Does President Barack Obama think we’re stupid?
That’s the only conclusion possible after watching Friday’s bravura performance in which the president announced a set of proposals meant to bring more transparency to the National Security Agency — and claimed he would have done it anyway, even if Edward Snowden had never decided to leak thousands of highly sensitive documents to The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald.
But even as he grudgingly admitted that the timing, at least, of his suggestions was a consequence of Snowden’s actions, the president declared, “I don’t think Mr. Snowden was a patriot.” When you look at what has changed over the past two months, though, it’s hard not to wonder, “What could be more patriotic than what Snowden did?”
First, the results: More than a dozen bills have already been introduced to put a stop to the NSA’s mass phone record collection program and to overhaul the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has reinterpreted the Fourth Amendment in secret, creating a body of privacy law that the public has never read. A half-dozen new privacy lawsuits have been filed against the NSA. The Pentagon is undergoing an unprecedented secrecy audit. U.S. officials have been caught deceiving or lying to Congress. The list goes on.