5 reasons the NSA scandal ain't all that

I really do think tribal feelings determine how you view the significance of Edward Snowden's revelations. It is almost impossible not take into account everything associated with the manner that they were released: the dramatic flight to Hong Kong, then Russia; the dramatic differences in press freedoms in the U.S. and U.K.; the detention of David Miranda and the destruction of hard drives inside the headquarters of a newspaper. No matter how hard we try, we can't help but fail to segregate our judgment of the NSA's actions. We want to side with the side we identify with: civil libertarians, journalism, or with the intelligence community, with policy-makers. We accept their assertions and their evidence more than we do the assertions of the "other" side, even though this type of controversy does not lend itself to binary divisions.

I will make the case for why I think the NSA scandal is as bad as it sounds in a future post. Now, I want to make the case, somewhat simplified, that the Snowden revelations, and everything we've learned until this point, do not paint a picture that resembles anything Edward Munch might come up with. I will not qualify any of the reasons below with phrases like, "but of course, they could do much, much better" or "without a doubt, the NSA hasn't been nearly as forthcoming as they ought to be" or "of course Americans have a right to know more." I do believe all of it, and I'll save that for the next post.

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Marc Ambinder

Marc Ambinder is TheWeek.com's editor-at-large. He is the author, with D.B. Grady, of The Command and Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry. Marc is also a contributing editor for The Atlantic and GQ. Formerly, he served as White House correspondent for National Journal, chief political consultant for CBS News, and politics editor at The Atlantic. Marc is a 2001 graduate of Harvard. He is married to Michael Park, a corporate strategy consultant, and lives in Los Angeles.