I haven’t weighed in on the NSA or IRS scandals, mainly because I’ve been busy doing other things, and frankly, I don’t see the big deal about either of them. Once the Chief Executive began ordering the assassination of US citizens the gig was up, the Constitution was finally, and completely, dead, as I’ve explained before. But I stumbled across an excellent article in The Economist newsweekly that says what I’ve been thinking, but more eloquently than I ever could have, an excerpt:
However, the unstated story goes, it is equally important that American democracy not get out of hand. If you don’t want your flight to La Guardia to end in a ball of fire, or your local federal building to be razed by a cataclysm of exploding fertiliser, you will need to countenance secret courts applying in secret its own secret interpretation of hastily drawn, barely debated emergency security measures, and to persecute with the full force of the world’s dominant violent power any who dare afford a glimpse behind the veil.
You see, democracy here at home must be balanced against the requirements of security, and it is simply too dangerous to leave the question of this balance to the democratic public. Open deliberation over the appropriate balance would require saying something concrete about threats to public safety, and also about the means by which those threats might be checked. But revealing such information would only empower America’s enemies and endanger American lives. Therefore, this is a discussion Americans can’t afford to have. Therefore, the power to determine that this is a discussion the public cannot afford to have cannot reside in the democratic public. That power must reside elsewhere, with the best and brightest, with those who have surveyed the perils of the world and know what it takes to meet them. Those deep within the security apparatus, within the charmed circle, must therefore make the decision, on America’s behalf, about how much democracy—about how much discussion about the limits of democracy, even—it is safe for Americans to have.
The whole article is well worth a read. It begins by explaining exactly what it means to have a FISA Court subject to no review–that it is a shadow Supreme Court–and takes things from there to the logical conclusion that America pretends to believe in democracy for others, overtly promoting and spreading it, in name if not deed, but does not so much care for democracy at home.
It is quite a damning, and inevitable conclusion. Go read the article and see if you don’t agree.