Ryan J. Bell writes the following for the Huffington Post, excerpted briefly below. Click here to read the full article.
[box]We know that PRISM is not a surveillance program but a massive computer system used to crunch data. But the claim that anyone who refers to PRISM as a data-mining program should not be trusted cuts off the conversation. Whether PRISM is a secret or a data mining program or not, it still represents the NSA’s collection and processing of the data communications of millions and millions of Americans without probable cause.
It may be that Snowden exaggerated his claim that he could hack the president’s email if he had the address and that NSA personnel can listen to anyone’s phone calls. Maybe. But why should I take General Keith Alexander at his word any more than I take Edward Snowden at his? Because the general has a uniform? The argument that the NSA isn’t doing something illegal because there’s a law against it (namely, listening in on our calls and reading our email) seems to me like saying that there’s no way my daughter ate the cookie I left on the kitchen counter because we have a rule in our house that she may not eat between meals. I’m not buying it! Why chase Snowden to the ends of the earth and threaten him with charges of espionage and treason if his claims boil down to no big deal and things we’ve known about all along anyway?
And what is the big deal? If we have nothing to hide, we shouldn’t be so worried that the NSA is listening in to our calls to family and friends. But don’t forget that in 2006 the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker peace organization, sued the Pentagon “in the wake of evidence that [the Pentagon] had been secretly conducting illegal surveillance of protest activities, antiwar organizations, and individuals whose only reported ‘wrong-doing’ was attending a peace rally.”[/box]