So, apparently the Snowden cache contains quite a large number of intercepted communications, not just technical documents, PowerPoint slides, and memos. This opens up a whole can of worms, and some new possibilities for the cache.

Worms first: several journalists have access to an incredibly sensitive cache of personal information. According to some NSA defenders: Snowden has committed a horrible privacy violation of thousands of innocent Americans. This is a big problem, but it requires some mental gymnastics not to recognize that if Snowden had violated the privacy of innocents by giving this information to journalists, so had the NSA by storing it in the first place.  Realistically, it's not one or the other, it's both. Now that we know what it contains, the long term storage of that portion cache by journalists becomes very problematic. On one hand: it's evidence, on the other, it's private information on many thousands of people.

While there are some problems, there are also new possibilities. First, it could be a boon for defendants, and those facing legal jeopardy, to confront the evidence against them, to receive a genuinely fair trial. This is doubly important for drug cases, particularly those with DEA involvement, because of the highly questionably practice of Parallel Reconstruction, wherein classified evidence is laundered, and is reconstructed using traditional methods. In effect: perjury. Second, it is prima facie evidence to use in lawsuits against the NSA, proof that a plaintiff had been spied on. Third, one of the wilder stories:  Snowden to Reveal the Secrets of Arab Dictators, really can happen now. The US government's dealings with brutal regimes are newsworthy, so are the dealings of those regimes against their own people.

One of the things that makes Cablegate so powerful, and simultaneously controversial, is the ability of ordinary citizens to query it, and learn what the government had kept hidden. In at least one case, it allowed a rendition victim to seek justice. I am not suggesting leaking it out in full, but ways of allowing ordinary citizens the ability to get their own communications, and broadening access, should be considered. Contrary to the opinions of those who described the Post's story as a dud, it's the first page of the next chapter of the Snowden Saga, with wide-reaching, and unpredictable consequences.

By Paul Dietrich, Jul 8, 2014