My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
In Snowden’s view, the traditional forms of oversight—secret one-sided courts and closed congressional or parliamentary committees—are inadequate, not least because they have only partial information and poor technical understanding and are frequently misled. He may have had in mind such moments as when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress in March that the NSA did not intentionally collect “any type of data at all” on millions of Americans. That turned out not to be true. Clapper later justified his response as the “least untruthful answer” he could give. Which Orwell would surely have regarded as a doubleplusgood answer. – Alan Rushbridger in the New York Review of BooksBACK TO TOP