Here is a letter that I sent to the Wall Street Journal because the Journal persists in treating the data-privacy issue as though it were a matter of high principle – rather than an example of what happens when we elect corrupt and incompetent leaders:
Regarding the Daniel Henninger column of June 12, 2013 (“The Sum of All Fears”): the issues regarding the accumulation and dissemination of “private” information have been intentionally complicated by those seeking to manipulate them in service of their respective agendas. Here is the essence of the matter: most Americans would readily give their government extensive powers of surveillance, data collection, and data mining if they felt they could trust their government to use those powers wisely, cautiously, discreetly, and solely in order to obtain a substantially higher level of national security. The problem is that most Americans have gradually awakened to the sobering knowledge that they cannot trust the Obama administration to do much with those powers other than to exploit them for partisan political purposes.
It is a fundamental conceit of the Left that there is no problem, no project, no objective that cannot be addressed successfully through the intelligent application of the powers of government – i.e., “central planning.” As we now know, that thesis is a fallacy, one that leads inevitably, in the case of Mr. Henninger’s subject, to a classic false dilemma: the proposition, recently reiterated by the President, that one must choose between national security and individual privacy and liberties.
It is impossible to compose laws or regulations that would result in the application of wisdom, judgment, discretion, or morality in the use of our government’s surveillance powers. The only reasonable course is to invest our government with the powers needed for the successful provision of our national security, and to see to it that we elect or appoint government officials who are likely to exercise those powers wisely and sparingly rather than abuse them.