The Biggest Assault on Our Democracy Is Coming from the Center of Our Own Government
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"America no longer has a functioning democracy. This invasion of privacy has been excessive, so bringing it to public notice has probably been beneficial —President Jimmy Carter
Millions of Americans will face a basic question in the coming decade: how much loyalty do we owe a U.S. Executive Branch which extracts huge sums from us to spy upon and lie to us, on the false grounds that doing so is protecting us? Or do we owe our moral allegiance to the ideal of democracy, which requires us to fight the Executive which is its enemy?
Senate Intelligence Committee member Ron Wyden recently issued an urgent call to "rein in this omnipresent, ever-expanding surveillance state", warning that "if we don't do it now our generation's going to regret it forever". Wyden and his colleague Mark Udall - who have revealed that even as Senators they have been consistently denied information, lied to, treated like children unable even to take notes, and are even now muzzled from revealing far more massive Executive subversions of democracy than is known - have become the canaries in the coalmine. They warn us that though still largely odorless, colorless and invisible to most of us, poisonous Executive power is slowly destroying what remains of a "functioning democracy" in this country.
The meaning of an ex-U.S. President’s astonishing statement is clear. For the Executive’s threat is not only to "privacy" or "civil liberties" but the very structure of democracy itself. As Wyden and Udall have demonstrated, the Executive Branch has unilaterally seized power since 9/11, behind a curtain of secrecy, in a way that has destroyed our constitutional system of legislative and judicial "checks and balances" on its power.
This threat has been ignored by many because it so counters our childhood beliefs that our government fights for democracy against foreign enemies. But the evidence clearly indicates that it is the U.S. Executive Branch, not foreigners, which is today U.S. democracy’s main enemy. And it also clear that saving our liberties will require a new pro-democracy mass movement as unprecedented as the Executive's post-9/11 power grab.
It is our own Executive Branch, after all, not a foreign enemy which has unilaterally and illegally stored our phone calls and emails without even informing us let alone obtaining the constitutionally-required "