As the crusader for liberty Edward Snowden chooses to flee to totalitarian Russia in anticipation of finding a final soft place to land in some  socialist dictatorship (probably Cuba or Venezuela), Senator Rand Paul continues to defend him as a “truthteller.” Obviously, Senator Paul is not indifferent to our national security and I’m sure he believes the United States must have national defense secrets and must gather intelligence about hostile foreign threats. That being the case, what is the point of praising Snowden as a truthteller when he is now a fugitive from justice whose attractiveness to regimes hostile to the United States is the truth he can tell them about our defense secrets?…

People are understandably upset over the NSA programs. The government has done a very poor job of explaining — if it can be explained — why it is necessary to warehouse the phone records of everyone in the country in order to surveil a few hundred terror suspects. It has done a very poor job of explaining the civil liberties safeguards that are in place so that data-collection does not become spying on Americans. The PATRIOT Act’s business records provision is due to sunset in two years; if it were two months, there’s a good chance Congress would let the statute lapse, and even if it survives in 2015 — assuming we do not suffer a major attack in the meantime — that could probably only happen with dramatic changes. I get all that. But if people no longer think national defense secrets are important, or that honoring oaths is less virtuous than indiscriminate “truthtelling,” it is going to be impossible to have security. Senator Paul makes “security” seem like a frivolous concern when he uses it in the context of Clapper’s false statement (and juxtaposed to Snowden’s devotion to “privacy”). But we can only afford to be cavalier about security because we have it.