Friday, January 24, 2014

Private storage of secrets is a bad idea


    It’s not uncommon to follow up on a bad idea by deciding to replace it with a worse one. That is the route President Obama took last week in proposing to park data collected on the activities of private citizens with a private contractor.
    Thanks to revelations made by Edward Snowden, we know now that the National Security Agency has been collecting data from American citizens, reaching into homes and businesses across the nation to amass raw data about the calls of ordinary Americans. This invasion of private communications has been done in the name of national security, the justification always given for secret intelligence.
    It would be both foolish and dangerous to forget the attack on the Pentagon, the Twin Towers, or last year’s bombing at the Boston Marathon. There is no question that there are people who reside in the country, even citizens, who are more than willing to cause the rest of us harm. Find-ing those people is a noble end. Allowing the government a nearly unlimited right to spy on its citizens and compile data seems a dangerous means to that end.
    Assume for the sake of argument, as President Obama seems to, that collecting citizens’ private information is justified. Somehow, he believes that paying for a private company to house that informa-tion is preferable to having a federal agency retain ownership. H.L. Menken tells us, “For every problem, there is a solution that is simple, clear and wrong.”  
    The idea of wresting control of the security documents from the NSA and placing them in the hands of private contractors would be laughable except for the fact that those in the national security apparatus are actually seriously proposing it.
    No matter what you think about Edward Snowden’s actions, we know he worked not for the government, but for a private company. His security clearance was issued through a private contractor.
    This solution seems to stem from the often mistaken idea that private contrac-tors are always more efficient than government bureaucrats. It completely ignores questions about how to be sure a contractor would not invade the data for its own purposes, would have the exper-tise needed over time to do the job, or if it could resist a government demand to access the data anyway.
    If nothing else, Snowden should be a resounding refutation of the whole idea.
    The foolish theory that choosing to take secret information out of the hands of government and put it under the care of pri-vate companies will strengthen the nation and the citizenry is a theory whose time, we hope, will never come.




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads



 Local Weather 
Search archives:


Copyright © 2019 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.