Monthly Archives: June 2013

Brooks on the Snowden leak; aka, What a twit


The banality of evil, indeed

What an infinite boob is David Brooks. His argument against Snowden is that the NSA leak (a) betrayed the trust of those who were party to the secret, and (b) invites the state to crack down on security further.

Note, the logic here rules out not just Snowden’s leak but the entire business of leaking categorically. It would equally rule out someone in Hitler’s inner circle’s leaking plans of the gas chambers (a ridiculous example, yes, but fitting for a ridiculous argument).

Granted, Brooks admits the possibility (and how could he not?) that a leaker could possess information so momentous it morally overrides these concerns. But he just rumps this onto the original argument, never integrating it into the line of thought. This is just cheating: You can’t make an argument with absurd implications (e.g., “nobody should leak anything, ever”) and save it with, “but of course this implication is so absurd it can’t always hold.” (No, Brooks, that’s what I’m saying.)

Rather, you have to specify the conditions under which the exception holds or doesn’t hold. Brooks only hints at a line without actually drawing it; but then, he can’t be sure Snowden falls afoul of it. He is like a meteorologist getting on TV, day after day, and telling us what causes rain, but never getting around to whether or not it is actually going to rain today.

So yeah, leaking state secrets risks serious repercussions. We knew that. The question is, just how does NSA fail to justify the risk? What exactly would need to be added to it to qualify as leak-worthy? In other words, just why was Snowden wrong and under what conditions would he have been right? Isn’t that the whole fucking issue?

Do the work, man. Make the case. Or go the fuck home.