Photo credit: Reuters

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Subverting Democracy

Dear Mr. President,
So your handpicked intelligence-community-insider panel reviewing the NSA is recommending you rein ‘em in. They don’t go near far enough—don’t just rein ‘em in, shut ‘em down—but even these guys report that the bulk collection of phone data has “not been necessary in stopping terrorist attacks” and that it “was not essential to preventing attacks.” (today’s NYT, “Obama Is Urged To Sharply Curb N.S.A. Data Mining” p. A1) Tuesday, Judge Leon called it “Orwellian” and said it “almost certainly violates the Fourth Amendment.” Then Wednesday, the rich tech execs who donate millions to Democrats complained in their meeting with you that it’s hurting business, and today your own panel recommends 46  major changes. The December 16 New Yorker article, “State of Deception,” by Ryan Lizza, reveals just how out of control the NSA is. It has consistently misled and lied to Congress, the FISA Court and the public and systematically ignored its own rules and the law so often that even the rubber-stamp FISA Court threatened to shut them down on several occasions. The article also chronicles how you’ve embraced and institutionalized all the Bush surveillance policies even though as a Senator and candidate for President you railed against them and tried to change them. More proof that you are a Machiavellian technocrat who will do anything to gain and maintain power. The article shows how you’ve kept the programs so secret that not even Congress, let alone We the People, know what’s going on. Even the NSA budget is classified so we don’t really know just how much they spend each year to spy on us, programs that provide no value. That’s NO VALUE, Mr. President. They’ve uncovered no plots and averted no attacks while burning through tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars doing it. Waste, fraud, and abuse! Even the current director of the National Counterterrorism Center admits they don’t really need to collect every phone call made by every American and most foreigners around the world, but that doesn’t stop Clapper and Alexander. Get it All! is their motto. According to the article, you had two clear opportunities to rein in the NSA in your first year as president but instead betrayed your stated principles and sided with the NSA, secrecy and illegal spying. Not good for democracy. As Edward Snowden said last July, “Seeing someone in the position of James Clapper baldly lying to the public without repercussion is the evidence of a subverted democracy.”

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