"A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: and a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
' James Madison
Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, once made a really poignant point, and his point was that conflict in the system, either by legitimate checks and balances, or by a free and independent media, or through whistleblowers, is mandatory or else you cannot have a free and prosperous state, because you'll have an uninformed electorate.
Edward Snowden was trying to provide those checks and balances with his recent leaks to the press, which revealed our government is spying on us without our consent. I think Snowden was also trying to inform us voters to the fact that he had access to these classified documents while working for Booz Allen Hamilton, a private corporation. Why does Booz Allen Hamilton have access to citizen's private data collected by the government? Why is our personal data being exploited and shared by corporations and government, without our knowledge or consent, in direct violation of our 4th and 9th Amendment rights?
Justice Black once stated in the case of the New York Times Co. v. United States, "'paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell."
Just imagine if we had a Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden during the build-up to the Iraq war in 2001-2002, perhaps thousands of American soldiers would not be dead or severely injured today, not to mention the thousands of Iraqis killed in that war, a war based on lies and deceptions. A war most Americans supported because they did not have knowledge to form a proper opinion with, just propaganda from the State leading them to a false conclusion.
Justice Black also went on to say something I believe in completely, and what he said was, "'the guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our Republic."
And that to me is the crux of the problem we face here, if we cannot have a public discussion with fact based data about these classified domestic surveillance programs, we cannot have an intelligent electorate. If we cannot have an intelligent electorate, how can that electorate possibly vote for proper representation? They cannot.
Most Americans get that our country has a real need for legitimate classified operations (weapon systems, troop locations in live theaters of war, technological advances), but spying on innocent Americans doesn't fit that requirement. Nor can I see how creating an uninformed electorate is in the best interest and safety of our Republic, it cannot be.
Having an uninformed electorate leaves us vulnerable as voters also, we will not only pay higher taxes for these classified programs we are forbidden to know about, but those programs may end up sending us off to wars based on lies, where we might die or lose limbs; or those programs may end up sending us off to jail for crimes we never committed, and all of it done in secret.
If the government came out and said they stopped however many attacks, here is the data, and it saved X amount of lives ' then we as a Nation can have a proper discussion on whether the violation of our privacy is worth it, but without such transparency, we are forced into being ruled, not governed.