Glenn Greenwald has been right on top of this NSA story from the very beginning. He published a damning overview in The Guardian.
The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.
The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.
The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.
The NY Times has published an article that’s more on Greenwald than the privacy breeches. It mentions that he begin his blog in 2005 covering news of warrantless surveillance by the Bush administration…and now here he is, discovering that the Obama administration is doing exactly the same things.
But it also gives the last words to his ideological oppenents.
His writing has made him a frequent target from ideological foes who accuse him of excusing terrorism or making false comparisons between, for example, Western governments’ drone strikes, and terrorist attacks like the one in Boston.
Gabriel Schoenfeld, a national security expert and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who is often on the opposite ends of issues from Mr. Greenwald, called him, “a highly professional apologist for any kind of anti-Americanism no matter how extreme.”
Mr. [Andrew] Sullivan wrote in an e-mail: “I think he has little grip on what it actually means to govern a country or run a war. He’s a purist in a way that, in my view, constrains the sophistication of his work.”
“Purist” is one of those code words for “principled and honest”; “apologist for anti-Americanism” means he expects better of our own government’s administration. I really detest these lying conservative weasels who think it is in our country’s best interests to hide the underhanded crap our shadier elements perpetrate; these people make excuses for criminal activities that undermine our nation’s effectiveness and corrupt the goals towards which we should be working. You want to find a true anti-American? Look for someone who rejects any effort to uncover its flaws and correct them.
A perfect example: Barack Obama is meeting with President Xi Jinping of China. I’m sure Jinping welcomes the news that he’s negotiating with a country that has as little respect for individual liberty as his does.
The timing for Barack Obama couldn’t be worse. Just as he meets for the first time to forge a new diplomatic relationship with his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, a series of exposes on the secret surveillance programs of the US National Security Agency has presented a major distraction and eroded America’s moral high ground.
The meeting at a gigantic estate in California called Sunnylands is a chance for the two world leaders to establish personal rapport and find common ground, but it’s also inevitably a joust for diplomatic leverage. After months of leaked reports about Beijing’s cyber espionage campaign against US corporations and military targets in the lead-up to the Sunnylands meeting, Obama was expected to put cyber-security near the top of the agenda—and he probably will still do so.
But now Xi has an easy rejoinder to any criticisms from Obama: how can the US complain when has been caught running a large-scale data harvesting program? The NSA’s inclusion of Americans among its targets has raised the most controversy, but don’t forget that the program is purportedly aimed at foreigners—surely many Chinese among them.
As is common, I expect the superficial ideologues of both the right and the left to complain bitterly that the problem isn’t the crime of compromising American privacy, but the exposure of the rotten behavior by our government.