George Packer makes a related point in Prospect: "A friend from Iran who was jailed and tortured for having the wrong political beliefs, and who is now an American citizen, observed drily, 'I prefer to be spied on by NSA.'"
So which of the two million-odd documents Edward Snowden swiped from the National Security Agency should end up in the newspaper, and who gets to decide? On that score, Kinsley's otherwise crystal-clear argument gets foggy. His point is that in a fallen world, the government has legitimate secrets to protect: classic example, the date and location of the D-Day landings.
"In a democracy (which, pace Greenwald, we still are), that decision must ultimately be made by the government," he writes.
Hence misunderstanding. Had he simply specified "congress and the courts," there would have been a lot less hyperventilating.
Where's an editor when you need one?
(Arkansas Times columnist Gene Lyons is a National Magazine Award winner and co-author of "The Hunting of the President" (St. Martin's Press, 2000). You can email Lyons at firstname.lastname@example.org.)