Monday, June 10, 2013

Perfect criminal defense for Edward Snowden?

Daniel Ellsberg exposed classified documents to reveal past lying by government agencies -- tricky to defend.  Snowden stole documents to expose crime -- vast, dangerous violations of (hundreds of?) millions of citizens' Fourth Amendment protected privacy -- very arguably within anyone's right to carry out.

There is not (yet) a civil rights statute criminalizing Fourth Amendment infringements.  What Snowden revealed may not even fit (depending on which judge rules) Fourth Amendment infringement.  But, it it certainly represents the tip of the iceberg of such vast, ongoing infringement -- and that makes it a public necessity to get it in front of the nation.  

Security rules cannot force concealment of crime -- especially when the crime threatens the most basic freedoms of 300 million people.  At the least the evidence Snowden has argues "probable cause" of national class Fourth Amendment violations which investigation of must be forced forward by the revelations.

Probably the best book on madly expanding surveillance is TOP SECRET AMERICA by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin -- which describes a mind boggling extent of not just governmental but also extra-governmental (private contrator) machinery being put in place to gather information -- expanding at a rate that can only be described Parkinson's Law: "Work expands to fill the time available; expenses rise to meet income."

Neither does the book make out the FBI to be necessarily happy about all this.  They do the real work scooping up the bad guys while "top secret America" scoops up much too much funding and too many qualified (would have stuck with their government jobs) people.

[See next post on this blog for how easily -- almost necessarily -- a civil rights bill criminalizing Fourth Amendment violations can drop almost accidentally into our laps (the 1964 Federal Civil Rights Act criminalized conspiracy to infringe First Amendment freedoms).]

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