Monday, July 1, 2013

In the name of National Security

AP photo by Peter Steffner. protest in Hanover, Germany, June 29,2013,
against US spying on EU, in AP article on Yahoo\ by Lara Jakes and Frank Jordans.
It's an upsetting image.  
Why isn't president Obama taking the out-of-control and out-of-bounds NSA espionage issue seriously?  I mean the breadth and scope of it.  "Everybody's doing it," he says. I understand some of this, in the post 9/11 era.  And I understand the president has a full plate now and is in Africa. But that response is not enough.

I don't condone Edward Snowden's actions, don't even like the guy, and he will get his comeuppance.  But in my view so should NSA and the whole US government-sanctioned espionage underworld.  

Who's responsible for the National Security Agency (NSA) and a massive electronic spy network riding roughshod over the rights of millions of Americans and those of other countries?  To whom is NSA accountable? Who's addressing the apparent urgent need for checks and balances, a transparent chain of command, clear boundaries of acceptable snooping and spying, the purpose and scope of spying? What about accountability and oversight in general?  

It's the Will Smith and Gene Hackman movie "Enemy of the People" again.  NSA doing it's own thing. Spying on Americans, on enemies and allies alike, even on the European Union for heaven's sake. It's the scope of the spying that's so breathtaking.  Surveillance without boundaries.

Meanwhile, we get images like the one above, taken during a protest of US spying in Germany.  It's disturbing. Our allies are furious. "Bugging on friends is unacceptable," says the German president. The countries whose human rights records we shove in their faces are taking the opportunity to do it back to us. Not a pretty picture. Watergate was bad enough; but this NSA spy business, in league with AT&T, Verizon, facebook, and other communications giants, seems even worse.   

In the name of National Security, the spying excesses are beyond the pale.  Who's in charge of doing something about it? Should there be Congressional hearings? Should there be a White House  investigation? Examination by an independent review board? Snowden's leaks are abominable, and it looks like the fallout will continue; but so is untamed, widespread, out-of-control spying.   

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