Dear Mr. President,
An article in today’s NYT (“Court Grants Secrecy for Memo on Phone Data” p. A10) set me to thinking that there’s two kinds of laws and two kinds of government: the laws we think we have and the laws we really have; and the government we think we have and government we really have. Yesterday a federal appeals court ruled that the Justice Department can withhold the secret memo that allows the government to collect, without a warrant or court order, the metadata of every phone call made in the U.S. That means it’s not We the People who have a right to privacy but the government. A lawyer for the organization which filed for access to the memo describes the secret memos from the Office of Legal Counsel—the same folks who justified torture and warrantless wiretapping for Bush—as a body of ‘secret law’…” The court rejected their argument that the secret memos amount to “the government’s official ‘working law’ and should not fall into the category of deliberative materials that are exempt from disclosure.” So now in addition to the government’s right to privacy and no right of privacy for the public, there’s a body of laws we think we’re being governed by and another body of laws that allow you and the NSA, the CIA, the FBI and all the other intelligence agencies to do whatever they damn well please and we have no right to see the laws because of legal mumbo-jumbo and national security. Well, I say fuck that! I want my democracy back, I want justice back and I want to know the laws and justifications under which my government operates. I want to know what law gives you the right to assassinate anyone anywhere, why we’re droning wedding parties in Yemen and funerals in Afghanistan and grandmothers and children in the mountains of Waziristan. What secret law justifies spending tens of billions to collect phone call information that has not detected or averted a single plot or attack? And what secret law justifies cutting child health care, food stamps and unemployment benefits while giving billions to totalitarian dictatorships? I want to see the justification for inequality and maldistribution of wealth and the one that justifies letting Detroit and Stockton and Harrison County go bankrupt and cutting pensions to pay off the Wall Street banksters. This is not the America I grew up in. This is what I was taught was totalitarianism where individuals have no rights and the government operates in secrecy with arbitrary laws. I want my America back!