The Boston Herald, June 13, 2013
Ah, yes, the deification of Edward J. Snowden has begun.
Former presidential contender and ex-Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul said June 11, "We should be thankful for individuals like Edward Snowden and (Guardian writer) Glenn Greenwald who see injustice being carried out by their own government and speak out, despite the risk."
Apparently Snowden was a fan of Paul's as well, donating $250 to his quixotic 2012 campaign.
That same day a Boston Globe columnist called him "an American hero." Strange bedfellows indeed.
The high school and community college dropout who leaked information on the National Security Agency's surveillance program has at least done the agency one big favor — pointed out what a bunch of bumblers they are.
If a ne'er-do-well computer technician with a political agenda can get access to a supposedly super-secret Power Point presentation, what chance does that same system have against, say, Chinese hackers? And wouldn't it be amusing if in his zealousness to avoid prosecution in the U.S. by hopping over to Hong Kong he somehow had to submit to questioning by Chinese authorities. Yes, the possibilities of this little drama are endless.
And so again before we sing the praises of this twit, who like Pfc. Bradley Manning of WikiLeaks fame somehow needed his moment in the spotlight to wallow in his own self-righteousness, let us take to heart the words of the man who became Snowden's mouthpiece — writer/activist Greenwald, who broke the story.
Greenwald told The New York Times that Snowden "knew that in order for someone to do this story the way it had to be done" he had to be "in an adversarial posture vis-a-vis the U.S. government."
What more do we need to know about Greenwald and the Guardian.
NSA officials attempted this week to assuage members of Congress and reassure them they have been kept in the loop, while trying to determine what if any damage has been done by the leak.
The problem for the NSA and the Obama administration right now is that their credibility was already shot to hell. An administration that lied about Benghazi, that secretly acquired the phone records of The Associated Press and a Fox News reporter and presided over the politicization of the IRS has eroded the people's trust in their government.
That makes it all the more difficult for them to now say, "Trust us, we're the good guys."
The Providence (R.I.) Journal, June 13, 2013
DNA has turned into a useful law-enforcement tool. In the most high-profile cases, the genetic material has been used to exonerate people wrongfully convicted of crimes. But DNA has also grown into a popular tool for solving cold cases. Most states and the federal government permit its collection from people arrested for serious offenses.
In a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court last week upheld this practice. But the case it considered, Maryland v. King, raised troubling questions concerning civil liberties. The Fourth Amendment protects Americans against unreasonable searches, including the kind of DNA probe that Maryland allows. As Justice Antonin Scalia rightly noted in a blistering dissent, Fourth Amendment safeguards must come before the "noble objective" of solving crimes, desirable as the latter may be.
In 2009, Alonzo J. King Jr. was arrested in Maryland for threatening a crowd with a shotgun. A cheek swab let police match his DNA with evidence from an unsolved rape in 2003. King was convicted of that crime and sentenced to life in prison. But after pleading guilty to a reduced charge in the initial arrest, making it no longer a qualifying charge, he challenged Maryland's right to collect his DNA. The high court rejected his arguments. He also said the state had no reason to suspect him of rape.
For police departments and crime victims, the stakes are substantial. DNA has proved especially helpful in unsolved rape cases such as King's. Still, it must not become a tool for fishing expeditions against people who merely look guilty of something. All the states permit DNA collection from people convicted of felonies. This is a far more reasonable threshold than mere arrest. As it is, the court has unfairly penalized those who will be acquitted.
Rhode Island does not allow DNA collection merely on the basis of an arrest. It should maintain that position. Congress should weigh limiting the use of DNA by law enforcement, lest we wind up with a vast genetic database. In an era of eroding privacy, the Fourth Amendment has become more important than ever.