NSA Scandal: Why We Get the Police State We Deserve. And What We Can Do to Fix That.


I've got a new column up at The Daily Beast about how Democrats and Republicans can both love Big Brother if he's got the right party affiliation. Snippets:

In the first flush of stories about how the National Security Agency is surveilling American citizens, one stomach-turning revelation hasn't gotten the attention it deserves: We get the surveillance state we deserve because rank political partisanship trumps bedrock principle every goddamn time on just about every goddamn issue….

As my colleague Mike Riggs pointed out yesterday, GOP and Dem attitudes toward NSA-style surveillance change depending on who's running the government.

After cataloguing the extent of partisanship's role in debates over civil liberties, I conclude that

the only place from where actual relief from an ever-bigger, ever-more-intrusive surveillance state is going to come: Oddball, ad hoc coalitions formed not by party apparatchiks but by rogue elements that somehow sneak into power and are buoyed by the plurality of Americans who refuse to be cowed by party politics.  It is characters such as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), and Jason Chaffetz (R-Colo Utah) who are lobbying for more government transparency, accountability, and restraint.

This crew has virtually nothing in common other than an inspiring streak of ideological independence that mirrors the plurality of American voters. (Paul, who has co-sponsored legislation with Wyden, did not even thank the Republican Party on Election Night in 2012, choosing instead to thank the "Tea Party"). They will doubtless find themselves on different sides of the barricades when it comes to questions of taxes, regulation, and spending. But it is impossible to imagine any of them shifting their positions on ubiquitous surveillance of Americans or kill lists or torture simply based on which party controls the White House or Congress. Which, sad to say, is a relief in the current political climate. And the reason their efforts deserve not just our sincere thanks but our vocal support.

Read the whole thing.

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  1. Apparently Clapper lied during a Congressional hearing a few months ago. So, was he under oath and if so, what’s Congress going to do about it? Also, would his answer have been different if the Congress Critters had been questioning him in secret?

    1. ….what’s Congress going to do about it?

      Nothing. It’s adorable that you think they would.

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    2. Oh, it gets better. James Clapper gave a response on Sunday. This is what he said:

      His latest take: It’s an unfair question, he said, like “When are you going to stop beating your wife?” And it seems to depend on the meaning of “collect.”

      “I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying ‘no,’” Clapper told NBC News on Sunday.


  2. Seriously Nick, please stop referring me to the source article where you know I will be tempted to scroll down to the comments and read something like this:

    Before Mr. Gillespie calls the U.S. a “police state”, he ought to visit true police states in Africa, China and the middle east. He just comes off sounding ignorant and partisan here.

    1. Or like this:

      Large corporations aren’t only interested in what we might be doing to hurt the state (a rather nebulous area, admittedly, but the primary concern of the feds), they’re interested in all of our daily habits and patterns. And sure, they might not threaten to throw you in a prison, but just maybe the predefined consumer life they have us living is becoming less honest and more limiting of the human spirit than a concrete and iron bar cell.

      That’s right, the “predefined consumer life” is worse than being in prison. Dearest State, please save me!

      1. The real tyranny of Amoronikkka is the horror of urban middle-class life. You’ve got Corporations doing their corporationy things. Chavez and Castro knew better.

        1. Chavez and Castro knew better. And then the Corporate backed CIA/NSA/DOD had them killed. If only Obama had been elected earlier he would have stopped this from happening.

          However, Obama can now get to work cleaning up the corrupt corporate backed right wing government. By the start of his third term, government will be on the correct people oriented progressive track.

      2. “That’s right, the “predefined consumer life” is worse than being in prison.”

        But don’t you DARE call them Communists!

    2. A police state like China, the place our whistle blower ran to because he was scared of our government?

      1. Yeah, what an idiot.

        Let’s see: He was involved in heavily classified NSA and CIA work. If he disappears without a trace, never to be seen again, everyone will assume the CIA had him killed.

        From the Chinese Intelligence Agencies point of view, that’s a twofer, if they can manage to nab him.

  3. At least Soviet Russia and Maoist China were free from Corporations and were independent of US imperialist aggression.

    1. At least Soviet Russia and Maoist China were free from Corporations and were independent of US imperialist aggression.

      Has your mother had you tested yet?


      1. I suspect heavy Sarcasm. 😉

        1. Possible…..my sarcasameter has taken such a pounding over the past few weeks it hasn’t been working worth a shit.

          I’ll send it in for calibration.

  4. I feel freer and less scrutinized in the Third World – at least they are too broke and lazy to stick their noses in my business.

    1. North Korea is the freest and most libertarian state on earth. And it is independent of yankee aggression unlike South Korea.

      1. So, whose shiny new sockpuppet is this?

        1. It’s a parody of the Rockwellians.

        2. Not sure it’s a sock, but troll? You bet! See Guy Laguy in the other NSA thread. That is likely a sock.

    2. I can relate to that. Lived in Curacao for two years. Stuff like driving after a few beers and pot were technically illegal but no one gave a shit. Guess what? I never felt unsafe there and it wasn’t total anarchy

  5. We are forging our own chains. Some people are proud that the chains will be gold with diamond studs.

  6. The NSA is not police.

    1. “The NSA is not police.”

      OK, but what does that mean?

      1. They are not law enforcement.

    2. Not in the local cop on the beat sense of the word. It is meant in the sense of “secret police.”

      1. Since they don’t have any authority to arrest people they aren’t even secret police.

  7. It is fun to watch the neocons slovenly go all-in on their police-state fetish, exposing what a bunch of statist fucks they are for all to see.

    Much has been made of the hybridized image of Presidents Shrub and Clown thrown up on HuffPo about a week ago, but somebody needs to tart up a Feinstein/Graham collage to really put in skin-deep perspective how ugly (and alike) all totalitarians are on the inside.

    1. DiFi/Zaxby SIC joint news conference would mean more to me and my fellow Georgians, and it just might disabuse my state’s voters of believing that a simple (R) designation is enough of a selling point to win a vote.

  8. It might be a bumper sticker but when did the United States replace the word LIBERTY on our coinage with the word SECURITY? We can never be totally secure so why are we trying? The American people have largely become sheep. I have worked with sheep and I would be hard pressed to describe them as sentient creatures. The poll that says only 41% of people oppose this, and probably over half of that number is because it is Team Blue in the WH. This is depressing as hell.

    1. Well I just checked my pocket and the answer (at least on a 2013 quarter) appears to be never.

  9. If your government is keeping secrets and going through your email and cell phone, it’s time to break up.

    1. Agreed! How is this, Bruce?

      Dear Democans/Republicrats,

      We’ve had some good times together, but I’ve come to realize we want very different things.

      You are very much into control and possessiveness and me, well, I’m much more about liberty and non-coercion. I know that’s really old-fashioned attitude in your eyes, but that’s how I am. In other words, it’s not you, it’s me.

      So, while I hope we can still be friends, it’s time for each of us to spread our wings and go our separate ways. You are a wonderful semi-distinguishable party and I wish you the best of luck.


      1. How’s this:

        Dear Democrats and Republicans:

        Your pussy stinks and your breath smells like your pussy. It’s over babe.



        PS. I fucked your sister.

  10. Obama is sort of like a fusion egg roll stuffed full of big greasy wads of Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover.

    1. Obama is sort of like a fusion egg roll stuffed full of big greasy wads of Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover.

      Nahhh. When “Sugar Coated Barry O’s” says he “just learned about it (insert scandal of the day here) this morning while reading the Times” you can rest assured that this is a true statement.

      Barry does and says what he’s told and gets to live in the nice house and ride in the big plane…..plus this lifestyle choice gives him plenty of time away from Michelle.

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