His tone on Friday was inappropriately dismissive, while the substance was misleading at best and mendacious at worst.
By observing Obama’s condescension, I don’t mean to suggest tone was the most objectionable part of the speech. The disinformation should bother the American people most. The weasel words. The impossible-to-believe protestations. The factually inaccurate assertions.
Obama has always had it within his power to initiate a fully informed debate. The state secrets that he guards, rightly or wrongly, are the biggest obstacle to a fully informed debate. Love the leaks or hate them, they’ve indisputably made Americans, including some members of Congress, much better informed than they were before about NSA surveillance, not less informed. And as any student of the civil-rights era ought to know, debate need not be “orderly” to be salutary.
The official secrecy surrounding the NSA has already corroded U.S. democracy in real ways.