Human Rights

Howard Dean Is Cool with the Government Spying on Us, Just as Long as It's Not a Secret

The one-time presidential candidate: "I think the American people are willing to give up some privacy in exchange for safety."

Photo Credit: Matt Wright

Former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean knocked the Obama administration for not being upfront about intrusive NSA surveillance programs revealed in leaks this month — but ultimately threw his support behind them, The Huffington Post reports.

“I think the American people are willing to give up some privacy in exchange for safety, but I think the president has to essentially ask our permission,” Dean said Wednesday during an interview at the progressive tech conference Netroots Nation in San Jose, California.

“The reason this country works is because we are governed with the consent of the governed,” he added. “I think the American people support the president, but he’s got to go on television and explain what this program is, why he thinks we need it, and what it's accomplished.”

The former Vermont governor’s stance on surveillance echoes that of New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who oversaw a massive surveillance operation targeting Muslim communities. Kelly chided the president for not being more forthcoming about the extent of NSA spying, but agreed that widespread metadata collection is in the public’s interest. “I think the American public can accept the fact if you tell them that every time you pick up the phone it's going to be recorded and goes to the government,” Kelly said on Monday. "I think the public can understand that."


Steven Hsieh is an editorial assistant at AlterNet and writer based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @stevenjhsieh.

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