What if I told you that the most pertinent social science subject -- one that affects every single one of us every single day -- is taught to only a select few? That would be absurd, right? Well, unfortunately this is no fiction. It is the state of legal knowledge in America, and it is profoundly troubling.
Soon we might see headlines asking: "Is Dianne Feinstein a whistleblower or a traitor?" It may already be a fact that Feinstein's speech yesterday blew a whistle on CIA surveillance of the Senate intelligence committee, which she chairs. But if that makes her a whistleblower, then Colonel Sanders is a vegetarian evangelist.
The President showed an understanding of the problems created by surveillance, but bolder leadership and strong action are required. We have no doubt those assigned to protect U.S. security want more information to do their job better, but that insatiable zeal for more information is where we get into trouble.
In my judgment the existing program is unconstitutional. As currently structured, it violates the Fourth Amendment's requirement of "reasonableness." On the other hand, it should be possible for the government to correct the deficiencies in the program in a manner that both preserves its legitimate value and substantially mitigates the risks to privacy that it currently poses.
The Intelligence Community needs to win back the trust of the American people. It can do that, not by being defensive, but by acknowledging that periodic review, reexamination and recalibration are healthy and constructive in a self-governing society, and by bending over backwards to embrace reforms that will help restore the public's trust.