For the last few weeks, we’ve seen almost daily revelations about how our government, the State, is spying on its citizens in the name of national security. Top government officials, up to the President, lied to us from the day of Snowden’s story first broke. Who can forget the image of the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, sweating profusely and rubbing his head as he there was now way the NSA was collecting data on American citizens except inadvertently. But, it’s not just the NSA that is abusing their powers, is it? The IRS and the DOJ and the SEC and who knows how many other government agencies have apparently forgotten the whole purpose of establishing our federal government was to protect our rights to live free. It was We The People who established the federal government and granted it certain limited powers. Two and a half centuries later, it is We The People who live in fear of the monster we created.
Peggy Noonan’s article, A Nation of Sullen Paranoids, in the Wall Street Journal is an excellent read. Maybe I was so taken by it because she, in a more professional and elegant manner, echoes the comment I have left at the sites on my blogroll; that is, until or unless the overwhelming majority of the American people demonstrate their outrage over this clear over-reach by our government, the surveilance-state, the police-state will continue to grow.
Readers of my columns and blog posts see an NSA theme: There are too many built-in dynamics that make the national-security state want to grow, from legitimate fears of terrorism, to bureaucratic pride, to the flaws in human nature. And there are too many dynamics that will allow it to grow. The aftermath of 9/11 happened to coincide with a new burst in American technological innovation and discovery: The government has the ways and means to do pretty much anything now, and if they can do it they will do it.
If the citizens of the United States don’t put up a halting hand, the government can’t be expected to. It is in the nature of security professionals to always want more, and since their mission is worthy they’re less likely to have constitutional qualms, to dwell on such abstractions as abuse of the Fourth Amendment and the impact of that abuse on the First.
At one point in her article, Noonan refers to the memoir of Stella Rimington, who was the Director of the British spy agency MI5 in the 1990s:
In the preface of the 2002 edition she is already concerned about a loss of civil liberties. Terrorism didn’t begin on 9/11, she says, it has been with the modern world since at least the late 1960s, and it isn’t going away anytime soon. We must commit ourselves to do everything we can, within the law and within our most valued traditions, to oppose and thwart it. But, she suggests, you don’t want to lose your country—the thing you are so anxious to defend—in your effort to save your country. _ (emphasis added)
It is the part in bold I ask you to focus on for a moment. Folks, our constitution is the tool, the mechanism that We The People used to create the federal government. It contains certain enumerated powers, which if you haven’t read them lately please go to the top of this where you will find a link that will direct you to that part of constitution. The purpose to the federal government was/is, in simple terms, to protect our God-given rights and to protect us from all enemies foreign and domestic. Most of the time, identifying foreign enemies is not that difficult. However, there does seem to be a problem in identifying “domestic” enemies.
For most of your and my life time, when our federal government talked of “domestic” enemies, they would be talking about skin heads or paramilitary groups training in some secluded forest somewhere or it was some fringe religious group. None of these groups were what could be called a credible threat to our nation or to We The People. Since Barack Obama has been President, the government’s idea of “domestic” enemies has become defined as those citizens who believe in the strict interpretation of the constitution, who believe as our Founders did that the best government is one the governs the least. But, as our Founders also knew, it is the nature of governments to want to govern more and more. It is the nature of governments to try to concentrate power to its self.
For We The People, the “domestic” enemy that is the greatest threat to our God-given rights is an over-reaching government. When citizens fear their government more than the government fears its citizens, a constitutional republic is no longer possible.
Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?