NSA undermining our nationPublished 10:00am Friday, August 23, 2013
Those among us who endlessly call for smaller government use “smaller” as a descriptive to imply that virtually all government is bad, and that no matter the physical size of government measured by the payroll or number of employees, government is intrinsically just bad.
They are wrong, of course,, as there is an abundance of evidence that the history of government in America has done a great deal of what can only be defined, in equally loose terminology, as “good”, whether it is the TVA, the Hoover Dam, the national highway system, or so many other useful projects.
But these critics are correct at least in one arena, the creeping growth of the national security industry, as aided and abetted by useful members of Congress and past and current presidents.
After 9-11 Americans made what can only be recalled as a willing choice to sacrifice some freedom for some additional security. There were few outcries when the mammoth cluster of agencies was grouped into what would become Homeland Security.
The voices of concern were easily dismissed when the Patriot Act was passed, law that contained privacy sacrifices that the FBI later confessed to violating on several occasions.
But these were only the beginning of the demise of privacy for Americans, the first slippery slope to a tradeoff for security over freedom.
Today our inner cities are policed with the aid of security cameras in high crime areas; drones are being sold to law enforcement before laws regulating them can be implemented; and the nefarious TSA continues to expand its footprint on flight security while it searches babies and grandmas for the tools of terrorism.
Our southern border is and has been becoming a security industry toy, where hundreds of billions of dollars are spent to an industry that is transferring its sales from Middle Eastern wars to American security investments.
The argument has been progressive in favor of security. First came the attack of 9-11, a fair justification for considering recognition that we are not isolated in a dangerous world.
So there was a rationale of threat, followed by several measures by government to protect our citizens. Following that came the reports of excess in following the new laws, a predictable advance. Then came the broader revelations that the NSA, an agency directed to watch foreign communications, was tracking Americans with their tools of technology.
At the same time we discovered that the CIA, another agency legislatively directed to avoid action in the U.S. has also been active in our security, violating its Congressional mandate.
Now comes more and more facts about just how sweeping those violations have been, how pervasive the invasion of constitutional privacy has become with justifications that should never be honored.
There is an axiom about information; if you collect it you will, at some point, find a use for what you have collected. Those who argue we should not worry about the broad and sweeping collection of information about American citizens fail to acknowledge that violations of the law, willful ignoring of regulation, and tolerance of these “harmless” exceptions all contribute to an America that is not the nation we want in a free society.
Some would argue that these dangerous violations are necessary, that sacrifice for security is essential in the world of today. They are wrong; trading freedom for security is always a bad deal.
While all government is certainly not “bad,”and America has been graced with government that long protected our freedoms, today we face security challenges that cannot and should not be justified.
Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.