"That's why I find the Snowden controversy so frustrating. I realize many Americans don't trust their government. I wish I could change that. I wish I could tell people the amazing things I witnessed during my 30 years in the CIA, that I've never seen people work harder or more selflessly, that for little money and long hours, people took it for granted that their flaws would be scrutinized and their successes ignored. But I've been around long enough to know that deep-rooted distrust of government is immune to stories from people like me. The conspiracy buffs are too busy howling in protest at the thought that their government could uncover how long they spent on the phone with their dear aunt."Mossadegh. Diem. Allende. Iran-Contra. The ridiculous overestimation of Soviet capabilities. Lumumba. Castro. The Bay of Pigs fiasco and the catastrophic underestimation of dangers of the Missile Crisis. HTLINGUAL. The Gulf of Tonkin Incident. National security letters. COINTELPRO. The Pentagon Papers.
Where do you want me to stop?
Many U.S. citizens don't trust their government in large part because of the many times their government has been caught by its citizens with its pants down buggering the rentboy and has turned on its citizens with an angry look and shrieked "Who you gonna believe, me or your lyin' eyes?!"
The U.S. government's intelligence and defense agencies have had a pretty damn ugly record of internal and external skulduggery over the past half century. When you add in the times that they've been flat out mistaken, or have ignored or, worse, dismissed the likely blowback from their actions and have cost the U.S. blood and treasure as a result...or the times they have been misused or ignored by unscrupulous men in executive or legislative power...and you get a pretty high stack of reasons that many Americans SHOULD ask their government for a security deposit prior to handing them over the keys to the beach house.
Frankly, I tend to agree with Liepman, the author of the piece, that there is no such thing as "complete transparency" between a government and its people. Every nation does have enemies. Finding out what those enemies are up to, defeating them before matters come to open warfare, is the best possible mission for a nation's intelligence services. Much of that snooping and foiling must be done in secret. To be successful in these silent wars truth must, indeed, sometimes have a bodyguard of lies.
But, I'm sorry, the rest of his screed is some weak shit.
Given what we know the record of U.S. intelligence. Given what we know now about the people then in power when most of these "counter-terrorism" programs were set up. Given what we know of the tendency of any government, of ALL governments, to gather information about their own people and to use that information against those people that antagonize them.
There is no real reason to simply trust "...the lengths to which the intelligence community goes to protect privacy."
At the moment the question isn't really about the size, or shape, or nature of the bodyguard of lies. We will probably never really know any of that, just that the bodyguard is there and is actively seeking to hide the collection of information, some of which is likely to be our own. Intel insiders like Liepman can swear on the highest stack of Bibles ever piled up that they are really, really good people who really, really aren't going to use these programs to help government officials kneecap political enemies or in other unsavory ways such as to evade the legal requirements for evidence collection imposed on domestic law enforcement and their assurances are almost sure to be worthless.
The real question is, simply just exactly how much power over us we choose to give that bodyguard, and who can guard a guard that cannot be seen or heard.