When it comes to the NSA, the hypocrisy amongst supporters is absolutely appalling.
The domestic spying of the NSA is a complete failure– we know that by the lack of any trials concerning terrorism since the passing of the Patriot Act.
But most proponents, who are for the most part business Democrats and Republicans (in contrast to populist Democrats, libertarians, and tea partiers), seem to ignore that the law applies to them too.
Yesterday, Tuesday, Senator Feinstein (D-CA), the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a staunch supporter of the NSA, accused the CIA of spying on committee investigations tasked with investigating torture by the CIA.
I get the point that the CIA shouldn’t be trying to suppress the torture report. But the fact of the matter is, it’s ridiculously hypocritical to criticize the CIA for spying on you when you support unconditional ubiquitous government spying.
The most general argument for the NSA is “You’re not breaking the law, so you shouldn’t be worried.”
Feinstein isn’t breaking the law, so why the hell does she have a problem with being spied on?
Snowden, who attacked Feinstein as a hypocrite, noted this as a “Merkel Effect” (Background: German Chancellor Angela Merkel was pissed that the US was spying on the German citizenry, but didn’t do shit about it), “where an elected official does not care at all that the rights of millions of ordinary citizens are violated by our spies, but suddenly it’s a scandal when a politician finds out the same thing happens to them”.
Feinstein had the temerity to demand an apology and an acknowledgement of wrongdoing by the CIA, all while claiming that your privacy is completely irrelevant!
This forms the basis of American government: crony capitalism. Politicians see themselves as out of the range of authority of the government, and they make sure they are, along with their Wall Street buddies. As Elizabeth Warren put it: “Anyone else want to tell me about the last time you took a Wall Street bank to trial?”
As Republicans demand tax cuts and decreased spending, but more wars, NSA advocates support ubiquitous spying but decry it when they become the subject.
Let me present another idea, in the form of a proof.
Given: Snowden leaked NSA documents concerning classified stuff.
Given: Feinstein’s committee is planning on releasing a 6000+ page document on CIA torture.
Given: the CIA is a government agency, mostly carrying out secret operations.
Postulate 1: The CIA’s torture stuff is secret, as it’s carried out in secret.
Basic Human Rights Law: Torture is wrong.
Postulate 2: Because torture is wrong, it is justified to release secret CIA information on it for the sake of preserving Basic Human Rights. (See Article 5)
Feinstein is outraged that the CIA is violating her constitutional rights and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which limits federal jurisdiction to cases with “a compelling federal interest”. Transcript of the speech, if you want.
Postulate 3: Violation of constitutional rights via spying is wrong, according to Feinstein.
Postulate 4: Because violation of constitutional rights via spying is wrong, according to Feinstein, it is justified to release secret NSA information on it for the sake of preserving Basic Human Rights. (See Article 12)
Postulate 4 contradicts with Given. Snowden is a traitor according to Feinstein, but also according to Feinstein it is justified for him to have released the NSA documents. So either Feinstein and every person trying to get released the torture report is a traitor, or Snowden wasn’t one. Oops. Well, what goes around comes around.
However, at least one good thing is coming out of this. The European Parliament is getting ready to inveigh against the NSA’s ubiquitous spying program. Snowden is still on the back burner, but… it’s a start. Perhaps it’ll finally be some group besides the United States to dictate policy!
Let me sum Feinstein’s crisis up with a comment from here:
When the NSA is spying on Americans, it’s for the glory of “Homeland Security”.
But when that same security apparatus is spying on our politicians, it’s a “Constitutional Crisis”.