A Few Thoughts on PRISM

Carol Platt Liebau
Posted: Jun 10, 2013 8:59 AM

Without specialized knowledge, it's genuinely hard to know what to think about PRISM.

On the one hand, it's deeply unsettling to know that an administration that has shown a decided tendency to harass and abuse its critics could even potentially have access to personal information about Americans.  It's hard to have any sympathy for President Obama as torrents of criticism from across the political spectrum rain down on him, given his hypocrisy and exploitation of similar issues in his political campaigns.

On the other hand, none of us wants another day like 9/11/01, ever again.  It's hard for any of us without special security clearances to know exactly the information to which the government has access -- whether it's metadata or actual data.  And it would be tragic if conservatives' legitimate concerns about privacy and government power were simply exploited by those on the left who have long been opposed to using any meaningful methods to combat the threat of Islamofascist terrorism.

Perhaps the crowning irony would be -- as Micky Kaus posited  before the emergence of the leaker -- if this were a scandal that ended up helping the President by distracting attention from entirely obvious abuses of power and wrongdoing, like the IRS scandal and Benghazi.

Some caution in evaluating the claims and counterclaims are in order.  Let's make sure our quest for security doesn't end up undermining our liberty in profound and irretrievable ways -- but let's also make sure our (absolutely justified) mistrust of the President doesn't lead us to embrace policies that will ultimately result in the needless deaths of innocent Americans.