As I said before in another context, what’s wrong with what’s been going on at the National Security Agency (NSA) “is not the spying, it’s the lying.”
Spy agencies are supposed to spy, but within the rules laid out for them by the US Congress. They are not allowed to lie to Congress or to Congress’ mandated overseers like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Nor, it should be said, are the NSA, The White House or leaders of the Congress allowed to lie to the American people about what they’ve learned about law-breaking activities in the name of national security.
When lies like this become routine, the bond of trust between citizen and government breaks down and democracy dies with it.