So says Edward Snowden, the former NSA analyst who has come forward as the source of recent NSA “leaks” involving the government’s role in gathering intelligence information.
Some personal perspective: I spent several years as a firefighter, ultimately reaching the rank of Captain. We, by necessity, work very closely with law enforcement. Both agencies are public, para-military organizations. I witnessed first-hand abuses by law enforcement, both physical and constitutional. On one occasion, I saw a deputy take a homeless teen behind a building and “talk to him”…the teen returned ruffled and bruised. It was clear what the “talking to” involved. I don’t have a monopoly on witnessing this kind of “stretching the rules” but I mention it to gain some insight on the matter at hand. The police departments that I worked with were willing to break the law to advance what they collectively saw as a greater good. In many, if not most cases, I agreed with their actions at the time. It’s called “group-think” and it’s very east to succumb to in this line of work.
Now let’s up the stakes by, say, infinity…you are the United States Government and you are mandated with protecting your citizens from an increasingly sophisticated enemy, Jihadists from non nation-states that do not follow the conventional rules of warfare.
After 911, I think it’s safe to say that I and many others felt that “all bets were off” in the immediacy surrounding the horrible attack. But with time comes perspective and a return to sanity, and a return to a “normal” state of non knee-jerk responsiveness that has apparently continued unabated in the security apparatchiks of this country.
I discussed John Kiriakou recently here and my outrage at his imprisonment for essentially calling out his government for not playing by its own rules.
Now Edward Snowden. He contends that the level of governmental intrusion is far greater than we have been led to believe, and based upon my personal experiences, I believe him. We are only being exposed to the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our governments anti-terror programs. Journalist Jeremy Scahill’s new film and book “Dirty Wars” promises to shine further light on these dark recesses of our national obsession with “security”.
Is all this justified? Is it okay to wiretap and spy on your own citizens and God knows what else will be revealed? Maybe it is…maybe these actions, taken clearly outside the letter and intent of our Bill of Rights are vital to our collective safety. But here’s the deal…in order for us, you know, the citizens of the country that employ you, to make an informed decision, we need transparency. We need to be brought into the loop just enough to know if what you guys are doing is both necessary and just. And right now, with an absolute lack of transparency, we simply have President Obama “assuring” us that it’s not invasive and it’s in our best interest.
Mr. President, I’ve voted for you twice. I admired your background as a Constitutional Law Professor. You are lying to us and you have lost my support. Until you can convince me that these draconian measures are CRITICAL to our well-being, you are simply another corporate talking head. Another minion of the military-industrial complex furthering our descent into fascism.
I have no illusions that this blog will not be “flagged” in some third-party corporate “metadatabase”…and that’s a shame. My father fought and nearly died in two wars to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. I served over 20 years protecting the public in the emergency services field and I am not about to roll over on the principles of this country.
I want answers.
I want transparency.
And I want more people like Edward Snowden to come forward and do the right thing…