the “Great Books” series when he said, “Catch-22 means people have the right to do to you anything which you cannot prevent them from doing to you.”

  3. Want to know the legacy of this Administration?

    Take the phrase that shows up in the next to last paragraph of the article, and make it just a bit more generic:

    “… there are all kinds of things he could do in terms of… But he’s not doing any of them…”

    And then just fill in the blank with any issue you can think of.

  4. “Either way he’s on the road to his own self-destruction.” ~~ Imhotep

    Too bad he’s taking the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party down with him. But that’s part of the plan, I figure. He was pushed forward to be president at this particular time to not only protect and defend the Big Banksters, Mega Corporations, and the UberWealthy but also to make it possible for a Republican to retake the presidency and R’s to keep Congress.

    We are so screwed.

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