AEIdeas

The public policy blog of the American Enterprise Institute

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Discussion: (7 comments)

  1. anonymous

    What I would like to know is what is going to be done about it? The government is out of control. The rule of law is a myth. Is the problem going to get better or worse? What is going to stop it from getting worse and cause it to get better? I can’t envision anything stopping this degeneration into chaos.

  2. Thiessen: “The details of how we collect signals intelligence on our enemies — and the restrictions we place on the NSA to protect civil liberties — must, of necessity, remain secret.”

    How about knowing the generalities? Just how are NSA employees and the political operatives of our government prevented from bad acts? What keeps them from mining that data to blackmail or influence citizens, companies, political enemies (the other party) and political competitors (the same party).

    We already live under a government where crimes (violations of law) are punished by resignation. Later, these criminals do something else for their party, usually in other government jobs. That isn’t a punishment, it is a cost of doing dirty business.

    Military analysts have a philosophy: “ability must be considered to be intent”. If an enemy has a weapon, we must assume that he will use it. The only question is how to deter or defend against that use.

    The government has assembled, and will do more to assemble, a vast database on the people. It will be used to track enemy communications, OK. It will also be used to attack citizens and opponents. The only question is, what are the real safeguards and penalties which will deter that despicable use?

  3. James M. Kearns

    Well said. The basic problem is that government is much to too large and intrusive. Period. Demand limited government.

  4. For the past week, I have been defending the Obama administration on the NSA surveillance leaks. In my Washington Post column and TV and radio interviews, I have tried to explain that Big Brother is not watching you, no one is listening to your phone calls or reading your emails.

    Those are facts. But people don’t believe it. If this administration abused its power at the IRS, they ask, why should we trust them not to do the same at the NSA?

    This is pure BS. Why was it that Joseph Nacchio was jailed on trumped up charges for doing what every other CEO or director does in his position AFTER he denied the NSA access? When the law says a company cannot disclose contracts with security agencies how is a CEO supposed to disclose the increased revenues from those contracts before he buys shares of his company? And if that really is a crime why aren’t all the CEOs and directors of all the other companies that play ball with the NSA not charged for doing the same thing?

    As a foreigner who is a great admirer of the very principles that the United States was built upon it saddens me to see so many good people act as sheep rather than stand up for their rights. If you really care about your country it might help if you stood up for the Constitution rather than those that abuse it.

  5. J. S. Anderson

    As the “compact of trust” between the people and their government erodes, calamity awaits. As reflected by the abysmal approval ratings of Congress, there is no hope it can stop and repair the erosion. At the federal level, lying, cheating, willfully disobeying the law, obfuscating, deflecting, misrepresenting the truth, and generally failing to be held accountable and responsible for ones actions are no longer the exceptions, but are rather the rule. Seeking to attain and retain political power has become the sole purpose of politicians. Elect and re-elect, at any cost. As long as we accept career politicians without morale compasses who seek power for power’s sake, the erosion of trust will continue. Enacting term limits, by law (very unlikely) or by the ballot (somewhat unlikely in gerrymandered districts), is a first good step towards breaking the hold of elected officials controlled by special interest groups (from both the left and right). Unfortunately, the erosion will most likely continue until it causes some major damage. Then we, the people, may act to correct the trend of career politicians.

  6. MR FAIRTAX

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    1. How hypocritical is this? You want the government to hunt down and kill a whistleblower who exposed its illegal spying on American citizens but get pissed off when the IRS targets conservative groups? Don’t you think that some of the information gathered by the spies can be used to target any group the government does not like? So why the two different stands?

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