But even in the Daily Beast the truth comes out:
Clapper also acknowledges that the very human nature of the bureaucracy he controls virtually insures that more mass disclosures are inevitable. “In the end,” he says, “we will never ever be able to guarantee that there will not be an Edward Snowden or another Chelsea Manning because this is a large enterprise composed of human beings with all their idiosyncrasies.”
So… Why is a man permitted to collect all our data when he tells us outright that he can’t keep the data safe? As Conor Friedersdorf comments on this statement in the Atlantic:
The NSA has collected information about the communications of millions of Americans. Nefarious actors, given access to metadata from the phone dragnet alone, could blackmail countless citizens and quietly manipulate the political process. The NSA doesn’t deny that. They just insist that they’re not nefarious actors, that safeguards are in place, and that we should trust them as stewards of this data.
Well, here is Clapper telling the truth: Despite regarding Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden as having done grave damage to the United States with their data thefts, he can’t guarantee the same thing won’t happen again. And if a future whistleblower could gain access to the most sensitive data, so could a blackmailer.
So could a foreign spy.
So we have an agency collecting data on all of us that could easily be used for blackmail purposes, and the only response we get is that the NSA would never misuse the data. But these same people who are all angels who will never misuse the data are also all “human beings with all their idiosyncrasies.” Thus, that means some of them are virtually certain to misuse the data.
How does this make us safe?
Furthermore, if Clapper can’t even guarantee privacy because he can’t really be sure some other person working with the data won’t steal and reveal some of it, then what about the future. Clapper’s inability to promise good behavior from NSA agents means he also is unable to predict the future uses the NSA will serve. Some future president or NSA chief might use the data in an unethical way. Since his job is highly secret, no one will know what he is doing, at least not right away.
So Clapper has forthrightly admitted to us that he has created in our midst an irresponsible blackmail machine that is simply waiting for the next enterprising user. Furthermore, he admits this in a country whose founding documents speak of separation of powers and balance of powers. Does that not indicate that there is a discrepancy between the American Constitutional system and the NSA’s spy grid?
The NSA condemns itself. It doesn’t make us safer. It makes us more vulnerable.