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Garland Robinette

"The Think Tank" Host
Weekdays 10am-1pm

Twitter: @garlandWWL
Email: garland@wwl.com

Posts from June 2013


Garland: In the Snowden debate, fear trumps privacy

Edward Snowden is a traitor.

Edward Snowden is a hero.

How do you see the former government contractor who admitted to leaking information about massive surveillance programs?

If you say he’s a “traitor,” what personal belief do you base that conclusion?  You believe it because the government told you so?  Aren’t you in that vast majority that shows up in every national poll saying you don’t trust the federal executive division, congress and the courts?  Pew Research says trust in government is at historic lows.  But you trust them to collect your personal information?


When the government says, “Edward Snowden’s actions will cause deaths,” some ask how. The government says, “We can’t tell you.”  When the government says Snowden has harmed our defense against terrorists, and some ask how.  The government says, “We can’t tell you.”

If you stumble on the story of Brandon Mayfield you’ll find a former military man, lawyer, husband and father of three from Kansas.  The F.B.I said they found his fingerprints in Madrid after terrorists bombed a commuter train.  Brandon Mayfield had never been to Spain. 

Click here for the New York Times story about his ordeal and his $2 million settlement from the government. 

Mayfield’s family began to notice unlocked doors, screws taken out of home computers and a hard drive exposed. The FBI had been there, collecting bathroom DNA, nail clippings, cigarette butts and all computer information.  The feds were there because the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) gave them permission to do so.  

You might have heard President Obama assure us that FISA protects against violations of our freedom by law enforcement agencies.  Really?  The president was talking about the same court that last year got 1,856 requests to from those protecting us and approved all 1,856 requests.  Brandon Mayfield was wrongly imprisoned and terrorized by the government you trust/don’t trust, because of the FBI.  The FBI used their huge database of us, to pull up a wrong name; Brandon Mayfield.  How do we know? Spain told us so.  Spain felt that the fact that Mayfield had never been to Spain made the fingerprint hard to believe.  They checked around and found the terrorist that matched the fingerprint.  Mayfield got out of prison.  We paid him a $2 million dollar apology, but he said his family now lives with the threat of terror from our government….the same government that you trust/don’ trust.  Pretty safe bet Brandon Mayfield is not one of those that says, “If I haven’t done anything wrong, I’ve got nothing to worry about.”

Let me guess. You’re saying that was an isolated incident.  The head of the NSA said, “Snowden has caused irreversible damage to the security of America and our allies.”  So, that ends the conversation and the debate.  Continuance of such is a waste of time and energy. Why?  Fear will trump privacy.  Why do we have the first bi-partisan congressional chorus singing of the evils of Snowden when others who did the same are barely known?  (Click HERE to read the USA Today article:  3 NSA Veterans: We told you so)

Fear trumps privacy.  What member of Congress wants to be known as a Snowden defender when terrorists plant a dirty bomb, attack our utilities, or blow up a nuclear power plant?  You think maybe an opponent could use that to get themselves elected to their seat? Fear will trump privacy. Those few of us that don’t trust our government will blunt that concern (or eliminate it) because we too fear terrorism.  Fear will trump privacy, no matter what the debate. The debate, the conversation, have only one end game.  We will allow and back the government that we trust/don’t trust in order to be protected against something that the government can’t tell us about.

There is also one other contradiction of trust/don’t trust.  The only reason there is private information for the government to ask for is because we have volunteered it already to corporate third parties, corporations that track everything about us.  We say that’s ok, because we want stuff in return.  We want knowledge.  We want world access.  We have eliminated the conversation for which Edward Snowden says he sacrificed his world. Not because of trust/don’t trust.  Not because of hero or traitor….because of fear.
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