Peggy Noonan can occasionally connect the hammer head and the nail with great efficacy. Her latest OpEd on the inherent dangers of a nearly omnipotent NSA (“A Nation of Sullen Paranoids”), accomplishes that in spades:
“If the citizens of the United States don’t put up a halting hand, the government can’t be expected to. It is in the nature of security professionals to always want more, and since their mission is worthy they’re less likely to have constitutional qualms, to dwell on such abstractions as abuse of the Fourth Amendment and the impact of that abuse on the First.
If you assume all the information that can and will be gleaned will be confined to NSA and national security purposes, you are not sufficiently imaginative or informed. If you believe the information will never be used wrongly or recklessly, you are touchingly innocent.”
One does not need to be a clairvoyant to know that eventually (if in fact it hasn’t already happened) the data collected will be used to retrofit criminal charges, or release private information that will destroy political or ideological enemies of the state.
It isn’t paranoia to imagine the reality of Cuban-like peligrosidad predelectiva laws (pre-criminal dangerousness) being run as practice, if not laws, by an increasingly untrustworthy State security machine. It isn’t paranoia to question the dangers of giving away our liberties to a State seeking power so that it can properly “protect us” from people who are seeking power in order to destroy our liberties.
In the eyes of this increasingly Fascist government, we may not have the right to not be investigated in order to ascertain that we don’t pose a threat to the government, and if anything we say can be used against us in a Court of law, then certainly anything we have said may be used to bring us to that Court.
In Cuba, peligrosidad predelectiva laws has citizens “warning” government security forces of “anti-revolutionary” activity by other citizens, with the definition of activity being expanded to include the expression of ideas deemed contrary to the governing philosophies of the Castro-led Party. These warnings lead to investigations, detentions, interrogations and incarcerations.
The NSA’s data collection ability can streamline the investigatory aspect of the accusations by an unimaginable factor.
It isn’t paranoia to think this.
It is fear of the government, and when fear of the government is prevalent in a society, there is tyranny.