'Is This the Country We Want to Keep?': Whistleblower Threatened with 35 Years in Prison, Warns of Developing Tyranny
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I used to monitor East Germany when I flew in RC-135s during the latter part of the Cold War—an absolutely fascist state. Given what I have experienced over the past number of years, I have a lot of bad memories.
Or how about habeas corpus, gutted on October 14 of this year when Janice Rogers Brown of the Appeals Court for the District of Columbia held that in habeas suits—for all the lawyers, at both the table and in audience, this should really ring with disturbing alarm—judges must grant official government records the presumption of regularity, defined as simply accepting that an official act has been done and that it will be presumed until the contrary is proved, that the said act complied with any necessary formalities and the person who did it was duly appointed. With such a massively expanded ability by the government to spy on your personal life, we might as well bid adieu to the Fourth Amendment, the foundation of a citizen's integrity as an individual person and in their personal affects in this country, as well as your ability to speak and associate freely with others under the Fourth Amendment. Have we become the proverbial boiling frogs?
What country do we want to keep?
Consider the conviction, as I summarized now for you, held by this country's founding fathers, that a functioning constitutional republic and democracy requires what? An informed citizenry. So what happens in the case of an uninformed citizenry? The experiment—the experiment in government by the people is doomed to failure and would inevitably transform into what we increasingly see today. Is this the day of [incompr.] Is our exceptionalism an excuse to end-run the very foundational precepts of this republic and violate certain [incompr.] that must never ever be transgressed, like torture is never—. I went through all those things you hear about in terms of enhanced interrogation techniques. I went through that as an air crew member during the Cold War, just to know what it was like. Imagine my horror when I read and heard from others what we did—used it for. Torture is never an acceptable human value under any circumstances. And eroding away the First and Fourth Amendments removes the very heart of the experiment's exceptionalism. Machiavelli had it right, and as the old song goes, something's got to give.
What else are we willing to give up? I gave up a lot. I have a lot to deal with in facing what I faced with the government for the past four years.
Are we becoming the national security state under surveillance always, the N.S.S.U.S.A.? Is secret government the new fig leaf for a quaint and outmoded Constitution? Orwell's 1984 is real, and now already, I repeat, already screamingly relevant. Only the government can create a police state. No one else can. And our technology can now make that happen. There is a long list, a long list of both private industry and government actions that are ripping away our privacy and our Fourth Amendment rights as we speak and our ability to speak freely about it. I challenge you, I challenge you all to demand accountability, to update our protections in the internet age, to insist upon adherence to the Constitution, conservative and liberal and independent like. Even in the open press we know enough about what both the industry and government are doing.
Do you care? What will you do about it? What country do we want to keep?
Do we want to continue to have a burgeoning military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-surveillance-cybersecurity-media complex? For whom does it benefit? Do we want to concede the eroding of basic human rights? Why? Because we fear enemies and that creates a need for security, and are then persuaded that human rights are ignored because of the primacy of the national security state beyond legitimate protections and identifying those who would actually do us harm, both abroad and domestically, as a unifying cause for obsessing over national security and the use of fear by the government to control the public and private agenda? What country do we really want to keep?