I have decried in this space before the new disrespect for the citizenry displayed by the US government. The need to tap the phones of our own citizens in order to protect them, echoes the arguments of tyrants down the ages. The government knows better how to protect you. Trust the government. If you’re not doing anything wrong you have nothing to worry about. Would you rather be safe, or free? I find the casualness in which we ignore the law (a specific 1978 law that says even the president, wartime or not, needs to show that he’s not spying on innocent people, and that the subjects are in fact foreign agents) disheartening. This extends not just from the administration’s position but the corporations tat aided in the wiretappig as well.
However I was given new hope by our presidential candidates. Both John McCain and Barack Obama stood for liberty. Obama was the more vitriolic in his rhetoric, raging against the illegal wiretaps. McCain simply stated the reasonable fact that the President must obey the law. Now they both have changed their minds
Senator Obama has decided to vote for a Senate bill that expands the somewhat dictatorial power of the monarch we still call President. He explained that it is a compromise. That before this bill the President had no oversight and at least this bill delivers some. However, the President was not following the law before, why should we expect future presidents to follow the law either? We have effectively said the President can do as he sees fit, and we’ll patch up the law afterwards to fit the actions.
Senator McCain has also expressed support for the bill. His campaign has feverishly explained that while McCain said the President must always follow the law, that was not meant to imply the current President had broken it. While not as big of an about-face as Obama this still comes off as back-sliding.
Whether Obama or McCain takes office in January either will be able to spy on any foreign transmission he wants for whatever reason he wants with only a yearly bulk judicial review for oversight. Any spurious wiretapping can be easily hidden int hat kind of system. If the President wants to tap the NRAs or the ACLUs calls overseas, he’ll be able to and nobody can stop him.
I would plead with our Congress to change their minds, and I do. But I feel its useless. The same bull-mindedness that led us into Iraq is now leading us into the foothills of tyranny. So instead I beg the citizens to speak out. If you value your liberty, speak out. If you prefer the safety of a dictator to protect you from your enemies, stay quiet. This is a ral choice that is actually happening right now.