Monday, October 28, 2013

How the NSA and CIA keep politicians in line

As new revelations about NSA spying break almost daily, I can’t help but ask myself how we can stop this monster with tentacles stretching around the globe and deep into our private lives? Articles published today claim that Obama didn’t know the NSA was spying on world leaders. I doubt that’s true, but if it is, what else doesn’t the President know about our surveillance operations?

Putting an end to these technically legal but clearly unconstitutional practices is going to be very difficult for many reasons, but here is one thought I had about why I think Congress has been so “cooperative” in giving the spooks what they want and allowing them to lie with impunity. I call it the silent conspiracy.

Let’s say I’m a congressman who is not comfortable with what’s going on with our super secret surveillance policies. Now I’ve been in many closed-door meetings over the years with our top cyber spies and I’ve learned a lot about how they operate and the amazing ways that they can gain access to information about individuals. I’ve also learned how they routinely eliminate enemies in ways that make it look like an accident or suicide. And when they say “enemies,” they’re not talking only about terrorists.

As I think about my objections to the current surveillance programs, and then weigh that against what I know the NSA or CIA could do to me if they saw me as an enemy, I decide to shelve my doubts and welcome the new world realities. No one has to make any overt threats. Words are not necessary. I give them what they want or I will face consequences. Some embarrassing event from my past might suddenly go public. I could wake up one morning to headlines about my drug problems or a tax issue. And, if I really insist on pushing the issue, I might one day find my car’s computer has been hacked and I’m heading for a light pole at 90 miles per hour.

Those few politicians and journalists who are willing to stand up to the NSA are truly brave souls. It will take many more people with courage, and our encouragement and votes, to put the brakes on the Orwellian state of affairs in which we find ourselves today.

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