The NSA Phone Warrants, Reconsidered


How bad is the revelation that the NSA is collecting phone call information on pretty much every call in the country?

I’ve had a lot of fun on Facebook making fun of the NSA Phone Records Extraction, Acquisition and all-Knowing (Phreaking) program.  In the current context, that sort of dark humor is entirely appropriate for the somewhat casual, breezy atmosphere of social media.  A more serious appraisal is required here.

So, here are some of the better discussions I’ve seen in the last few days:

They represent a variety of opinion, and Lawfare in particular is going to have its teeth into this for a while.  Keep going back to it and Volokh for serious legal and policy reporting.

I mentioned above that in the current context, dark humor is called for. This administration has demonstrated a truly unique talent for politicizing just about every aspect of a formerly professional civil service.  Therein lies the danger of the current context.

As a conservative, and not a liberal or a libertarian, I want the War on Terror, or War on Political Islam, if you prefer, to be pursued as a war, not as criminal investigation.  It’s the main reason I want Gitmo to stay open, since we can interrogate enemies there without certain restrictions that they’d have here on US soil.  We need to figure out how to make sure that the government has the tools it needs to prosecute that war without being able to turn them on us.

This is tricky work, with plenty of judgment calls, trial and error, and changes of rules as some thing work and others work too well.  It’s the hard work of making government work, and having the discussion start with, rather than end with first principles.