Wednesday, June 12, 2013

squandered trust

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Before there was Edward Snowden and the leak of explosive documents showing widespread government surveillance, there was Mark Klein - a telecommunications technician who alleged that AT&T was allowing U.S. spies to siphon vast amounts of customer data without warrants.

All the lawsuits prompted by Klein's disclosures were bundled up and shipped to a single San Francisco federal judge to handle. Nearly all the cases were tossed out when Congress in 2008 granted the telecommunications retroactive immunity from legal challenges, a law the U.S. Supreme Court upheld. Congress' action will make it difficult to sue the companies caught up in the latest disclosures.
The only lawsuit left from that bundle is one aimed directly at the government. And that case has been tied up in litigation over the U.S. Justice Department's insistence that airing the case in court would jeopardize national security. [Emphasis added]
And therein lies the hub of the current security-leak discussion: The government claims, "we can't tell you the secrets that would prove our case because that would cause too much harm. You'll have to trust us." But what trust the American public has had in its government has been sorely tested and frayed by, among other things, two wars that cost a trillion dollars and had no reliable or logical foundation; a Congress in thrall to the very big businesses that unleashed financial hardship on millions of people; and a Supreme Court which declared that corporations were allowed to throw as much unsupervised money at politics as they liked.

Trust that can be earned can likewise be squandered and such betrayals can turn into a bloody business.

Not only were there Mark Klein, Pfc. Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden, but, now, resurrected, there's also the harrowing case of Thomas Drake.

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