Power Outages
16 July 2013

¶ Columbia law professor David Pozen takes a look behind the curtain from which the US is breathing fire upon Edward Snowden. (via The Morning News)

A trial could turn out to be much more than a distraction: It could be a focal point for domestic and international outrage. From the executive branch’s institutional perspective, the greatest danger posed by the Snowden case is not to any particular program. It is to the credibility of the secrecy system, and at one remove the ideal of our government as a force for good.

To do their jobs, the U.S. intelligence agencies must be able to keep secrets. But even more fundamentally, they must be able to sustain a democratic mandate. They need Congress to give them the money and the discretion to engage in clandestine activities. They need the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to approve their domestic eavesdropping. They need technology companies and allied governments to cooperate with them. They need voters to elect presidents and legislators who support their mission. They need talented young people to want to sign up.

We can only wish that Mr Pozen had taken care to remind readers that Snowden worked for Booz Allen, not the NSA.

¶ At Bloomberg Businessweek, Charles Kenny argues for shutting down the Department of Homeland Security. Boy, would that make sense! (via 3 Quarks Daily)

That’s unfortunate. Beyond the waste of money and the overregulation, the expansion of the homeland security state has created unnecessary fear among a population that should be able to trust its government to send accurate signals about risk. So let’s start sending the right signals. Shut down the DHS, and redistribute the agencies under its umbrella back to other departments, including the justice, transportation, and energy departments. Then start bringing their budgets into some sort of alignment with the benefit they provide.

¶ And, finally, Ta-Nehisi Coates calls the Zimmerman verdict for what it is. (@ The Atlantic)

It is painful to say this: Trayvon Martin is not a miscarriage of American justice, but American justice itself. This is not our system malfunctioning. It is our system working as intended. To expect our juries, our schools, our police to single-handedly correct for this, is to look at the final play in the final minute of the final quarter and wonder why we couldn’t come back from twenty-four down.

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