Friday, November 1, 2013

Secrets have Weight

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"Secrets have weight." It's a line from a TV show I flashed by on the way to the final world series game that the Red Sox won. That thought has stayed with me, for lots of reasons, personal, political, and cosmic. 

I think of secrets I have kept, usually to no good purpose.  I think of secrets others have had, ranging from silly rumors to blindsiding kinds of secrets, relentless, hateful.  Dirty little secrets, dirty little lies, like in the John Mellencamp song "Dirty Laundry."  I think what goes round, comes round.

On the political front, I think about our NSA cyper surveillance crisis and Obama's role in it. What does he know and how long has he known it?

It's a Catch 22 in any case.  If he knew about it, the unlimited scope of it, approved and condoned it, it's outrageous, possibly illegal.  If he didn't know about it, it's outrageous. 

Secrets have weight.  Either he approved the NSA cyper spying that includes spying on allies and millions of personal phone calls in cahoots with giant communication companies, or he didn't know because NSA is running its own out-of-bounds spy operations, a secret government doing its own thing, without a transparent chain of command, without oversight or accountability.  No doubt America has superior capability in electronic spying.  Some of it might be necessary, although a definition here, some criteria, some legal parameters that were public knowledge, would be helpful, and are warranted. It's the excess that worries.

Secrets have weight.  While we were tapping German president Merkel's private phone, her calls and texts, and those of other close allies, the Ambasador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was killed in Benghazi in a secret terrorists attack on the US Embassy. Three other Embassy workers were also killed.  Where was the "surveillance" on this?  I don't want to jump on any political bandwagon here, but do we know all we need to know?  The juxtaposition is tragic.

On the cosmic front, I think of those more than 350 drone attacks in northwestern Pakistan. Cosmic because it involves the deaths of innocent victims.  I'm wondering about Obama's love of drones and the bombing of little villages like Warikistan, where terrorists are said to hang out.  How many terrorists have we gotten for all these secret attacks? We don't know.  We don't know much if anything about this secret little war. But we are now learning that hundreds of civilians have been killed, and that the attacks are probably creating a whole new cadre of terrorists who hate America and want revenge.   Does this kind of secret war make sense?

Secrets have weight, and these secrets are boding ill for Obama's contemporary role in peace-making and his place in history. They are contravening his goals and his promises. They are weighing him down.  We had hoped for so much more in his second term.    
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