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The fate of Edward Snowden is again the Big Story.  I don’t know whether that is Snowden’s fault, or the media’s fault, or Wikileaks’ fault.  Or whether It may even reflect a deliberate campaign to distract us from what we should be talking about instead of debating whether the former NSA contractor goes to prison for breaking the law, or what government somewhere might grant him asylum. We should be talking about and debating the facts that Snowden revealed, not whether he is a whistle-blower or a traitor for revealing them.

Is it legal and proper for the NSA to maintain a huge database containing the telephone and internet records of everyone? Has that massive invasion of our privacy actually prevented any terrorist attacks?  If it has, is that a trade-off that we as a nation can afford? Are there adequate safeguards that prevent serious abuse of that information?  And should the American people and their representatives be kept in the dark about these matters?

Questions like those should be in the forefront of our discourse. The answers to them are much more important–to the future of the U.S.–than whether Snowden will spend the rest of his life in the transit lounge of a Moscow airport.

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