Peter King: Why should members of Congress be exempt from NSA surveillance?

January 06, 2014 0 Comments

posted at 11:21 am on January 6, 2014 by Allahpundit

A morsel from the same interview in which he wondered whether Rand Paul would care if hundreds of Americans were killed in a new terror attack. I’m calling it now: Actual blood on the stage at the 2016 primary debates.

In a sense, this is Egalitarianism 101. When a reporter asks you, as a congressman, whether congressmen should have special privileges that the hoi polloi don’t have, the answer’s almost always “hell no.” Imagine the headlines if King had said instead, “Well, of course *I* should be exempt.” There’s an egalitarian alternative, though: No indiscriminate data-harvesting among either the public or its elected leaders. The takeaway here is that he’d rather keep mass surveillance going even if the price is licensing one branch of government to vacuum up dirt in the form of metadata on another. If you trust the White House and NSA now and forever not to exploit that dirt in Hoover-esque ways for political advantage, okay, but if we’re suddenly all about trusting government officials, why not simply trust that members of Congress aren’t dialing up terrorists? (I know, I know: “Homeland.”) Frankly, if there’s any member who was likely to be caught talking to a terrorist in the past, it’s King himself, no? Maybe that’s the answer — he supports the NSA because he, more than anyone, knows that this isn’t a ridiculous hypothetical.

One more (unrelated) NSA-related point via Robert Samuelson:

There is more than a little hypocrisy to the outcry that the government, through the National Security Agency (NSA), is systematically destroying Americans’ right to privacy. Edward Snowden’s revelations have been stripped of their social, technological and historical context. Unless you’ve camped in the Alaskan wilderness for two decades, you know — or should — that millions upon millions of Americans have consciously and, probably in most cases, eagerly surrendered much of their privacy by embracing the Internet and social media.

People do not open Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts because they wish to shroud their lives in secrecy. They do not use online dating services or post videos on YouTube because they cherish their anonymity. The Internet is a vehicle for self-promotion, personal advertising and the pursuit of celebrity…

If Americans think their privacy is dangerously diminished, there are remedies. They can turn off their PCs, toss their smartphones and smash their tablets.

Some people on Twitter are sneering that it’s dumb to conflate handing over your private info to Google with handing it over to the government. The government’s reach is longer and more sinister; Google can’t use what you give them to send you to prison (yet). But the whole point of Snowden’s revelations is that handing your data to Google or Facebook, etc, effectively means handing it to the NSA. Sometimes the NSA gets it with the company’s help and sometimes without, but it all ends up in Uncle Sam’s database. Knowing that, if people are deeply concerned about NSA spying, why haven’t we seen any mass movement to unplug, if not entirely then at least from the major telecom companies?


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