If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controuls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to controul the governed; and in the next place oblige it to controul itself. A dependence on the people is no doubt the primary controul on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
That was Federalist 51, published Feb. 6 1788. Exactly 218 years later, AG "Bind, Torture, Kill" Gonzales asked us to trust him, but gave us no reason to.
More below or at Thoughts from Kansas.
"Can you assure us that no one is being eavesdropped upon in the United States other than someone who has a communication that is emanating from foreign soil by a suspected terrorist, al-Qaida or otherwise?" Sen. Joseph Biden, a Delaware Democrat, asked at one point early in the daylong hearing.
"I can't give you absolute assurance," Gonzales replied, before adding, "What I can assure the American people is we have a number of safeguards in place so we can say with a high degree of certainty that those procedures are being followed."
..."The concern is that there is a broad sweep which includes people who have no connection with al-Qaida," [Senator Specter] said. "What assurances can you give to this committee and, beyond this committee, to milions of Americans who are vitally interested in this issue and following these proceedings?"
Said Gonzales, "The program as operated is a very narrowly tailored program, and we do have a great number of checks in place," He said later in the hearing that he was unable to give "specific information about collected, retained and disseminated" except to say that it is done so "in a way to protect privacy interests of all Americans."
The specifics matter. I won't be confident that my private conversations with Ms. TfK aren't on some NSA employee's iPod until someone explains what the safeguards are to prevent that. I don't trust Alberto Gonzales and I don't trust his boss. I'm not expected to.
The petty legalism of the Attorney General's defenses doesn't serve the nation. It serves Mr. Gonzales and it serves the President, but they are supposed to be serving us.
Our Founding Fathers explained this on this very day, 218 years ago.