Thursday, July 10, 2008

Why are you okay with FISA?


I was writing my own note to you wondering why you are so indifferent to this terrible FISA bill when you are so opposed to torture, but another reader has already said much of what I would have said. Your response to that reader, however, is disappointing.

Your response sounds like it's couched from a perspective of fear, but I think you are afraid of the wrong things. Should we be doing everything we can to find and track potential threats? Yes, but within the bounds of our existing legal framework, and in a manner that does not jeopardize our civil liberties. Certainly not in a manner that undermines our founding documents.

That reader was right to hint at the possibility of these new surveillance powers being egregiously abused, and that is what you should be afraid of more than terror threats. The distance is very short between a totalitarian police state and an unchecked executive with sweeping powers of surveillance, supported by a compliant congress and an indifferent public.

You, as someone who once had to hide his true nature, I would think the prospect of someone in authority who took a disliking to you and abused that surveillance authority in order to harm you would be a more realistic threat than the possibility of you being harmed by some foreign agent with limited reach and capabilities.

But on the comparison between FISA and torture, they are both immoral on legal grounds. They both go directly against the grain of our national fiber, and our founding principles. Not only are both issues horrible on their own merits, they are completely un-American. As a veteran from a military family, someone who has sworn an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, I take this issue very seriously. From my perspective, the Constitution - and the very soul of this country - is under assault by some cravenly immoral and cowardly individuals, who use the specter of fear to usurp sweeping powers of authority. Those who would do this are the same types of people who would also abuse that power. It is incredibly sad that you don't see this.


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