Krugman: ‘We Are Kind of’ an ‘Authoritarian Surveillance State’

Since last week’s revelations concerning the National Security Agency looking at American phone records, it’s been fascinating to watch Obama-loving media members take issue with what the White House is doing.

Include New York Times columnist Paul Krugman who on ABC’s This Week Sunday said that America is now “kind of” an “authoritarian surveillance state” (video follows with transcript and commentary):

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: So George, we got both sides of the debate pretty well in that first half hour. Where do you come down on this?

GEORGE WILL: We are threatened by needles in a haystack - very few needles and a very large haystack. Really a seven billion world population. We're threatened not by a nation but by a network. It is the nature of a terrorist network to be invisible until made visible. Hence when there's an attack we talk about who didn't connect the dots. In the data that they are gathering, the dots are. With sophisticated algorithms they try to reveal the dots and reveal the network.

Before they can act on this there are two levels of judicial supervision. They need the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court to authorize looking at the pattern of usage of phones and internet. And then another judicial review to look at messages, the content of what they're doing. Now, this is the case for. The problem is we're using technologies of information gathering that didn't exist 20 years ago, that are terribly important but terribly invasive, and they require reposing extraordinary trust in the executive branch of government which some of us think it has recently forfeited.

PAUL KRUGMAN, NEW YORK TIMES: There was a really good article written five years ago by Jack Balkin at the Yale law school. He said that technology means that we're going to be living in a surveillance state. That’s just going to happen. But there are different kinds of surveillance states. You can have a democratic surveillance state which collects as little data as possible and tells you as much as possible about what it’s doing. Or you could have an authoritarian surveillance state which collects as much as possible and tells the public as little as possible. And we are kind of on the authoritarian side.

This follows Friday’s editorial wherein the Times said Obama had “lost all credibility” concerning the national security issue.

It sure does look like it’s going to be a very hot, sticky summer for the White House, doesn’t it?

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.