The NSA snooping mess isn’t enough to get Team Red and Team Blue to quit fighting each other. They remind me of rival gangs fighting for control of a sinking ship rather than working to keep the ship from sinking.
You might have thought this would be a non-partisan scandal. After all, the policy that the NSA is pursuing is clearly the same one that the government pursued under George W. Bush. Both administrations have pushed the boundaries of what it can do to snoop on people — in the name of security, of course.
But instead of acknowledging that we’re dealing with a crisis over a government that’s out of control in violating the rights of Americans, many politicians are more concerned with supporting their team than in dealing with the fundamental issues.
U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) is a perfect example. McCaul is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and he doesn’t see a problem with the government collecting this information. He told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” Sunday that he just doesn’t trust Team Blue with the information.
“The optics are terrible in this case when you consider the recent scandals,” McCaul said. “You have to ask yourself this question: Can you trust this administration with your phone records?”
That makes it clear what his issue with the snooping is — not whether government having your records is acceptable, but just whether the Obama administration can be trusted. He made that clear by saying the the newly revealed surveillance programs are “lawful” and helpful in fighting terrorists.
So if there’s no problem with the program and it’s perfectly legitimate for the federal government to be snooping in the records of millions of Americans who aren’t even suspected of crimes, which side is he on? How can this man find the hutzpah to defend the program, but attack the man who’s behind the “lawful” program?
There’s a lot I could say about the whole issue of the PRISM program and the wide net cast in grabbing the Verizon records, but most of it has already been said by others. If you didn’t assume these sorts of things were going on, that seems naive to me. And if you did assume these sorts of things were going on, how much more can we say about why it’s wrong to allow government spooks to have unfettered access to your digital life.
I only want to point to the hypocrisy of people such as the conservative Republican McCaul and his counterparts on the progressive left.
Both sides of the mainstream are disgustingly hypocritical when it comes to this issue. Many Republicans who were supporters of any kind of surveillance that the Bush administration did then are screaming in protest now. Why? Because it’s the Obama administration doing it, of course.
And if this same scandal had happened during the Bush administration, Democrats would have been demonstrating in front of the White House, but they’re pretty quiet right now. The people who were willing to do anything to fight for their sacred civil rights when they were threatened by a Republican administration have mostly gone silent now that it’s a Democratic administration doing it.
Some people are intellectually consistent and principled, but I find that most are very hypocritical. People are very good at finding a way to say, “Well, that’s different,” when it’s the guy from their party who’s doing something that they would protest if it were done by the other party.
The problem isn’t Team Red or Team Blue. They certainly don’t trust each other, but the real question is why anyone would trust either of them. The problem is an oppressive government taking more and more power. The Republicans and Democrats arguing about it are like two different factions of a dictatorial ruling Establishment Party arguing over who gets to be in charge this year.
Until you accept that it’s the system at fault — not just who’s in charge of the White House — you’re going to keep being fooled about what’s really going on.