Readers React: Senators should take Snowden’s lead, shine light on NSA

Former federal government contract worker Edward Snowden’s disclosures of virtually limitless surveillance of American citizens by the National Security Agency corroborated the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ wisdom that sunshine is said to be the best of disinfectants. (“Ron Wyden, Mark Udall and Rand Paul: How to end the NSA dragnet,” Op-Ed, June 16)

Snowden’s revelations generated public outrage among a commanding majority of voters, which forced President Obama to curtail the NSA’s surveillance and provoked remedial legislation in Congress championed by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence should be aggressive in publicly disclosing classified information in the public interest, as authorized by its own rules and the Constitution’s speech or debate clause, to deter or correct NSA surveillance abuses.

The Supreme Court decision in Gravel vs. United States (1972) provides senators with an absolute constitutional shield from executive retaliation for disclosures made in the course of their legislative duties.

Bruce Fein, Washington


The writer, an associate deputy attorney general under President Reagan, was counsel to Edward Snowden’s father.

It is encouraging to read of the NSA reforms put forth by three prominent senators. However, the fundamental issue is the ability of successive administrations to choose what they want hidden from view.

I propose making secrecy public, its parameters posted for all to see.

Some matters and functions of our government should, of course, remain secret; for example, the negotiating positions of those interacting with their foreign counterparts, and the workings of the CIA.


But we need to move toward a public standard for secrecy; in an open society, what is kept secret must be agreed on, not imposed.

Denton Porter, Long Beach

Get our weekly Opinion newsletter