The first part of FRONTLINE's two-hour documentary examining how the U.S. government came to spy on millions of Americans premieres tonight on PBS at 10 PM EDT. The second part will air on May 20. Here is a link to a video trailer of the film, and one on the background on the film, both from the PBS website. Earlier this evening, on the PBS NewsHour, Judy Woodruff interviewed former NSA Chief General Keith Alexander, which allowed him to present the NSA side of the story. You can watch the interview at the NewsHour website.
The premiere of "United States of Secrets" might not have been coincidental to the release today of Glenn Greenwald's book, "No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State," but then again there have been so many unplanned convergences of events associated with the NSA leaks that it's possible the air date for the FRONTLINE offering was indeed coincidental.
Either way, the two events coming the day after the reopening of the Washington National Monument are an auspicious sign. Edward Snowden and the Fellowship of the Light, as I term the people who helped him reveal the NSA's overweening surveillance programs, have given the American people a fighting chance to save our republic.
That it can be saved -- I think the restoration of the Monument, which had suffered extensive damage in an earthquake in 2011, suggests that it can, for those of us who put stock in Signs and Portents. The Monument is the iconic symbol of American democracy. Despite the bad shaking it got from the earthquake, which put more than 150 cracks in the structure, it withstood the shock and is now made whole again.
Also, the fact that a private citizen, David Rubenstein, made the restoration possible by contributing half the $15 billion needed to repair the earthquake damage, is itself an auspicious sign in that underscores the importance of individual effort in saving our republic.
The metaphorical cracks in the American democracy took many years to manifest; repairing them will take longer than restoring a monument to democracy, but in three events this week I find hope the repairs can be made.
For those of us who believe in Signs and Portents, the damage done to the Washington National Monument was a bad omen for American freedom. With God on our side, and with the Fellowship to light our path, we who love freedom move forward now into an uncertain future. Yet that the Fellowship has grown in the space of less than a year from a small band of newspaper owners, editorial boards and journalists to include many thousands of Americans from all walks of life is an auspicious sign.