By September 2013, the NSA’s new data centre will employ around 200 technicians, occupying 1m sq ft and use 65 megawatts of power. Photograph: Rick Bowmer/AP
Let’s be absolutely clear about the news that the NSA collects massive amounts of information on US citizens – from emails, to telephone calls, to videos, under the Prism program and other Fisa court orders: this story has nothing to do with Edward Snowden. As interesting as his flight to Hong Kong might be, the pole-dancing girlfriend, and interviews from undisclosed locations, his fate is just a sideshow to the essential issues of national security versus constitutional guarantees of privacy, which his disclosures have surfaced in sharp relief.
Snowden will be hunted relentlessly and, when finally found, with glee, brought back to the US in handcuffs and severely punished. (If Private Bradley Manning‘s obscene conditions while incarcerated are any indication, it won’t be pleasant for Snowden either, even while awaiting trial.) Snowden has already been the object of scorn and derision from the Washington establishment and mainstream media, but, once again, the focus is misplaced on the transiently shiny object. The relevant issue should be: what exactly is the US government doing in the people’s name to “keep us safe” from terrorists?
Note from The Secular Jurist: Our readers may remember the authors from their roles in the Bush Administration where one exposed the yellowcake lie used to justify the Iraq War, and the other (his wife) was a covert CIA agent outed in retaliation. See their profiles here: Valerie Plame Wilson and Joe Wilson .