We haven’t talked much directly here about the ongoing NSA/FISA and related scandals in the news. After all, one could say, it’s not directly about drug policy. And yet, it seems pretty obvious to me which “side” the vast majority of my readers is likely to find themselves.
This article helps to articulate it. NSA scandal separates liberty lovers from poseurs
Most Americans who pay any attention to politics believe the nation’s great chasm is between “Red State” Republicans and “Blue State” Democrats. While the nation’s two major parties have their differences, the real divide is and always has been between those who reflexively trust the authorities and those who recognize that their own government poses the gravest threat to their liberties.
The latest scandal, in which a whistleblower revealed two National Security Agency programs that gather the phone and computer records of Americans in a fishing expedition designed to find links to terrorists, has jump-started this debate. As the Associated Press reported, this has “reinvigorated an odd-couple political alliance of the far left and right. A number of Democratic civil liberties activists, along with libertarian-leaning Republicans, say the government actions are too broad and don’t adequately protect citizens’ privacy.”
And that’s correct. Drug policy reform has a lot less to do with red vs. green than between authoritarians and those who value liberty.
For those who have seen the destruction of the drug war, who could possibly trust the government to be responsible with our communications while operating in total secrecy? Being concerned with these revelations is a no-brainer.
The real disturbing part of the story is the large number of sheep who are willing to give up their freedom for some vaguely imagined undefined benefit, and who strangely trust government officials to not abuse power.
Finally, I’m a huge fan of the incredible journalistic work done by Glenn Greenwald, who has always been more concerned with performing critically important government watchdog functions than propping up some political party. There are a lot of people in power trying hard to tear him down right now. I hope he gets through this unscathed.
Update: See also Diane Goldstein on this topic. The Surveillance State: How The War On Drugs And The War On Terror Go Hand In Hand