Every new revelation of NSA surveillance is a new affront to basic privacy, and goes far further than anyone had dared to imagine. Every time, the White House is there to defend it.
So when the New York Times revealed over the weekend that the NSA has for the past 3 years been using its wholesale data collection from American citizens to construct elaborate maps of “social connections,” it was only a matter of time before the White House shrugged it off as perfectly legal and reasonable.
The program is about as unreasonable as it gets, with the agency using metadata, GPS locations and voter records from ordinary Americans to figure out who is friends with who, and connecting people indirectly to others of “intelligence interest.”
It’s sort of a George Orwell meets six degrees of Kevin Bacon program, and is exactly the sort of obscene, grand scale privacy violation that the administration had repeatedly assured Americans the NSA would never think of doing.
But now that the cat is out of the bag, the story has changed, and White House spokesman Jay Carney, while refusing to discuss the specifics of the program, insisted that finding out who you might currently know, or conceivably meet from a friend of a friend, is a vital national security interest.
While the White House has at times expressed support for the “dialogue” ongoing with respect to the NSA’s abuse of privacy, they likewise seem outraged by every new leak, saying that informing the public of just how violated they are is itself a major crime.