Edward Snowden released new information regarding the targets of NSA surveillance. One of the targets was Germany's Chancellor Angela Markel. It is apparent that many of our allies have been the targets of NSA snooping. Ostensibly, the US targets terrorists who might harm us. It appears, however, that NSA spies on our friends as well. We are in a situation is which we have the technology to spy on our friends, and our officials place no limits on the use of the technology. President Obama phoned Chancellor Markel and told her that she is not a target of our surveillance. He was forced to convey the same message to French leaders. He did not claim that they were not targets in the past.
We tell parents that that they should not let their children play with matches. The reasoning is obvious. Apparently, it is not obvious to our public officials that we should not use the spying technology that is available to them for any purpose that we choose. The danger is not obvious to them. Its not even clear to me that our politicians are fully aware of what is done by our spies. They have their own purposes which may or may not coincide with those of our elected officials. The spy agencies are manned by long term employees who are loyal to their organizations. Our politicians are temporary employees who come and go with the election cycles.
Most American's believe that Edward Snowden has been harmful to our national interest. That is true as long as we believe that should let our spy agencies play with matches. Some might argue that it is in our national interest to be more aware of the capabilities and dangers that might be harmful to our national interest when they are misused.