It's a telling coincidence: The same week that former President Jimmy Carter described the fugitive Edward Snowden's intelligence leaks as “probably constructive in the long run,” the Obama administration confirmed that it will propose major restrictions on the government's freedom to collect bulk phone records.
Carter's comments didn't prod the administration into action, of course. But his attitude toward the leaks — namely, that they confirm that “since 9/11, we've gone too far in intrusion on the privacy that Americans ought to enjoy as a right of citizenship” — has grown to be widely shared.
If the administration's legislative proposal is adopted, those breaches of privacy apparently won't be quite so flagrant — although bulk collection of phone records is hardly the only constitutionally questionable surveillance activity of the government.
“As we've argued since the program was disclosed, the government can track suspected terrorists without placing millions of people under permanent surveillance,” said Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Let's just hope a majority in Congress agrees.