“We armed the jihadis in Afghanistan, they won, and elements of them turned against us. You cannot redouble our efforts in Syria for a political solution after we’ve blown the crap out of the place. The absolute blindness of our political and governing elites to the fact that this country has no credibility in this part of the world continues to amaze and astound. We tell the people there that we are waging a limited, targeted war, and they will tell us, fuck you, you’re killing people here again. We have arranged that part of the world to the point where we get blamed for everything. It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is. Please, Mr. President, don’t listen to the people you’re listening to any more.”
“My concern is that the very existence of this kind of capability chills free speech in a disastrous way. I cannot see how there can be investigative reporting of the national security community, when the identity, the location, the metadata, and really the contents of every communication between a journalist and every source, every journalist, every source, is known to the executive branch, especially one that has been prosecuting twice as many journalist — sources as any president before. … Moreover, my even larger concern is, I don’t see how democracy can survive when one branch, the executive branch, has all the personal communications of every member of Congress, and every judge, every member of the judiciary, as well as the press, the fourth estate that I have just been describing.”
Remember how those senators were shaken and panicked when the protesters kept busting into the chambers?
They should always be like that.
They should never be comfortable.
They should always feel like their decisions can stir a crowd like we saw today.
chaptertwelve asked:So. Given what we’ve learned in the past few days, and bearing in mind what we may learn in the days ahead, what do you imagine as our best and worst case scenarios in terms of a path forward? How do you see all of this playing out in the near and distant future?
1. Best case scenario, public outcry grows, and politicians feel pressured to put protections into the law that require probable cause for individualized warrants, and prohibit the blanket kind of surveillance that’s been used by the administration. The FISA court is changed in some way that makes it an actual check on potential abuse. Perhaps the Supreme Court is permitted to review all FISA judgments in camera in some kind of audit for abuse.
2. Worst case scenario, most of the public never cares about the surveillance. Other stories push the issue from the news, and the government continues to amass large amounts of private information concerning all citizens. The FBI starts to access this information for non-terrorist cases. Other government agencies do the same. The IRS checks your online purchases. The EPA monitors purchases of materials that might pollute. Those who express controversial opinions or visit controversial websites are watched. Rogue government employees access private data for their own person gain—selling it to interested parties, blackmailing people engaged in extramarital affairs, stealing identities. You’ll come home from work to find that your home has been ransacked by a SWAT team pursuant to a warrant issued by a secret court for unspecified reasons.
I fear that that the most likely outcome is closer to 2 than 1. Consider how crazy the drug war has become—the massive amounts of money spent to fight it, the increasingly militarized local police forces that enforce prohibition, the asset forfeiture laws that take private property from innocent citizens without any due process, and the massive incarceration of millions of people for extraordinarily long periods of time. At the beginning of the drug war, you’d be laughed at for suggesting that this would happen. But it did, because people just didn’t care, and drugs were scary. Terrorism is scarier than drugs, so you can imagine how that’s going to play out.
(reposted for reblogging)
(P.S. Hey Tumblr, your mobile app is fucking terrible.)
“Civil liberties are not something you get to ‘trade,’ not least because they don’t all belong to you. They belong to me, too, and to the woman at the next table here at the Commonwealth Avenue Starbucks — Oh, c’mon, you knew where I was anyway, NSA guys. — and to the four people who just walked down the street past the big plate-glass window. You give yours away, you’re giving mine away, too, whether I want you to do so or not. Therefore, we all surrender those civil liberties. We do not trade them because we don’t get anything back. And it’s not like we can cut another deal later to get them back.”
“Perhaps most disturbing about the Attorney General’s letter is that it leaves totally unexplained why the United States has killed so many innocent non-American citizens in its strikes in Pakistan and Yemen. Yet, from my investigation on the ground in a variety of countries, I’ve become convinced that we are making more new enemies than we are killing terrorists. We must confront the realities of the full impact of our ‘targeted’ killing program, particularly when innocent civilians are killed, so that we can have a real debate about whether our counterterrorism strategies are enhancing or degrading our national security.”
“So, you know, it’s either timely ‘justice’ or it’s grave injustice. But either way, it’s quick. And apparently Florida legislators just like their justice or injustice to happen quickly. … If you have to kill a few innocent people in order to get revenge as fast as possible against several dozen guilty people, well, that’s a good deal, right? … I’ll just go ahead and answer my own question: No, Florida, it’s not.”