Friday, May 12, 2006

Why We Must Draw Lines

As expected, the amateur spindoctors of the right (aka rightwing partisan bloggers) are pretending like the news that the NSA is collecting our phone records is no big deal. The always well-written yet routinely vapid Power Line even entitled their post NSA Accused of Protecting Americans from Terrorists. As far as Power Line is concerned, those who are complaining are just whining liberals who hate America.

Well I’m not a liberal and I love this nation and I am disturbed that the NSA is collecting data about my calling habits. And you know why? Because we are a nation of lines drawn to ensure the few who run our government can never overpower the many who make up our nation. The entire Constitution was designed to dilute power and ensure that the people have ultimate control. That model breaks down when we allow government agencies to watch us without any oversight or any congressionally-provided authority.

Look, it’s not that I’m all bent out of shape over this specific program. I really don’t think my freedom is significantly or even marginally jeopardized just because somewhere a government agency has a record of my calling patterns.

That’s not the point. The point is: if the NSA needs no congressional authority to create this call-monitoring program, what else can they do? If we don’t draw lines now, what’s to stop the NSA or any other government agency from going further down this path—monitoring our credit card purchases let’s say. Or tracking our movements?

Some say if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. That’s pure ignorance. There is always reason to fear consolidated power. And the more information our government has on us, the more power they wield over us.

The question is: how much monitoring do we want to endure in our quest for national security? This is not a question for the NSA or the Executive Branch to decide alone. This is a question for us ALL to decide. And don’t tell me that if we reveal our tactics, the terrorists gain an advantage. As far as I’m concerned, the NSA and other agencies can do whatever specific actions are necessary to track down and eliminate terrorists. My concern is with these big-net programs that have the potential of catching a significant number of innocent citizens without ever snagging a terrorist.

We simply must live by the lessons of our Founders and avoid putting undue trust in the good will of our government. We must not abdicate important decisions to the few who are in power. That’s our responsibility as citizens. To argue otherwise is simply missing the point.

4 Comments:

Blogger AubreyJ said...

... 911 was a wakeup call. Fix it we demanded... Now the leading political party of this great country of ours is trying to do just that. Yet-- every time you turn around... a few political motivated news articles... the Dems and those of the left of left try to tear everything apart again. And their arguments are the same as in the 90’s... Afraid of the hypothetical, (the government MIGHT be doing this or that,) not the realities of what the government is really doing to protect us...

This is where we get into trouble, Alan... Our national security plans and tools at hand are not up for national debate. NEVER... If this was to be so... you might as well sit down with the enemy and hand deliver everything we know or do to protect ourselves. That is not how war works... or how one is won.

Problem is that some think otherwise... mostly the leakers and those in the MSM that report these leaks with pride and then get awards for doing... so-called... masterful reporting.

This kind of leaking and reporting is nothing more than a political ploy to take down an idea that one does not like or a war or another political party at the expense of the lives of millions here at home and elsewhere in the world. This leaking is against the law and those who leak and report should ALL be put in jail.

Bottom line... We have elections to vote in the people we TRUST to run this country and protect us. Many do not like the outcome of these elections because their folks lost... but this is HOW the system works.

We also have a system set up by Congress to debate these National Security issues in private. Not in public. And this is just what they have been doing over the last few years.

That is until an unlawful leak comes out and the whole world all of a sudden knows about it. THEN all of a sudden many in the Dem party come out acting all mad and crap... Knowing their posturing is nothing more than an act for political brownie points.

AubreyJ.........

12:08 AM  
Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Aubrey,

I'm pretty sure the Democrats place their own political survival in front of national security--I have little trust in them and no allegiance to them for that very reason.

But I've also got too much of the traditional libertarian Texan in me to feel comfortable with the amount of monitoring our govenment seems headed towards. Certainly 9/11 changed a lot and has required us to alter many of our practices. But if this war is going to go on and on (as it likely will) we have to start seriously debating, out in the open, how much of our freedoms we want to give up in the quest for national security. This wouldn't mean turning over our tactical plans to the enemy--this just means returning to our Founding principles of leaving decisions about our freedom in the hands of the governed rather than the governing.

This should be one of the most important issues in future elections. I only hope we have a few politicians willing to discuss it honestly as opposed to using it as political bait.

6:36 PM  
Blogger AubreyJ said...

Part of President Bush’s Radio Address Saturday went as follows…
“As the 9/11 Commission and others have noted, our government failed to connect the dots in the years before the attacks of September the 11th. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States made phone calls to al Qaeda operatives overseas, but we did not know about their plans until it was too late.”

Alan, you said you had too much of the traditional libertarian Texan in you to feel comfortable with the amount of monitoring our government seems to be headed towards. The Government is not heading there... They are there and have been there some months after 911. How in god’s name can they prevent what happened in the above paragraph if they do not do these things...?

I’m OK with it and so are most Americans too... as long as they stay within the law. If they tap dance the line of almost going to far... that’s OK with me too, as long as we are at war and keep on the fine side of the line that is within the law. I take the President at his word when he says this is what they are doing too.

I’ll also say that the Government is not our enemy. Yet those who try to kill us... tell us all the time who is. We are our own enemy… and the ones who try to kill us-- play us and pray to their god that we again weaken ourselves so badly that they can come in again and kill us in the thousands if not millions.

Alan, you were a 1000% correct when you said… “This should be one of the most important issues in future elections. I only hope we have a few politicians willing to discuss it honestly as opposed to using it as political bait.”

I’ll say this is where the debate should be taking place to start with. Not fired up by some leakers of secrets that harm or kill the many or by those in the MSM who run these stories for their own political whims...

Anyway, thanks for listening...
AubreyJ.........

1:25 AM  
Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Aubrey,

This is an important discussion I'd like to continue.

You say that without these programs, we'd be unable to prevent another 9/11. Well, rounding up all the Muslims and putting them into camps would make us safer too--but we're not going to do it because it's wrong.

And that's what this post is about. You may find it acceptable that the government is keeping a record of who you call, but I'll be you'd be lesst comfortable with them keeping a record of what you write on your blog or what you purchase with your credit card.

We need to decide where we draw the line--we need to come to a consenus as to what is enough security, when do we prefer our liberty over our safety? I don't want to leave that decision up to the executive branch alone. Because even though I doubt there is any abuse of their power now, without clear or pretty clear lines, there is a decent chance that someone down the line is going to abuse their power.

You know I am very much a supporter of the vigorous confronatation of our enemies. But I don't think we have to choose between drawing lines and being safe. I think we can do both.

And I'll be looking for politicians who articulate that vision. Tough and smart.

11:14 PM  

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