The one thing people need to understand about the U.S. Constitution is that it does not have force. The government has force. So in that sense, the Constitution says exactly whatever the government says it says.
That is why no “constitutional” government ever violates the constitution. If the president does it, then it’s legal, as Nixon said.
The government puts on a dance of the seven legal veils, now you see it, now you don’t, appoints some compliant pussies to a secret court, strong-arms a few congressional representatives into complicity, beats its breast and weeps copious tears about how the greatest intrusion into citizens’ private lives is “constitutional” and legal and you should see how many terrorists we are catching! Except we haven’t caught anybody, yet. Except, it’s a secret. We can’t tell you because then we would have to have trials and facts and evidence, and we shouldn’t have to bother, because everyone knows the guys were caught were guilty, even if the only evidence is the compromised testimony of a corrupt informant.
Given the esteem with which Congress is now held by the American people, it is rather preposterous for defenders of the extensive surveillance conducted by the U.S. Government to keep tooting about Congressional oversight– it’s all okay, some congressmen and senators knew about it– as if that makes it constitutional. I’m not putting words into anyone’s mouth here: tonight on the PBS News Hour, that is exactly what some former general or admiral said. That’s like saying that the man who broke into your home at night and read all your mail was wearing a police uniform. Therefore, it was not a break-in.
Then you have the absurdity of Government spokesmen, including Obama himself, and Diane Feinstein, saying he would “welcome” a debate about the issue of the Government keeping a log of all your phone calls. But first, let’s string up the guy who let the cat out of the bag.
If the government had ever publicly announced that it was going to pass legislation enabling it to collect the data they are now collecting about all of your phone calls (and e-mail messages, and Facebook posts– let’s not fool ourselves), there would have been such an uproar that it would never have been passed, and they know it. The only reason about half the population right now approves of the measure is, firstly, because there are a lot of stupid people out there who don’t really give a damn about privacy or freedom, and, secondly, because it it was never proposed and discussed first. The results of any kind of discussion of this kind of extensive surveillance plan is a foregone conclusion: it would have been howled into oblivion. First the leaders, the lawyers, the constitutional experts, the civil rights activists would have spoken, and then the generals, the authoritarians, the nanny-state advocates, and the old white senators would have spoken.
And maybe then even some of those conservatives who wail like hysterical little wussies about intrusive government when it tries to pass a safety regulation or limit carbon emissions would have realized that Government surveillance of your phone records is a far greater threat to freedom than Obamacare ever was.
If the U.S. decided to kill Edward Snowden, can a drone reach Hong Kong? Ah, but the U.S. would never do that, would they? Well, they wouldn’t, but it’s instructive to consider why not. We send them to Pakistan all the time. What’s the difference?
Well, Pakistan is relatively powerless. They can’t do anything to us when we violate their airspace. China, however, obviously can.
Next, you’ll say, but Edward J. Snowden is an American Citizen! They can’t assassinate him, can they? Well, they probably won’t, now that he has gone public. They can’t disappear him now, I think. But if you can justify obtaining and storing millions of private phone records, and killing alleged American terrorists abroad, why not kill someone who is just as much of a “threat” to national security?
Aside from the fact that it’s too late.
Just to repeat what I’ve been saying for a long long time: there is no “war” on terror and there never was. This is a lie.
It could only be true if it were possible to prove that there would ever be circumstances in which we did not have any attacks that could be labeled as “terrorist” and held as justification for “war”. If you go back 30, 40, 50 years, you will find that there never was such a time. (Read your history: the air plane hijackings, the bombing in Beirut, the first World Trade Center attack, the Oklahoma bombing, etc., etc.) Therefore, the government is essentially arguing that we are always at war, therefore, “extraordinary” measures are always justified. There fore they are not justified. Therefore, the government is building a police state.
During the entirety of the “troubles” in Ireland, Britain never enacted laws giving the government the powers it gave itself after 9/11. We’ve been hoaxed by authoritarian officials who will never not try to aggregate as much power and authority as a conscientious citizenry will allow it.
The question is, do we even have a “conscientious citizenry” any more? It appears that the government– especially the Bush/Cheney regime– has succeeded in frightening people into submission. The people should be ashamed of themselves.