Quote of the Day: NSA Leak Creating Strange Political Bedfellows

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Ben Cohen
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Andrew Sullivan on the bizarre political alliances emerging over the NSA leaks scandal:

What has emerged in the past few days is a fascinating snapshot of a shifting political landscape. On the one side, we have a libertarian-civil liberties left alliance. On the other, a strange world where Bill Kristol and Joe Klein are on the same page. Personally, I think it’s a shame that this alliance has emerged over PRISM because it seems to me to be one of the less worrisome anti-terrorism policies. My general inclination is to back the liberaltarians on these questions, but I have never been a purist, appreciate the political balances required and wish this debate were not also wrapped in accusations of treason and heroism.

I'm with Sullivan on this - the traitor/hero debate is getting a little tiring given both sides are unwilling to move an inch and accept the other has a legitimate point. To me, Snowden did what he thought was right, and genuinely believed he was acting in the best interests of the citizenry. Those who believed he committed a crime are not wrong either - he technically did, and whether or not you agree with it, he broke laws designed to protect Americans. Of course the legitimacy of those laws are highly debatable, but they were passed by Congress and the White House is obliged to follow them.

There is a wider debate to be had over wiretapping and privacy, and sadly it is getting drowned out by hardening positions that make no room for compromise and are in many cases, driven by agenda. As Sullivan says:

I’m not shocked by PRISM. But if the president began to argue that he thinks it may be time to retire such and similar programs – and he already has – then he could leave a civil liberties legacy much better than the one that now seems likely. So while defending his past practice as justifiable, I have two words for those on the right and the left who want to unwind our overweening security state: Make him.