The government has invented a bold set of universal talking points, which can be used to justify any invasive surveillance program. The NSA review group has provided a secret interim report to the White House with recommendations for dealing with NSA surveillance excesses; the public release is expected in about a month. What can we expect from the report? Rumor has it that it will conclude there is no "workable" way to scale back invasive surveillance programs.
The administration has already started its justifications, making public statements focused solely on effectiveness, without acknowledging that other critical values are in danger—most importantly, our Constitutional and human rights.
When effectiveness is the only value at play, even the most invasive warrantless programs can be justified. Cameras in the bedroom? House-to-house searches? Cavity searches by the TSA? In each case, the government could argue that it would get less information and be less effective without them.
We even wrote a script to showcase how easy it is to write such a statement for an arbitrary invasive program.
The script below will generate statements by senior government officials, based on actual quotes and statements used to justify the NSA spying programs, with the name of the program changed. If a statement can be used to justify anything, it really justifies nothing.