Is that Ted Turner next to Skeletor in this artist’s rendering of the Illuminati? It doesn’t matter; when a convocation of power is secret, we from whom the secret is kept can let our imaginations run wild. Even if you don’t think the secret courts that approve NSA and FBI wiretapping requests allow the federal government abuse its power, you have to admit that they encourage mistrust. Secrecy is a double-edged sword. When you tell the American people that what you’re doing is completely legitimate and you can’t say why, a segment of the population* assumes the worst. In today’s Times, former FISA court judge James Carr proposes a simple solution: appoint pro bono publico attorneys to argue against the government when its requests raise new legal issues.
I think it’s fair to say I went a little craze-balls regarding the NSA thing. I maintain that’s because secretly collecting millions of Americans’ phone records is a historically craze-balls thing for the US government to do, but there are good arguments on the other side. Probably, the NSA doesn’t care about anything besides preventing the President from coming down into their spy basement and personally blaming them for another terrorist attack, and most of our metadata is collected by the waste basket. Almost certainly, the hypothetical Fourth Amendment value of our Facebook friends is not so ethically compelling as an explosion-free Boston marathon. Today is Friday, and the week recedes behind us in forced perspective. Won’t you take a step back with me?