The hardest thing in an argument is to acknowledge competing truths. We know that our government will continue with large-scale surveillance programs to prevent future terrorist attacks. We also know that such programs have operated up to now with too little public scrutiny and insufficient concern over their long-term implications for our rights and our privacy.
The response to Edward Snowden’s leaks about what our government has been up to should thus be a quest for a new and more sustainable balance among security, privacy and liberty. And the fact that some people in each of our political parties have switched sides on these questions is actually an opportunity. We can have a debate on the merits, liberated from the worst aspects of partisanship.