One of the most concerning things about recent revelations about the extent of our surveillance state is that nothing revealed was illegal. What is more, to the deciders, this apparently wasn’t all that controversial.
I mentioned this Monday, but it bears repeating. By design, the founding fathers pit ambition against ambition, creating an adversarial system where power is divided. Yet despite this power and responsibility, the other players have served as a rubber stamp for the White House.
Let’s discuss some of these checks and balances. Obviously, we have three co-equal branches of government — and differing layers of government, too. We also have opposing political parties, who ostensibly have a vested interest in keeping each other in check. And if that all fails, we have elections where the public can voice its displeasure. We also have a media — which is charged with keeping the public informed so that they can make their voices heard on Election Day.
In every instance, save for very recent media reports, the system has failed us. It’s hard to blame the voters. They voted for Barack Obama based on the quixotic notion that he would bring “hope and change.” They re-elected him not knowing about the NSA or IRS or AP scandals, etc.
It was a bait and switch.
Yet the administration has the chutzpah to continue telling us the ballot box serves as a form of oversight. Let’s look at this video from yesterday’s White House press briefing:
As Press Secretary Jay Carney points out, “the people’s representatives are elected…to represent them on some of these matters…to represent them on issues that are classified.”
He was talking about Congressional representatives, but the same holds true for the president. In fact, the public probably looks to the president for this sort of leadership more than their local Congressman.
One could argue that the American public elected Obama as a sort of check on this type of overreach. Speaking of Bush, Obama in 2007 said, “This Administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not.”
Clearly, the ballot box failed as a check on the surveillance state.