Six in 10 Americans … say Snowden’s actions harmed U.S. security, increasing 11 percentage points from July. … Clear majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents believe disclosures have harmed national security. … More than half of poll respondents — 52 percent — say he should be charged with a crime. … And 55 percent say he was wrong to expose the NSA’s intelligence-gathering efforts. … Most poll respondents think the NSA’s surveillance program intrudes on some Americans’ privacy rights — 68 percent say this — while 54 percent see intrusions on their own privacy, 49 percent count foreign governments as victims and 48 percent say this of foreign citizens. Among those who say surveillance programs intrude on their privacy rights or those of other Americans, a clear majority say such actions are unjustified. (
Stanley Milgram showed that most people are not moral, in any deep sense of the term. Their morality is a superficial consequence of the fact that they possess mirror neurons, and have been operant conditioned by evolutionary pressures to have a certain base-level of concern for the suffering of others. However, if it takes any effort to oppose the suffering of others (even unnecessary and destructive suffering), most people won't lift a finger to offer any help. Moreover, they won't even state their agreement (much less support) with the moral side of the argument.
And "voting for freedom"? Nope. Most people are simply too stupid and uneducated to do that. The Libertarian Party has been on the ballot since 1971, with a platform that almost perfectly offers the precise solution that American needs most: a reduction of state power.
But when it comes time to "decide" whether to support freedom or "free stuff" (stolen from other people), a decision isn't ever even made. Just a general slouching toward "free stuff," with shaky rationalizations made to stupid people who dare question their vote. You'll very quickly notice that if the person who is on the receiving end of those shaky rationalizations is highly-educated and therefore highly-libertarian, the people run away from his counter-arguments. They don't want to find out that they're wrong, and have been acting immorally.
So they perform the intellectual equivalent of a toddler putting their hands over their ears and screaming la-la-la-la.
See no evil, hear no evil, think no evil = mindlessly act as evil desires. Again, Stanley Milgram wrote the masterpiece on this subject. It's called "Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View."
The NSA violates US laws. They swore a oath to protect the constitution. That also straight betrayal. Snowden also believes he's doing the best or the US.
Snowden didn't dump hard drives into the cloud. He could have created real damaged if he wanted to do that.
Companies should practice good informational security and not lose their millions of customers credit card data like target did independent of what Snowden did.
There are a variety of ways to lose data. The CCC uses as informal measure of E-Government the amount of data about citizens that a government loses. There are a lot of people who want data and aren't as nice as Snowden and put all data online.
"My country right or wrong." Worth understanding. Probably worth understanding the forces that cause some people such as yourself (and myself) to disagree with its sense.
Being powerful is more important than being fair. Who cares if we are fair if we hold sway over only a small community in a rural area of Wisconsin?
And finally, what Snowden revealed has the confusing aspect that it initially sounds much worse than it sounds upon analysis. It initially sounds like NSA tapped all our phones and hacked all our laptops. On analysis it looks more like NSA recorded all our phone bills and sniffed all the internet traffic that went by publicly. So we preserve our initial emotional dudgeon even as the facts might be thought to calm it some.
And finally, the NSA does follow a process for determining whether these things are legal or not. Realistically, what NSA did is/was legal, but might not be popular if known to be legal. This makes it a form of civil disobedience on Snowden's part, an activity with a strong and noble tradition in the United States, where we built our government on the theory that governments tend to get carried away. But it isn't the same as "whistleblowing," and so we should understand that whistleblower protections were not available to Snowden.
Philby passed information to the Soviet Union. Snowden gave it to western media. Orwell's "Notes on Nationalism" could well describe Philby, less so for Snowden.
They both fought for a cause "nobler" than patriotism, and they both ended up in Moscow, which is evidently the best home for the kind of people Prof. Hansen, and most American academics, admire.
As much as I wish him luck, it would be nice to see Snowden caught and then successfully launch a 1st Amendment defense. My argument would be as follows:
You don't really believe this argument has the slightest chance to prevail, do you?
Only dazed utilitarians would blithely suggest (as both of you do) that a torturer ought to be pardoned.
(I quite enjoyed 24, but it's had a disastrous effect on public morality.)
I am reminded of an ingroup/outgroup proverb I picked up somewhere:
'When the axe came into the woods, many of the trees said, "At least the handle is one of us."'
The issue, surely, is not so much whether Snowden did the right thing or not, but whether this kind of surveillance is commonplace and whether there is any way this kind of invasion of privacy can be justified, if it is true....
There are extenuating circumstances that could justify that and I'm considering to what extent that would apply.
When is it permissible for a rule utilitarian to break a rule in favor of his personal utility calculation?
Ultimately, I don't think one can avoid the question of whether the U.S. intelligence establishment is fundamentally benign or malignant (or, of course, neither).
(For those like Robin, who tacitly answer "neither," Snowden shouldn't be an easy question.)
Robin elevates privacy rights to deontology. Where is the cost-benefit analysis? (Where is the call for a prediction market for relevant data?) Undertaking such an analysis—and relying on expert opinion for its facts—is, according to Robin, hypocritical. Once we agree the exposures have some beneficial consequences, we are apparently bound to conclude that Snowden acted rightly. We need not even consider adverse consequences. In place of their analysis, we get a straw man: Snowden should be punished for "making us look bad."
Robin's posting demonstrates what easy prey he is for idealism—when it follows a libertarian formula. In this instance, I happen to agree with his conclusion; but one expects more than ideologically appealing conclusions.
I appreciated this post for highlighting a concrete benefit to what Snowden did rather than an abstract benefit which is what I usually see: e.g. "He revealed an injustice!".
You're assuming they actually know for sure that there is a bomb and that the person they're torturing knows something about it. Most of the time at least one of those will not be certain so they are taking a substantial risk.
If it's expected that they'll get a pardon on finding the bomb, that is something like a guarantee. And an implicit guarantee is like a de facto modification of the law. I think even then they should serve their time.
Yes, they should definitely be willing to risk jail time. Doesn't mean they shouldn't get a pardon if it turns out there really was a ticking time bomb, but the decision to pardon should be made afterwards so the agent knows there's no guarantee they'll get a pardon.