I’m exceptionally angry about the revelation today of the NSA program to buy 4.5 years of records from phone companies of every call — more than 200M American citizens. Just about as angry at our government as I’ve ever been. Over the past 5 or 6 years I’ve felt feelings that range the gamut from embarrassment to sadness to helplessness. Over the lies, dumb actions, venal activities, and just incredibly patronizing things that the executive branch (in particular, but not limited to) has done.
Now I’m just angry.
Today’s news means, to me, that personal privacy of American citizens and foreign residents has been systematically and cynically violated, even while the president says, with a straight face, that he protects our privacy rights. Such crap. Complete, obvious lying to the public in such a cynical way.
I read an awful lot of history, and I’m jaded enough to know that the behavior of the United States has never been perfect (and sometimes downright bad), but I’ve also read enough to know that this is a pretty special place, founded on a set of ideals that have been largely beneficial to the world. I believe in the Declaration, and the Constitution, and democracy, even at the large scale of representative democracy that we have here & now.
And so it’s made me sad & embarrassed to lose, as a nation, whatever stature we had in the world as a force for good.
I’ve been unhappy, but marginally willing to live with the restraints on personal freedoms given the world context today. While the Patriot Act is an abhorrent, knee-jerk reaction that mostly undermines the very liberties it’s trying to protect, it’s not so different in kind than Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus or Adams’ Alien and Sedition Acts. All regrettable, but fairly predictable reactions to threats (both perceived and real) to American security.
Today I feel like there’s a line that’s been crossed that puts us back into the days of J Edgar Hoover and Joseph McCarthy. Wiretaps, phone logs, surveillance on citizens and residents who’ve done nothing wrong, on the chance that maybe you could discover wrongdoing.
That’s not an idea that America was founded on, or one that has ever served us well. It puts Americans on the opposite side from the Government, and that can’t sustain. Not here.
Of the people, by the people, for the people.
I’m not sure you can get there from here.