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Published: Saturday 31 August, 2013

winter coat canada goose winter coat canada goose ´╗┐Domestic spying rages unchecked in post

If thats true, then the reverence President Barack Obama and his aides hold for Americans civil liberties knows no bounds. Since his days as a young senator from Illinois, the chief executive and his various appointees have paid endless lip service to civil societys every essential right from due process to privacy and then gone behind closed doors to violate them on an epic scale.

Despite candidate Obamas promises, the Guantanamo prison camp remains open and beyond the reach of everything we recognize as due process an everdeepening stain on our st winter coat canada goose anding as a nation that respects human rights and the rule of law. The pursuit and prosecution of whistleblowers in cases of national security excess has reached unprecedented levels and now includes secret intrusions into journalists routine news gathering. American citizens have been summarily executed by missiles fired from CIA drones without ever seeing a day in court.

Now comes news through a Guardian report based on another whistleblowers revelations that the Obama administration has been collecting socalled metadata on virtually every Americans phone calls and monitoring the video, photos, emails, documents and connection logs for the users of nine major Internet service providers through a program Advertisement

called PRISM. George W. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court FISA, which rules on such matters, operates entirely behind closed doors and never publishes its rulings or proceedings, which are entirely nonadversarial and involve only representatives of the Justice Department. How rigorous is this Star Chamber review of the governments applications to spy? According to the only numbers available, the government sought surveillance warrants from the FISA court 22,990 times between 1979 and 2006. Only five were declined.

Snooping into Americans private communications turns out to be the one thing on which a bipartisan congressional majority can agree. Many lawmakers, including Californias Sen. Dianne Feinstein, claimed last week that its all about keeping America safe. Partly, its that and partly its also about avoiding blame for another 9/11.

The Bush/Cheney administration pushed through the Patriot Act with Democratic complicity because a general panic pervaded the nation in the aftermath of that tragic day in September. The measures defenders have compared it to other, necessarily extreme acts taken to ensure the national survival. Lincoln, its pointed out, suspended habeas corpus; Franklin Roosevelt allowed Nazi saboteurs to be tried in secret before military tribunals empowered to impose the death penalty; Truman and Eisenhower promoted a dramatic expansion of intelligence operations, including the CIA, to check aggressive Soviet communism.

The point lost here is that the slave states secession and rebellion, Hitlerian Germany and Stalinist Russia all posed an existential threat to the United States very survival. At the height of its activities alQaida and its theocratic fellow travelers never posed such a threat. As 9/11 showed, they had the ability to inflict hideous and tragic hurt, but never a mortal wound to the nation. The Patriot Act is, in nearly every sense, a disproportionate response to the real threat.

Yet, out of panic and a resolute desire to avoid blame or criticism for being soft the Obama administration has continued the dramatic expansion of the national security state begun by its predecessor and most of it outside the scope of public scrutiny or debate. This buildup of intelligence activities has been so robust and rapid that the government increasingly relies on private contractors to conduct such activities. This weeks whistle blower is a 29yearold high school dropout, who worked as a computer security administrator for the CIA and National Security Agency under contracts with the private firm of Booz Allen Hamilton.

How large has our bloated national security apparatus become? A staggering 1.2 million government employees now hold top secret clearances and more than a third of them 38 percent are private contractors. In 2001, NSA employed 140 private contractors; by 2006, the number had risen to 6,000. National security has become not only a Washington obsession, but also a wildly lucrative industry with the usual array of lobbyists and congressional connections to protect and expand the business.

Its an industry that, as Peter Singer, director of Brookings Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, told the Wall Street Journal last week, goes well beyond the scope of anything the public is aware of or even imagines.

It is in the nature of the executive branch to arrogate power to itself. There is, moreover, nothing inherently wrong with big government so long as it is transparent and strictly accountable. I winter coat canada goose t is absurd, however, to pretend that government of a sufficient scale can solve great problems, but not inflict great harm without appropriate checks. The metastasized national security state is neither transparent nor accountable because it is secret.

Even if one assumes for the sake of argument that the motives of this president and his lieutenants are entirely angelic and disinterested, the time will come when the Oval Office is occupied by ordinary men or even venal and selfinterested ones and then the secret power now being exercised from there inevitably will be misused against us all.

< winter coat canada goose br />In an interview last week, Edward Snowden the computer security contractor who revealed the surveillance programs existence said he gave up a comfortable sixfigure job with the NSA for a fugitives existence because he no longer wished to help construct an architecture of oppression.

Without privacy and a respect for the basic human right to be left alone there is no civilization worthy of the name, but only the utilitarian life of the anthill. I, for one, have no desire to be that safe. winter coat canada goose