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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

surveillance in the USA « Previous | |Next »
December 19, 2005

This article in the Washington Post gives an insight to the functioning of the national security state: domestic eavesdropping on American citizens.

Listening to U.S. citizens' communications within the US---even though they are not alleged to be terrorists or spies--- is justified in terms of a defense of American freedom by the Bush administration. The President has the authority to do this because the US is at war.

What this example shows is the way the national security state accumulates powers that the checks and balance of the separation of powers (executive, legislature and judiciary) was designed to prevent. As Hilzoy over at Political Animal says Bush:

"... has decided to circumvent the courts' power to decide whether the government has enough evidence to place someone under surveillance, thereby removing a crucial check on executive power, and arrogating one of the powers of the judiciary to himself. "

President Bush has also arrogated the power of the legislature:
The Legislature has the power to make laws; the Executive carries out the laws the Legislature has written. Had George W. Bush wanted to, he could have gone to Congress and asked it to change the laws. Instead, he decided to simply ignore them: to act as though he had the powers that the Constitution reserves to the legislative branch.

The judgement? Bush:
", essentially, claiming that he has the right not just to execute the laws, but to write them himself, and then to judge their application. Moreover, he claims the right to do this in secret. Were he to announce openly that he had decided to concentrate all the powers of government in his own hands, we could at least argue about whether or not we thought that was a good idea. But by acting in secret, he is, essentially, asserting the right to amend the Constitution unilaterally and without having the decency to let us know."

There we have the national security state in operation.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:36 PM | | Comments (0)