Saturday, June 08, 2013

On Safety and Liberty

I watched clips of Obama’s response to the revelations regarding the NSA surveillance issues yesterday, and to say that I heard echoes of George W. Bush would be an understatement. He spoke of “striking this balance between the need to keep the American people safe and our concerns about privacy, because, there are some trade-offs involved,” and assured us that the programs in question “help us prevent terrorist attacks.”

“But I think its important to recognize that you can't have 100% security and also then have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience. We're gonna have to make some choices as a society. And I can say in evaluating these programs, they make a difference in our ability to anticipate and prevent possible terrorist activity.”

The juxtaposition between his assertions of “100% security” and “possible terrorist activity” is rank Bushism, with the former being impossible and the latter blatant fear mongering.

He assured us that no one was listening to our phone calls which was distraction, since nobody ever claimed that any such thing was happening and that was not anyone’s concern regarding the illegal program. The fact is that obtaining a record of a person’s telephone activity requires a court order, and this program is making a database of everyone’s telephone activity which can be accessed at will. It is a massive violation of law, and Obama tries to palm it off as “keeping us safe” just as Bush did.

Obama goes on to say that whatever potential this program has for government abuse, such as repressing protest, that we should trust him not to engage in such abuse, and assures us that he will use to program only to “keep us safe from terrorists.” I don’t know if I trust him or not, I’m pretty sure I don’t. This is a man who says he finds it easy to give an order to assassinate an American citizen without due process of law, and I’m supposed to trust him?

Trusting him or not is not the point. Our constitution spells out a form of government which makes it unnecessary to trust any individual. Obama is violating that constitution, and then asking us to trust him not to abuse the product of that violation. That’s like a bank robber asking us to trust him to spend the stolen money wisely.

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