Several people have inquired about the recent leaks of classified information and how I see the issues involved. Here is how I responded to one such person:

I think the conversations about privacy, information access, and terrorism over the next few years (and more) will have much to teach us. Right now, as often as not we are seeing unhelpful polemics. Big picture, this is how I see things: Terrorism is a predictable product of globalization bringing cultures at different stages into disorienting proximity. The result requires us to fundamentally rethink traditional ideas of war and peace in ways that are decidedly uncomfortable (and confusing) for both the Left and the Right. The Right has to get comfortable with the fact that terrorists and those we might associate with them are not simply evil. The Left has to get comfortable with the fact that needed safe-guards will require certain limited by necessary infringements on individual freedoms.

As far as privacy and information access questions, first we need to get past the self-serving polemics and realize that the task is simply (I don’t mean simple) to find the right  balance of safety and individual freedoms (knowing from the start that no one will be happy with the answer and that it is not at all obvious where that line should be). Then we need to take our best shot at determining where we want the line (knowing that the future will have endless new lessons to teach).

My guess is that, like with other new-safety/defense challenges, we will find areas were steps taken thus far were clearly overzealous and unacceptably intrusive. We will also find areas where we have been ignorant of significant vulnerabilities that desperately need attention. But to make such distinctions, we have to be sufficiently level headed that we can balance the risks and find creative solutions that we are inherently blind to when ideological polemics prevail.

Hope that at least starts to answer your question — cj


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