OK

may stretch the limits of fair use, but I will risk it, because they are so powerful.

They are from his Washington Post column, titled today We can handle the truth on NSA spying/.

He begins with these two:  

I don’t believe government officials when they say the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance programs do not invade our privacy. The record suggests that you shouldn’t believe them, either.

It pains me to sound like some Rand Paul acolyte. I promise I’m not wearing a tinfoil hat or scanning the leaden sky for black helicopters. I just wish our government would start treating us like adults — more important, like participants in a democracy — and stop lying. We can handle the truth.

And yes, that last sentence is a reference to the words of Col. Nathan Jessup in "A Few Good Men."

Perhaps I have been around DC too long, and been an observer of politics and government for even longer, 31 and 59 years respectively (my observations begin with the Army-MCCarthy hearings in 1954), but I do not believe what we are being told, and can readily recognize spin when it is offered, even if I cannot penetrate it.

Then there are Robinson's final two paragraphs, which I will also offer before embarking on a few of my own comments below the squiggle:

I accept that the administration officials, Justice Department lawyers, federal judges, FBI agents and NSA analysts involved in the phone surveillance and other programs are acting in good faith. The same is true of members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, who are supposed to be providing oversight. But honorable intentions are not enough — especially when we know that much of what these honorable officials have told us is false.

The biggest lie of all? That the American people don’t even deserve to be told what their laws mean, much less how those laws are being used.

Let me start by saying that I do not necessarily believe that all those named are acting in good faith.  Sorry, but there are some, especially in the intelligence community, who believe that their mission is more important than properly informing people, including others among those named who are responsible for overseeing what they are doing.  And I certainly do not believe that people in the last administration responsible for the great expansion of surveillance believe in democracy except as providing cover for what they intended to do, with or without the veneer of authorization.  That was clear with Poindexter's proposal for Total Information Awareness, which when banned by the Congress was accomplished by simply obtaining the same information from the commercial sector.

Whether or not the intentions of all are "honorable" begs the question - after all, if I may quote the words Shakespeare puts in the mouth of Mark Antony, "But Brutus and Cassius are honorable men."   By the end of that speech, those words no longer are an encomium but more of a curse.  Even if we grant that many involved in these efforts honestly believed that this secrecy was the only way to accomplish the goal of protection of the American people, that is insufficient justification.

Here perhaps it is my age, but I think of the exchanges between Robert Redford as Joe Turner and Cliff Robertson as J. Higgins, director of the NY office of the CIA, at the end of "Three Days of the Condor" -

Higgins is attempting to justify the actions of the CIA:

Higgins:  Today it's oil, right?
In     or     years-- food, plutonium, and maybe even sooner.
What doyou think the people are going to want us to do then?

Turner:  Ask them.

Now note Higgins response:

Now now. Then. Ask them when they're running out.

Ask them when there's no heat and they're cold.

Ask them when their engines stop.                

Ask them when people who have never known hunger start going hungry.

Want to know something?

They won't want us to ask them.

They'll want us to get it for them.

Democracy cannot function, and we will be a republic in name only if we accept the kind of justification being offered by Higgins, which to my mind is the same rationale being offered by those Robinson says are "acting in good faith."  Even if they are.

Here's what scares me - continuing in that scene, which is filmed outside the building of The New York Times, Turner make clear that he has told the details to the paper.  He has, in a sense, acted as did Manning or Snowden, or other whistle blowers in both the CIA and the NSA in the past.   Higgins is shocked, telling Turner "You've done more damage than you know to which Turner responds I hope so.

After Higgins tells Turner "You're about to be a very lonely man" (sound like Manning or Snowden?) we have this exchange:

Higgins: Hey, Turner.

How do you know they'll print it?

You can take a walk, but how far if they don't print it?

Turner: They'll print it.            

Higgins: How do you know?

How do we know?  We know that James Risen had a good chunk of the early parts of this story before the 2004 election, but the Times accepted the cautions of the Bush administration and did not print the story then.  Does anyone reading this doubt that there probably would have been a different result of that election had the story been printed?  At a minimum, would not we have had the debate of what the people want.  Are not Turner's words correct, that the people need to be asked?

Or is a government entitled to do what those in control either of the entire government or of parts of it - the military-intelligence-industrial complex part - think needs to be done, without reference to or authorization by the people who are in theory sovereign in our system of government?

We ARE being fed lies -  and not just by Director of National Intelligence Clapper in his testimony to Congress.  We have Senators who know SOME details who are making it clear that we are being lied to, but who cannot tell us how without violating their own confidentiality agreements and the rules of the Senate.

So perhaps the important parts of Robinson's column are not where he recounts a lot of the history, including of the shenanigans of the likes of Clapper, or broad outlines of what is being done, or of the near blank check being written by the FISA Court, or of the fact that the legal interpretations being used are themselves secret so we do not even know on what basis these decisions are being made.  

It is those words at the beginning:  

I don’t believe government officials when they say the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance programs do not invade our privacy. The record suggests that you shouldn’t believe them, either.

and at the end:

The biggest lie of all? That the American people don’t even deserve to be told what their laws mean, much less how those laws are being used.

This may be the last chance we have to rein in these kinds of actions.

We tried with the investigations by Frank Church and Otis Pike.

Do we have ANYONE in leadership in the Congress who is willing to act on our behalf?

Do we have media organizations that are willing to live up to their responsibilities under the First Amendment to inform the American people?

I wonder. . . .

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