The NSA

By: Alyssa, Irma, Brittany, Megan

Position Statment

We disagree with the fact that the NSA should be tracking us on our devices. The NSA shouldn’t know our location and personal information because some of us would rather keep that information to ourselves. There are a lot of bad things with the NSA including the fact that NSA surveillance is legal. The most scary things known about what they can do is they can track bank transactions. They can also set up listening posts on the roofs of a building. They can also install SIM cards to control a phone. There is plenty more things the NSA can do.

Glenn Greenwald was a lonely voice in the blogging wilderness, and Edward Snowden was an isolated functionary at the heart of the American national-security state. Snowden, desperately tried to tell his fellow Americans of the evils of NSA surveillance, revealed his secrets to Greenwald, Congress erupted, the entire world got angry, and Greenwald won a Pulitzer and a media contract from a billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar while Snowden became the most famous exile in the world.


Greenwald is becoming famous again, and Snowden is watching from Moscow, as his explosive revelations fizzle out politically. On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate defeated a motion to vote on the USA Freedom Act, harder-line Republican Congress doesn’t seem likely to pass the bill either, to the point where Greenwald lamented in blog post Wednesday that it was “self-evidently moronic” to rely on the U.S. government to fix the U.S. government.


Greenwald think that the courts, especially the Supreme Court, will do the trick, despite a Dec. 2013 district court ruling against the NSA’s phone-data collection program: “When it comes to placing real limits on the NSA, I place almost as little faith in the judiciary as I do in the Congress and executive branch.” He said. The big internet companies deliberately supported a watered-down bill “to point to something called ‘reform’ so they can trick hundreds of millions of current and future users around the world into believing that their communications are now safe if they use Facebook, Google, Skype and the rest,” he wrote.


Of course, Greenwald is suggesting that pretty much everybody—the whole republic—is failing him and isn’t going to deliver the changes he believes are necessary. considering that Snowden and Greenwald were, waxing triumphant about the way their revelations were changing the conversation. Their fundamental hypothesis: If only people could be awakened to the horrific extent of the national-security state, they could be depended upon to act on their own. “For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” Snowden told Barton Gellman of the Washington Post in December of last year. “As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself. … All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed.”

But “society” doesn’t appear now to be pushing much for change, and the “public” seems to have spoken on Nov. 4, the first time the nation had gone to the federal ballot box since the Snowden revelations broke. One of the less-noted messages out of the midterm election was that virtually every NSA supporter was re-elected handily, and some of the most vociferous proponents of tighter restrictions on surveillance, Even more to the point, an issue that only a year ago had Congress in an uproar—with members getting earfuls about NSA intrusions at constituent town meetings—was almost a complete issue in the election, the first to be held since the Snowden revelations. Very few candidates brought the NSA up.


For one thing, the NSA has begun internal reform under the direction of the White House, although Obama left to Congress such critical issues as how the NSA should collect telephone metadata. Meanwhile the rise of new violent Islamist groups like ISIS, with their seemingly regularly scheduled beheadings of hostages, has given NSA hawks new ammunition.


Perhaps the more profound trend is that Americans just don’t seem to care as much as we once thought a year ago—an outcome that Snowden himself feared, once talking of “NSA fatigue.” The lingering concern over NSA surveillance has become diluted by a general sense of resignation over the loss of privacy. We already live in an EZ-Pass world, one in which we are willing to let the government keep a record of everywhere we drive in exchange for the mere convenience of getting through the toll booth more quickly. We shop online despite knowing that the commercial world will track our buying preferences. We share our personal reflections and habits not only with Facebook and Google but also (often unknowingly) with thousands of online marketers who want our information.