Transparency? For National Security?
– by David Matthews 2
So President Barack Obama now feels that we need to look at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and the National Security Agency’s spying efforts and revising parts of the ill-named freedom-hating PATRIOT Act. He decided that now is the time we needed to bring in a “special advocate” to supposedly make things “more transparent”.
Well isn’t that nice of the president to decide that “now” is the time to do these things… when the news comes out as to how these things are being actively abused.
Isn’t it nice to know that “now” is the supposed “right time” to do these things… after we learn that the NSA was actually listening to our phone calls despite a decade of denials. Something that was only made public thanks to Edward Snowden, whom the President refused to consider as being either a “whistleblower” or a “patriot”, even though he was the one that brought this gross abuse of power to light.
Isn’t it nice to know that “now” is the supposed “right time” to do something about these abuses… after we discover that other agencies are also using the very information that the NSA wasn’t supposed to have in the first place. Oh they claim that they “really aren’t” doing that, but that is about as credible as the NSA’s continual claim that they haven’t been listening to our phone calls. They are all as credible now as Bill Clinton was when he claimed that he “never inhaled” and that he did not have sexual relations with “that woman, Miss Lewinsky”.
It should be noted as well that this comes at a time when Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is making a hasty beeline exit from Washington, leaving the various agencies to flounder in her wake. But it would not be fair to put this debacle squarely on her shoulders, because this kind of complacency in peering into our lives and the willingness to share such information with other agencies doesn’t happen overnight. This kind of comfort and complacency is something that is built up over several years; maybe even from the ten-plus years that this whole Orwellian Wet Dream has been in our homes and in our lives.
When I hear talk about a “special advocate”, I think back to the movie “Boiler Room” with the scene of the guy sitting all by himself in a closed room, who does nothing but read the newspaper, and we find out that he’s supposed to be the regulatory supervisor that would make sure nothing “illegal” goes on. I remember the fall of Enron and how a supposedly “trustworthy” firm like Arthur Anderson was supposed to make sure nothing “improper” or “illegal” went on. I remember Lincoln Savings and Loan and how the U.S. Senators known as the “Keating Five” were “shocked” to see it fall under their supposed oversight.
Keep in mind that we have an Attorney General that is petrified of bringing even one criminal charge against the career criminals in the banking industry for fear that even one little charge could crash the whole economy, even though his department’s own policy calls for doing just that. We have millions of Americans that have been literally forsaken by Obama and his Fail machine under claims of the economy “improving”. And yet now we’re supposed to “trust” the Obama Fail to look out for civil liberties when it comes to doing something that they weren’t supposed to be doing in the first place?
Let’s get brutally honest here… the only thing that I can ever have trust in regarding President Obama and his perpetual fail is that he will continue to fail the American people, especially when it comes to looking out for our civil liberties.
The GOP will no doubt deny this publicly, but if there is one thing that they share with Obama it is their addiction to keeping whatever abusive power they can get and to keep the public petrified in order to retain it. Just look at the recent “chatter” scare tactic regarding our embassies, ripped right out of the same “Nexus of Politics and Terror” playbook from the Bush Imperium. Isn’t it funny how there seems to be “chatter” after the government gets caught doing something stupid or wrong?
Speaking of the party of chickenhawk fascism and fear-mongering, you can guarantee that the GOP will fight tooth-and-nail any attempt to “reform” the NSA, Homeland Security, the FISA Courts and the ill-named freedom-hating PATRIOT Act. These groups are all very much the GOP’s legislative babies and the GOP will protect them as vigorously as they would protect their own pork programs and tax breaks for the 1% crowd. Why give up power that they themselves will want to use at some point after Obama leaves?
And then there is the punchline… if there is one word that could ever be considered out-of-place when it comes to security, it is the word “transparency”.
Expecting a fear-mongering government that has no qualms using past trauma to keep the masses complacent to suddenly be “transparent” when it comes to collecting information is not only unrealistic; it is dangerously delusional. And I mean “delusional” on the caliber of being kept medicated and in a padded room.
Let’s start with a few truths. The first truth is that the government will never willingly admit to doing anything illegal or improper unless they are forced to do so, and even then they will refuse to admit to being wrong. The government operates on the presumption of being always right, even and especially when they are wrong.
The second truth is that government does not give a rat’s ass about civil liberties. If it means throwing almost every citizen into prison to keep them “safe”, they’ll do it without a second thought. If you have any question about that then consider that after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, our government rounded up all Japanese, Italian, and German immigrants and threw them into internment camps until the end of World War II.
The third truth is that no leader, including the President of the United States, will ever admit that they knew about the government abusing those civil liberties before it is made public. It’s called “plausible deniability”. It’s not only a matter of accountability but also a matter of image. You can have all of the FoxNews witch-hunts, you can summon all the Congressional hearings and appoint every Special Prosecutor in the world and you won’t find a chief executive of a supposedly “free nation” that will admit knowing about the government abusing the civil rights of even one individual before that news is made public, even if they were the one holding the water-boarding bucket. So all of this stuff about President Obama “reading reports” and not knowing about any abuses is about as much “truth” as you will ever get from him on this.
The fourth truth is that there will never be a “right time” to have a “dialogue” on this. Never. The assumption made by Obama about us having an “orderly and lawful process to debate these issues” ended on October 26, 2001, when the PATRIOT Act was shoved down our gullets – sight unseen – and gave our government cart blanche do to what it wants.
And the fifth truth is that not only is knowledge power, so is information, and once the Orwellian genie is out, it’s impossible to put it back in. We know that the NSA is keeping track of our phone calls. We now know that other agencies are getting access to this information. We know that the Department of Justice pompously assumes that it has uncontestable warrant-less access to everything out on a “cloud” server, including your emails and your computer backups. Do you honestly think that any of these groups would be willing to give up that power without a fight?
Keep in mind that you’re fighting more than just these agencies and departments on this. You’re going up against the chickenhawk fascists in the GOP. You’re going up against the chickenhawk “blue dog” Democrats (if there are any still living). You’re going up against the god-dammed Fox News Script and their legions of corporate-owned “national security consultants”. You’re going up against whole groups of K-Street lobbyists that make their money off collecting that kind of information and using it for their own purposes and profits. You’re going up against “Really Too Big To Fail” corporations that make money off misery and instability around the world. And you’re going up against the segment of the population that has already eagerly sold their souls and all of ours to the Orwellian Wet Dream as simply being “part of the new reality”.
This is their NRA “from my cold dead hands” line. This is their “coat hangers” issue. This is the thing that all of these groups will fight and kill you for; their presumed entitlement to look into your personal property and your personal lives in the name of “national security”.
As much as the libertarian in me sees the news from Obama for reforms as being “about time”, the practical and politically cynical part of me knows that all of these talks are nothing more than just lies and spin. Obama has no interest in taking away any kind of power that either he or his eventual successor would enjoy and utilize, no matter how “embarrassing” the revelation of that power may be. And even if he is sincere about it, he’d then have to fight the whole of K-Street, C-Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, and Fox News and their Orwellian scripts to do it. Compare to all of that, al Qaeda is a pantywaist pushover.