the nsa debate

LeadColin Friedersdorf at The Atlantic:

In a review of Glenn Greenwald's No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, George Packer, whose best work is superb, makes a number of dubious claims. They are typical of liberal moderates who acknowledge that the NSA's behavior is worrisome yet direct their most scathing remarks at the people who revealed it, as if they are the ones who pose an ongoing threat to what is right and good. The liberal moderates present themselves as sober analysts striving for objectivity. They're careful to name excesses of the national-security state and its critics, but only the latter are subject to scorn, disdain, and ad hominem attacks. Sometimes I wonder if a formal etiquette guide to that effect is tucked into the seat-back pouches on the Acela Express.

Packer is best understood by beginning here:

Snowden is a libertarian whose distrust of institutions and hostility to any intrusion on personal autonomy place him beyond the sphere in American politics where left and right are relevant categories. A temperament as much as a philosophy, libertarianism is often on the verge of rejecting politics itself, with its dissatisfying but necessary trade-offs; it tends toward absolutist positions, which grow best in the mental equivalent of a hermetic laboratory environment.

more here.