Senator Rand Paul’s crusade against the NSA’s Section 215 metadata program, now successful, has made him an icon to libertarians and anathema to securitarians. He isn’t fully either, for his rhetoric—like that of his adversaries—is incomplete. This battle between libertarians and security hawks needs resolution by Burkeans, who can add a needed dose of prudential balance to the debate.
The easy shot against Glenn Greenwald’s No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the U.S. Surveillance State would be to dismiss its warnings as immoderate and overwrought. “Converting the Internet into a system of surveillance,” he declares nearly off the bat (6), turns it “into a tool of repression, threatening to produce the most extreme and oppressive weapon of state intrusion human history has ever seen.” Similarly, “[t]he US government had built a system that has as its goal the complete elimination of electronic privacy worldwide.” (94) These are bold claims on which to deliver. And yet, piling evidence atop evidence, Greenwald does.