Are you a lawmaker? Maybe, a lawmaker with aspirations for higher office? Maybe you’d like to be President someday? Do you think the NSA spying programs are just peachy because Terrorism? Well, why don’t you just punch yourself in the face right now?
Let’s you and I have a little talk about those aspirations you have, with close reference to this week’s revelations from NSA whistleblower Russ Tice, shall we?
Before you even ran for office, you had secrets. We know that. Maybe not illegal secrets, but still plenty of stuff you’d rather not have splashed all over the front page of the Herald or the Globe. You put a lot on the line, personally and financially, to run for office. When you do, you make yourself fair game for the press, but not all of you. There are lines that journalists usually won’t cross, and it’s only that quiet bargain that makes it possible for people to be in public life at all.
Now, as Russ Tice reveals, it turns out that when you start being talked about as a candidate for federal office, the NSA has a practice of swinging in and looking at all of your stuff. Forget the Fourth Amendment. Forget that you’re not accused of any crime. The NSA doesn’t give a crap. The NSA has set the price of participation in government, at their knowing all there is to know about you. Who gave them the right to do that?
Next time it comes up for you to vote on, say, the NSA’s budget, or the scope of its programs, or on whether what they’re doing is constitutional or right, do you want to have to vote knowing that they have the goods on you?
They spied on a newly-minted US senator with big ears and a funny name from Illinois. And after they spied on him, he shifted from talking about reining in the intelligence agencies to giving them the freest hand ever. Was that a coincidence? What makes you think you’re exempt?
Who do you think the “boss” is in this situation? Here’s a clue: it ain’t you, and in a democracy, it ought to be.
So why hand the intelligence agencies power over you? When law enforcement asks you for more wiretapping powers, don’t pretend you won’t be included. You will. You’re giving your whole political future into the hands of anonymous analysts, and simply trusting they won’t use it to destroy your career. Is that smart? Is that safe?
The people who hold the secrets, hold the power. If you give law enforcement the freest possible hand, they will happily use that hand to smack you down if you get out of line. So here in Massachusetts, vote against the Act Updating the Wire Interception Law; federally, vote for the Udall-Wyden bill. Be who you’re supposed to be – the representatives of the people, not the prisoners of the surveillance state.
Note: This video may be useful for context.