WASHINGTON – The federal advisory on privacy is that if you want total security of communications, get two tin cans, empty them, dry them out, connect them with taut waxed butcher string and talk into them across your backyard.
If you have a better idea, please write.
Just days after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., courageously forced Congress and the White House to order the National Security Agency to stop collecting data on all our phone calls, new huge breaches of American security were disclosed: That hackers working for the Chinese Communist regime compromised records of millions of our federal workers; and that our own government, without notice, expanded the NSA’s spying on Americans’ international Internet traffic.
Just before that, it was revealed that the FBI has hired a fleet of airplanes, using phony corporate names, to spy on Americans.
Was Paul’s filibuster worth it? Yes, and no. Yes, because the Senate compromised and sent a bill for President Obama’s signature that forced the NSA to stop collecting metadata on all our phone calls without warrant. Private communications companies will keep the information instead, if they wish to, and it can be examined only via court order.
Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch, said the new code is a “sham” because the NSA and CIA never pay attention to the law.
Still, Paul’s is a historic achievement. He was virtually alone among big-name politicians who picked up and ran with the information on NSA spying disclosed two years ago by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who has residency in Russia until 2017.
But was Paul’s crusade worth it? Maybe not. The security industry’s power is so vast, and so secret, that organizations such as the FBI, CIA and NSA do indeed break the law with impunity – over and over again. All they need to shred constitutional codes on individual freedoms is secret permission from the attorney general.
The NSA, using its secret “black budget,” has more than two dozen facilities, sprung up like mushrooms, here and overseas. The security matrix has strong support here among parts of the mainstream media, succumbing to what this column will call journalistic porn. An egregious example of it was David Gregory, then moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” accusing journalist Glenn Greenwald of crimes because of his association with whistleblower Snowden.
More subtle examples were CNN’s and Fox News’ long interviews with former CIA director James Woolsey in which Woolsey warned of the dire effects on America’s security because of Paul’s Senate work and Snowden’s leaks. The trouble was that neither CNN nor Fox, true to form, revealed Woolsey’s vast corporate links to security contractors.
Recent polls by Rasmussen and CNN show that Americans are more and more concerned about maintaining national security than protecting their privacy. One reason is growing American fear of radical Muslim extremists operating in the United States and abroad and our need to track them. Another is boredom.
All this leads to hardening the pattern of arbitrary power – parallel to trends in campaign finance – of the central government. It’s called statism.
The best antidote for this is election next year as president of a person of great experience and unquestioned integrity.
Personalities aside, history shows that Americans only twice pushed a casserole of civil rights into a hot oven. The first was during the reigns of the English kings George II and III. The second was in the aftermath of Watergate and Vietnam War turbulence. They produced the Bill of Rights that we still have and campaign finance laws, overturned by the Supreme Court.