June 13, 2013 12:33PM

Censorship in the National Security State

Today the Washington Post says the federal government “should allow” Google and other business firms “to say a little more about their relationship with the government.” It is a telling indication of our “relationship with the government” that we are now pleading for freedom of speech.

Quick story to illustrate this point. Nick Merill is a business person in the telecommunications and web services field and one day federal agents brought him a “national security letter.” Astonished by what the “letter” demanded of him, Merill sought legal advice even though the government threatened him with jail if he told anyone else about his “letter.” I invited Merill to a Cato event on Capitol Hill. Listen to his story and then forward it across the internet so others will have a better idea of what the government is doing.

It seems to me that Edward Snowden has put his liberty on the line to sound the alarm about the national security state. I agree with what security expert, Bruce Schneier, wrote the other day in the New York Times, “I believe that history will hail Snowden as a hero — his whistle‐​blowing exposed a surveillance state and a secrecy machine run amok. I’m less optimistic of how the present day will treat him, and hope that the debate right now is less about the man and more about the government he exposed.” 

More Cato work here, here, and here.