The NYT this morning is reporting that NSA is being pestered by other government agencies, clamouring for their data (and in some cases, getting it). This is all coming out because the Snowden leaks have made it possible to talk about it, but the fact is, those other government agencies have always wanted in on NSA’s surveillance data on US citizens. It’s an organizational imperitive. If there’s a tool that will help you do your job better, then you want to use that tool.
Better, of course, means “more convictions”, not “protect American values.” Convictions can be measured and therefore have become the standard. Safeguarding the rights of Americans can’t be easily measured, can’t be reduced to a sound bite for an appropriations committee, and so becomes irrelevant.
This is the slippery slope. This is why the various NSA programs should be prohibited. It’s not that NSA is a rogue agency, ’cause it’s not. It’s that elements within all three branches of the government conspired to make legal that which should never have been made legal.
Will shutting down these programs increase the risk? Certainly. Will shutting down these programs lead to increased American deaths? Most likely. But Americans have always been willing to accept risks, and to die, in support of freedom and, let’s say it “the American way of life”. Because that’s what’s under attack right now. Al Qaida, for all their chatter, poses no great threat to the US, not compared with, say, furniture. But NSA, FBI, DHS? These are the real threat. These are the organizations whose chatter we should be listening to.