A Salon headline asks, “The Secret Service’s Mind-blowing Abuse of Power: Why do Government Agencies Keep Spying on Lawmakers?” The article focuses on a report from Homeland Security detailing how Secret Service employees hacked into private databases in an effort to find and leak intimidating and embarrassing information about a vocal critic of the agency, Chair of the House Oversight Committee Jason Chavetz.
The answer to Salon’s headline question is very simple, government agencies spy on lawmakers to intimidate them and keep the money pipeline flowing into their agencies’ coffers. It’s a form of blackmail, and it works extremely well. Despite the occasional outburst of indignation when the spooks get publically caught with their hand in the cookie jar, the system in place to keep elected officials quiet and generous runs smoothly. Heck, no one even knows exactly how much money Congress gives our surveillance agencies because it’s all top secret, you understand.
Everyone has skeletons in their closets and, if you’re a Congressperson, you are acutely aware that the NSA, CIA, Secret Service and other organizations have access to every detail of your past, and won’t be afraid to reveal it if necessary. So, when funding time rolls around, you’re more than happy to give our spies whatever they desire.
This is definitely not the type of check and balance our forefathers had in mind. In fact, they would be appalled at what only nominally passes for a federal government in the United States. The Supreme Court is in the clutches of partisan ideologues beholden to the one percent, the executive branch (since George Bush) has given itself unprecedented powers to wage war any damn place it wants and murder anyone it pleases, and Congress is a dysfunctional mental asylum made up of half-wits and demagogues who are the property of America’s billionaires.
The “why” in the Salon headline is simple to answer, but the “how,” as in how do we fix the corrupt mess we call our government, is nearly impossible to answer without some very drastic changes.