By Al Franken, Special to CNN
Last month, when Edward Snowden began leaking highly classified documents to the press, many Americans were shocked by what they read.
I don't blame them. For years, the architecture of the programs designed to keep us safe have been a secret to all but a few members of the intelligence community and select legislators. The companies that were involved in these programs were under strict gag orders. And while members of Congress had the opportunity to be briefed on these programs, it would have been a crime, literally, for us to have talked about them publicly.
As a result, when Snowden's leaks became public, Americans had no way of knowing the scope of these programs, their privacy protections and the legal authorities they were operating under. It was just Snowden and his documents on the one side and the government on the other, saying "trust us."
Editor's note: Al Franken represents Minnesota in the U.S. Senate and is a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party.FULL STORY