At a time when the NSA is under attack for spying on every day Americans, the appointment of Cass Sunstein is puzzling development, considering his 2008 paper in which he suggested that government agents infiltrate Internet chat groups. His appointment to the NSA Oversight Panel, considering his favoring of unfettered spying, sends a message that the White House would like the committee to become a straw dog.
Cass Sunstein is married to no show UN Ambassador, Samantha Power. Sunstein's 2008 paper, which was done at Harvard, deals with conspiracy theorists, whom Sunstein said were dangerous and prone to violence.
“Those who subscribe to conspiracy theories may create serious risks, including risks of violence, and the existence of such theories raises significant challenges for policy and law.”
“The first challenge is to understand the mechanisms by which conspiracy theories prosper; the second challenge is to understand how such theories might be undermined.” It continues, “Because those who hold conspiracy theories typically suffer from a crippled epistemology, in accordance with which it is rational to hold such theories, the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups. Various policy dilemmas, such as the question whether it is better for government to rebut conspiracy theories or to ignore them, are explored in this light.”
This is not the first time Sunstein has written such a contraversial paper. While at the University of Chicago, Sunstein wrote that a higher value should be placed on the life of a young person than that of older people. This was in regard to healthcare spending. This was brought up at the time of his testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in June 2011. He quickly backed off his previous statements.
“I’m a lot older now than the author with my name was, and I’m not sure what I think about what that young man wrote. Things written as an academic are not a legitimate part of what we do as a government official. So I am not focusing on sentences that a young Cass Sunstein wrote years ago. So the answer is no.”
That answer was to a question concerning the IPAB panel, better known as the Death panel, who stands accused of being a rationing board who gives preference to younger patients.
Sunstein is also the author of a paper from 2008, that said everyone should be presumed to be an organ donor. If someone were to die and they did not agree to donate their organs, Sunstein said they should be presumed to be so and their organs could be harvested without their written consent.
Many are questioning placing a person who favors increased spying onto a board charged with making sure that spying does not step over the line.