I have been told that it can be a dangerous thing to write a blog under the influence of Percocet. However, since my shoulder at present simply won’t allow me to set them aside, I will have to forge on. So, what follows might contain a few dangling participles, misplaced modifiers, and even for me, over the top hyperbole. But the news this morning that practically every phone call, text message, Skype exchange or e-mail that has originated from my house has been handed over to the National Security Agency for the last 7 years has to be dealt with today, or my head might explode.
After 9/11, a hideous piece of legislation, born in fear, and passed virtually unanimously was appoved as an emergency measure to give our vast National Security apparatus great powers to confront our terrorist enemies. The treacherously named Patriot Act has been the law of the land ever since. Despite the political caterwauling back and forth, both parties were on board and have largely remained on board ever since. The law’s most recent extension was shepherded through Congress by none other than Nancy Pelosi. Well, now thanks to an intrepid reporter from a BRITISH newspaper the Guardian, we have discovered just how much of our privacy we have lost. Even the darkest conspiracy theorists among us would have been hard pressed to come up with the facts of this revelation, the sheer scale of this invasion of personal privacy.
Late yesterday I actually read someone on National Review DEFEND this practice, a supposedly conservative, small government publication defending the biggest power grab of our lifetime. One’s phone records carry with them no expectation of privacy, this idiot argued, since you can call Verizon yourself and they will give you your phone records for as far back as you like. Yes, that’s true, you WashingtonDC insider moron, but having my phone company give my phone records to ME upon MY request is just a little different than my phone company giving those records to the GOVERNMENT without my consent!!
But Doug, but Doug, those terrible terrorist are lurking around every corner. Yes they are, as was just demonstrated to us by the two brothers in Boston. How come the sweeping Patriot Act powers didn’t prevent that attack? We are empowering our government by voluntarily giving up our rights as free men and women in exchange for an unrealistic expectation of safety that cannot possible exist. Is it worth it? The National Review defender closed out his argument this way, “ The problem here is not government power, it’s the people we have elected to wield it.”
This may very well be the worst sentence to appear in the National Review in 20 years. The secret intercept of billions of personal phone records of private citizens isn’t about government power gone wild, no, no,…it’s just about having Democrats like Obama and Holder in power?? This would all be perfectly fine if Chris Christie were at the helm?
No, Mr. Andrew McCarthy of National Review magazine, this is exhibit A in why our constitution is about LIMITING the power of government. It manifestly matters not how sterling a character we have in the Oval Office, because history tells us that power is the great corrupter. This is ALL about government power, you mental midget, and it has precious little to do with who wields it. The Patriot Act was a mistake made by free people in a moment of panic, and needs to be repealed at once. But guess what? Politicians from both sides of the aisle, having tasted the power of unrestricted surveillance, will not be in any hurry to give it up unless we the people raise a little bipartisan hell of our own and force them to.