An old journalism saw goes like this: Dog bites man, no story. Man bites dog, story. Allow me to update it. Government monitors email and telephone calls for national security, no story. Government doesn’t do anything of the kind — now, that’s a story.
Clearly some awfully good newspapers and some awfully good reporters disagree. In the last week it’s been raining stories about what the busybody government has been up to. The National Security Agency has been monitoring telephone calls and emails — and even social media stuff of the sort you shouldn’t have been doing anyway. To this, a whole lot of people have expressed shock. Oaths to the Fourth Amendment have filled the air. Unreasonable searches are simply unconstitutional, they assert — without asserting that anything has in fact been searched or seized. It has merely been noted and, if suspicious, referred to a court for the appropriate warrant.
The programs certainly can be abused. (So can local police powers.) But oddly enough, proof that this has not happened comes from the self-proclaimed martyr for our civil liberties, Edward Snowden, late of Booz Allen Hamilton, the government contractor that ever so recently employed him. (I assume he’ll be summoned to HR.)