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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"Be Paranoid"

Matt Welch writes at Reason Magazine about the surveillance state in which we live:

“There is no spying on Americans,” President Barack Obama lied to Jay Leno in August. “We don’t have a domestic spying program.” ... In March, when asked by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) whether the NSA collects “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper also lied: “No, sir.” 
These bald-faced deceptions suggest a national security culture accustomed to doing and saying anything without fear of adverse consequences. ... 
The secrecy has gotten so out of control that the very legal reasoning the government relies on in its snooping has been persistently and successfully shielded from public view, despite the best efforts of civil libertarians such as Sen. Wyden and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.). To sum up: The executive branch is furiously trying to prevent citizens from knowing that they can be spied on, from knowing whether they are being spied on, and from knowing what legal theory the feds are using in the conduct of their spying. There can be no co-equal branches of government in this scenario. The legislature cannot be responsive to informed public opinion when the public is prevented from having one. 
When the constitutional balance goes so far out of whack, democratic legitimacy is not far behind. As the press critic Jay Rosen put it in August, “Can there even be an informed public and consent-of-the-governed for decisions about electronic surveillance, or have we put those principles aside so that the state can have its freedom to maneuver?” ....


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