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

NSA: the authoritarian strain in US political life « Previous | |Next »
July 5, 2013

Glenn Greenward highlights the political significance of the NSA revelations in the US emerging from the leaks by Edward Snowden.

First, national security agencies in intentionally deceiving Congress destroy the pretense of oversight. Members of Congress cannot exercise any actual oversight over programs which are being concealed by deceitful national security officials. That means the system of checks and balances is in the US is broken.

BellSNSA.jpg Steve Bell

Secondly, what is what's truly objectionable to many media and political elites is is when powerless individuals such as Edward Snowden blow the whistle on deceitful national security state officials on the fact that top US officials have been deceitfully concealing a massive, worldwide spying apparatus being constructed with virtually no accountability or oversight. The only political crimes come from exposing and aggressively challenging the most powerful political officials in the US.

So much for the rule of law and the right to individual freedom in the US. As Danial Ellsberg points out the bill of rights has been effectively revoked. The fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:39 PM | | Comments (7)


Well thank goodness for the Second Amendment. Maybe those meat-eating, tinfoil-beanie wearing, survivalist types are onto something.

I'm not sure why, but many Americans seem to me to live in a state of perpetual fear that 'the other' is out to get them. You can see it in the innumerable responses to any suggestion they might have to give up their beloved guns. I don't believe there is some leftist/Islamist/insert conspiracy group of your choice plot to deprive Americans of their liberty, but apparently a lot of yanks do. Enough to make governments terrified of being blamed for successful attacks on 'the homeland' by non-Americans - thus they will go to almost any lengths to try to prevent one.

Moreover this is the great American way of doing things: throw vast amounts of money at hugely expensive and complicated technological solutions to problems. They learned to do it in World War 2 and they've been doing it ever since. The fact that the solutions then become incapable of effective oversight by the normal democratic institutions either doesn't occur to them or they shrug it off as something they'll worry about later.

The ironic thing of course is that nobody seems terribly fussed about deaths and injuries incurred in American-on-American violence of various kinds, or even about the steady flow of US casualties in their various military adventures around the globe. It really is an odd set of concerns and priorities.

After 9/11 the Americans reckoned that in order to fight a new enemy, the United States must be equipped with a secret police as inquisitive and capable as the police of a totalitarian state

In the US “metadata”—including the phone numbers and email addresses with which we communicate, the timing, frequency, and pattern of those communications, and the electronic signals about our locations emitted by our smart phones—are given little protection.

The US government can access this information with a simple declaration to a judge that it is relevant to a criminal investigation.

President Obama has argued that we cannot have absolute protection against terrorism or absolute protection for privacy, and that some trade-off is necessary.

That sounds reasonable.

The difficulty with the president’s formulation, however, is that we cannot know what trade-off is acceptable if the programs that invade our privacy are kept secret.

Tis from the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That, to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..."

Maybe I'm just frightfully naive... but I always assumed that INFORMED consent (based on ALL the facts) was a basis for true democracy.

That said... "the pursuit of Happiness" probably gives Americans the right to live in stubborn, blissful ignorance.

There's a group of journalistsin the US who are outraged that whistle-blowers and news organizations are colluding to expose illegal government surveillance.