There are secrets, and there are secrets.
In the United States of America, the individual no longer has any right to keep secrets. The Fourth Amendment has been “balanced” into irrelevance by the Bush-Obama regime of Homeland Security. The National Security Agency, a military spy organization, is seizing Americans’ private information in massive amounts on a daily basis, with NSA agents searching through it at will.
The security state, however, claims an absolute, unquestionable right to keep secrets. The Executive Branch of the federal government under George W. Bush and Barack Obama has claimed the right to declare any piece of information a secret, without having to explain the secret to anybody.
The absurdity of state secrets has reached new heights with the government response to the revelation of the NSA’s massive electronic surveillance. Yesterday, Glenn Greenwald reported that U.S. Representative Alan Grayson was recently been reprimanded by the House Permanent Select Committee On Intelligence for distributing classified documents to other members of Congress.
Those top secret classified government documents were nothing other than the documents made public by whistleblower Edward Snowden. They have been published in newspapers and web sites around the world. Yet, those intent on maintaining the Homeland Security regime have insisted that the documents remain secret, and that members of Congress must not be allowed to see them, upon threat of legal punishment.
With all the loose talk about classified government secrets, it is easy to forget that the power of secret government is not established in the Constitution. Nowhere does the Constitution provide the power to “classify” documents for the sake of national security. The only time that government secrecy is provided for in the Constitution is for the Congress, in Article 1, Section 5, which provides for the congressional power to withhold some information from its published journal.
As for the idea of “balancing” security and freedom, in the Constitution, the two are regarded as one and the same, not the opposites that the Republicans and Democrats under Bush and Obama have described. In the Constitution, the concept of security is only mentioned in terms of the importance of securing the rights of the individual, as in the Fourth Amendment, which declares that: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…”
Under the Constitution, security is for the people, against excessive state power. Under Homeland Security, security is for the state, against the power of the people.