Exposing Secret Programs

EXPOSING SECRET PROGRAMS….As long as I’m asking dumb questions, here’s another one. No one is going to believe me when I say that I’m not trying to grind any particular axe here, but….I’m not trying to grind any particular axe here. I’m just curious.

OK. So the New York Times has now exposed two anti-terrorist initiatives: the NSA’s domestic spying program and the Treasury Department’s financial tracking program. The administration says that exposing these programs is bad because terrorists will stop using telephones and international credit transfers now that they know the U.S. government can monitor these activities. Thus, we have fewer ways of catching bad guys.

Fine. That’s true. And yet, isn’t there an upside too? If the bad guys stop using telephones and bank transfers, doesn’t that reduce their effectiveness considerably? No phone calls, no wire transfers, satellites watching you, drones attacking out of nowhere, websites hacked, no one who can be trusted ? at some point their whole operation grinds to a halt out of sheer paranoia.

Now, I assume that the people running these programs aren’t idiots. If they think that keeping them secret is a net positive, they’re probably right. But nobody even mentions the upside of exposing them. Surely there is one, isn’t there?