Today, it was revealed that Barack Obama has, for years, and with the knowledge of the U.S. Senate, been seizing billions of records about the private telephone calls made by tens of millions of Americans.
An anonymous official from the Obama Administration reacted by saying that the program is a “critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats”.
This leaves me wondering what’s supposed to protect us from Obama’s “critical tools”. How many other critical tools is Obama going to inflict us with?
If spying on the private activities of tens of millions of Americans is a critical tool, then how many terrorists are out there? Hundreds of thousands? Really, just how many telephone calls does Barack Obama need to search through to protect us all?
Does the Obama Administration understand what the word critical actually means? The word critical refers to a particular moment in time when there is a special need, or a gathered mass of sufficient size to stimulate an extraordinary event. Something truly critical is not just run of the mill. Yet, according to Senator Saxby Chambliss, the federal government, first under George W. Bush and then under Barack Obama, have been engaging in the kind of massive electronic surveillance of Americans that was exposed today for seven years.
A secret spying program that lasts so long is by definition not critical. It is a sustained, perrennial tool. It is part of a new vision of normalcy. Surveillance against Americans by our own government through our phones, our computers, our tablets, is the new standard operating procedure.
There is no evidence of any critical threat to justify the Bush-Obama Big Brother spying operation. Of course, the government can always claim that such a critical threat exists, but is being kept top secret, but that’s not the way things are supposed to work in a democracy. Americans cannot be responsible citizens when the truth is kept from them – whether that truth is about electronic surveillance or about terrorists.
There is, unfortunately, a genuine critical element in American politics that supports Barack Obama’s program to snoop into the private conversations of millions of Americans. There is a critical mass of political tools: Politicians and voters alike who will refuse to stand against the surveillance program because their own favorite political party is involved in the scandal. Republican politicians and voters won’t speak up because it was their President, George W. Bush, who invented the surveillance network. Democratic politicians and voters won’t speak up because it’s their President, Barack Obama, who has expanded the electronic spying network and continued to use it primarily against Americans.
Don’t be one of these critical tools. Stand up and demand that the electronic surveillance networks set up under the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act be shut down.