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View Diary: Updated: Why Is The NSA Spying On The European Union? (141 comments)

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  •  Because they can? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WellstoneDem, rlochow, greengemini

    Seriously, I think a lot of this is because they can and they think it's a cool accomplishment.  The surveillance apparatus is so large and hermetic that at some point, long since past, it does things just because they're surveillance.  The impulse isn't exactly ideological, it's institutional.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 11:17:49 AM PDT

    •  Exactly (5+ / 0-)

      The NYRB recently published a great review of the book Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power  

      It gets to this very point in the context of the Cold War FBI.

      But what happens to a professional anti-Communist when, on the home front anyway, there are almost no more Communists?
      The answer is the institution finds a new threat to go after to justify its continued existence and ever greater power. In the period under examination in the book, it was student and civil rights activists.

      The review ends by looking at how the lessons of that era should inform our actions today:

      Even at its worst, the FBI was far less draconian than dozens of secret police forces active around the world then and today....Naturally, it’s all in the name of stopping terrorism, but the misuse of intelligence-gathering for political purposes, from Ralph Van Deman and the Palmer Raids to J. Edgar Hoover and his meddling with a university board of regents, should make us aware that such things can happen again. The combination of electronic data collection, a vague and nebulous foreign threat, and tens of billions of dollars pouring into “homeland security” each year is a toxic mix, ripe for new demagogues. Subversives is a timely warning. That essay question on the 1959 University of California entrance exam [“What are the dangers to a democracy of a national police organization, like the FBI, which operates secretly and is unresponsive to criticism?”] is one we must never stop asking.

      "Politics is what we do, politics is what we create, by what we work for, by what we hope for and what we dare to imagine." -Paul Wellstone

      by WellstoneDem on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 11:39:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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