5:59 PM EDT, August 9, 2013
It's no surprise that Barack Obama thinks Edward Snowden was out of line in disclosing the secret surveillance programs carried out under him and George W. Bush. But his criticism today of the man behind the NSA leaks was deceptive and inaccurate.
Obama says even before the leaks, he proposed "a thorough review of our surveillance operations." Is he serious? I asked Laura Murphy, director of the ACLU's Washington legislative office, what he was referring to. "I have no idea," she said. "And I work on these things."
Besides, before the leaks, we had no idea how broad, comprehensive and intrusive those operations were. Even many members of Congress were surprised to find out how the administration has applied the relevant laws.
The president says he would have preferred "a lawful, orderly examination of these laws." Whose fault is it that we didn't have one? It's only because of Snowden that the administration's program has come under review. Before that, we didn't know what there was to review. And the secrecy was Obama's choice.
Snowden, he said, could have used a whistleblower protection order that Obama signed to get the information out. In fact, the measure would not have protected Snowden. He had no good way to break through the curtain of secrecy. So he chose to break the law and risk his freedom to bring some vital facts to public attention.
Obama says he's no patriot. A lot of Americans -- including many who voted for Obama -- would disagree.
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