Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Case Closed; Our View; Liberty vs. Security? Americans Not Interested

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Case Closed; Our View; Liberty vs. Security? Americans Not Interested

Article excerpt

In an accident of both timing and geography, the trial of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is being held this week in the garrison courtroom at Fort Meade, Md. A couple of miles across the base is the headquarters of the National Security Agency.

Thus are joined the two biggest national security leak stories since the New York Times began publishing excerpts from the Pentagon Papers 42 years ago this Thursday. As it happens, Daniel Ellsberg, the Rand Corp. consultant who leaked the study of military decision- making in Vietnam to the Times, is still alive. He's been hailing as heroes both Pfc. Manning and Edward Snowden, the NSA consultant who last week leaked details about the agency's electronic surveillance of U.S. citizens.

Mr. Ellsberg never went to prison; the conspiracy and espionage case against him was thrown out oh, the irony after the judge learned that he'd been wiretapped illegally. For unloading hundreds of thousands of classified cables and war records on Wikileaks, Pfc. Manning could go to prison for life. Mr. Snowden knows that he, too, could go to prison, which is why he's gone to ground in Hong Kong.

All three men said they were motivated by their duty as citizens to expose what they viewed as wrongdoing by their government. This raises a multitude of questions that deserve a vigorous national debate. That debate almost certainly will not happen, and that's a pity.

On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, having spent the weekend with his finger to the political winds, said of Mr. Snowden, "He's a traitor."

"The disclosure of this information puts Americans at risk," he said on ABC's "Good Morning America." "It shows our adversaries what our capabilities are. And it's a giant violation of the law."

The last bit is true. The other two claims are specious. America's enemies already knew what the NSA capabilities were; that's why there were no cell phones or computers in Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad hideaway. What's different now is that Americans know what most of them already suspected: The government is listening. …

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