June 11, 2013
President Obama, taking a smart political tack in the uproar following several explosive disclosures on NSA domestic spying practices, said he was all in favor of a vigorous public debate—that it would be a “healthy” thing. But calling for a public debate is one thing; actually doing anything to facilitate a truly open discussion, much less acting on what such a discussion might reveal, is quite another.
Today, the New York Times, in a news/analysis article, essentially declared that there was no hope for any kind of restraint of growing government spying on the public. Not if it is up to the people’s representatives.
The Times noted that secrecy rules will prevent robust and open discussion in Congress. It also pointed out that Republicans will mostly stay in line with their traditional allies in the intelligence services—and that Democrats will too, both because they will want to show they did the right thing in voting to authorize the Patriot Act and other relevant legislation, and because during this round, the leader is Obama, a Democrat.
But that’s just the beginning of the difficulties in the way of achieving reform of our incipient surveillance state. The Times goes on to say:
Nor is it clear that political pressure from either Congress or the public will be sufficient to prompt the administration to open the door wider on government surveillance.
When even an establishment-serving entity like the New York Times virtually concedes that there’s no hope for reform even when the vast majority might want it, this is a signal that something is deeply amiss in this society.