This essay ( Quit Throwing 9/11 In Our Faces ) is quite something.
Like me, Alex Marthews prefers not to drop the f-bomb …but there are times that try men's souls, and our ongoing slide into an actual honest-to-God yes-it-can-happen-here police state is one of them, and it's pushed both of us into it recently.
What's got Alex's blood up today?
The facts that
(a) the NSA had all the intel it needed to prevent 9/11, as revealed in this open letter to the president from "Former NSA Senior Executives/Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)",
The sadder reality, Mr. President, is that NSA itself had enough information to prevent 9/11, but chose to sit on it rather than share it with the FBI or CIA. We know; we were there. We were witness to the many bureaucratic indignities that made NSA at least as culpable for pre-9/11 failures as are other U.S. intelligence agencies.
(b) in response to its failure, the NSA and other intelligence agencies have not done honest soul-searching but have instead engaged in coverups and a concerted push to increase the collection of data on US citizens, even though they have no ability to deal with that data and there is no argument that this increased domestic spying will help protect the people.
Here's Alex's rage money-shot, and as a fellow defender of liberty who – more and more – alternates between near tears and near screaming over how the corpse of our Republic is being raped, I applaud it:
I am fucking pissed off. What a fuckup. What a gargantuan, despicable, offensive fuckup.
These clowns gleefully threw the Constitution on the fire, and gave us NOTHING in return. We’re not safer. We’re certainly not richer. We have lost so much, so that a few people could become extremely rich and powerful, and our corrupt system is now incapable of holding them personally to account. Yet still they yammer on, clamoring for more funding for an NSA that doesn’t work, a TSA that doesn’t work, an FBI that chases imaginary plots instead of focusing on locking up actual criminals. They have played on our fears to make us exchange realistic risk assessment for a meaningless, nightmarish pantomime where we, the American people and indeed the people of the whole world, have to accept the loss of every freedom we hold dear in order to “do whatever it takes” to “catch the bad guys.”
I’m sick of it. Aren’t you sick of it? I am goddamn heart-sick of it.
I really hate to use the phrase "police state" (as I did above), because it makes one sound like a silly 19 year old who is upset that mom and dad wouldn't let him borrow the station wagon to get to the mall, and furthermore that when he got to the mall anyway, the fascist thugs at the CD store kept following him around as if he was a shoplifter.
The thing is, though, we are drifting into a police state. Or, rather, we've already crossed the boundary and we're drifting deeper and deeper into the funnel. This is a tragedy that's hard to explain (or, at least, requires more skill than I have at my command this morning). There's
a great deal of ruin in a nation, Adam Smith once famously said, but when we're spending $52.6 billion per year in
the black budget (that's $100,000 per minute) to wiretap on the citizenry, develop zero day exploits to give the government the ability to take over our infrastructure, launch spy satellites, and more, the a huge amount of ruin can happen at a speed far faster than Adam Smith ever imagined.
Again, I apologize for what sounds like melodrama, but we are destroying our Republic and our individual freedoms at an astounding rate. Like clear cutting and burning rain-forests, we are reducing to ash in years and months a tradition that took centuries to build.
It's far far easier to destroy a culture than it is to bring it back. Cultures, like rain-forests and cathedrals, grow slowly, and take centuries to mature and ripen…and yet can be smashed in a historical eye-blink. The problem isn't merely that the government is spying today; the problem is that we are teaching ourselves, our bureaucrats – and worst of all, our children – that this is acceptable, that the people exist to serve the State, that a prudent government keeps track of all of its citizens in the same way that a prudent farmer puts ear-tags on all of his cattle.
Most days I frankly don't think it's possible to stop our slide into soft (if we're lucky) fascism. Today is one of those days….or maybe, just maybe it's not. I've got just a touch of optimism in my soul this morning.
Either way, we've got to try to prevent the police state from solidifying its grip, damn it.
No matter what, blood is going to be spilled, money is going to be wasted, and rights are going to be violated.
…but if we fight now, the blood will be that of a few hundred peaceful protesters cheerfully allowing themselves to be clubbed by riot police, the money that is going to be wasted is going to be kickstarted legal defense funds, and the rights are going to be those of modern-day Rosa Parks who allow themselves to be arrested so that the populace is confronted with the brutality of the system.
If we don't fight now, though, the national-security-police-state will win, and it will be our children, or our children's children, who will have to fight. And their fight might look a lot less like the American Civil Rights movement and a lot more like some goddamned bloody unwinable mess like the Syrian Civil War, or the horrific Khmer Rouge paroxysms.
My next post should be "How Do We Fight?"
The problem is, I don't know.
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