A University of Nebraska-Lincoln Law professor says the Obama Administration is greatly concerned about the exposure of the government’s electronic surveillance program.
The National Security Agency has been collecting data on cell phone calls, emails and web surfing in its program to detect potential terrorist threats.
Professor Richard Moberly says that while President Obama has expressed support for whistleblowers in the past, that doesn’t extend to the revelations by a NSA contractor about the program.
29-year-old NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked information about the program. Moberly says Snowden could well be prosecuted under the Espionage Act of 1917.
Moberly says the whistleblower plays a vital role.
“We want to encourage whistleblowers. They allow for accountability. They allow for transparency in government and in almost every other area we want them to come forward, because there is no countervailing value of secrecy. If something wrong is going on in the Treasury Department, there’s no reason to keep it secret,” Snowden tells the Jack and Dave in the Morning Show on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
Moberly notes, though, that Snowden exposed a program used to prevent terrorist attacks.
“There is the countervailing norm for these programs to be effective, they have to have secrecy,” Moberly explains.
Moberly says this is a difficult case.
“The damage to the national security seems pretty apparent on its face,” Moberly says. “Now, we always have to be a little careful when the government comes out and pounds the fist and says now this is going to hurt national security, because they say that a lot and it often doesn’t turn out to be true, but this about our ability to intercept communications that seems pretty damaging.”
NSA officials claim the program has prevent dozens of potential terrorist attacks. They say the disclosure by Snowden has already had an adverse effect, compromising national security.
AUDIO: UNL Law professor Richard Moberly discusses NSA program on KLIN’s Jack and Dave in the Morning show. [19 min.]