|Paul Krugman affirms what seems obvious to many Americans—that their government has become an authoritarian police state.|
"[T]here are different kinds of surveillance states. You can have a democratic surveillance state, which collects as little data as possible, and then tells you as much as possible about what it is doing. Or you can have an authoritarian surveillance state, which collects as much as possible, and tells the public as little as possible, and we are kind of on the authoritarian side."Another guest on This Week, Greta Van Susteren, a Fox News host, gave an explicit example of why White House and Congressional assurances to the American people about widespread domestic spying programs were questionable. She noted that the FISA court, which is supposed to be a review step to insure the government is not ignoring civil liberties in its quest for terror-related data, is basically nothing but a rubber-stamping process:
"[T]here’s a 2012 letter from the NSA to Senator Harry Reid, and there are 1,789 requests in the calendar year 2012 to August 30th, 2012—1,789 requests. Out of that 1.789 requests for authorization, one was withdrawn by the government. All the other ones were granted. It’s a rubber stamp."And ABC analyst Matthew Dowd pointed out that one of the real problems with the current situation is that the Executive and Congressional branches of government are agreeing that "there is a serious erosion of civil liberties," but Dowd said their response to this is to say "trust us", and that citizens are being protected in ways the government refuses to explain in any detail.
One pertinent point about that is, for example, the manner in which the alleged good balance is being assessed. The government seems to be say that saving even one American life from a terrorist attack is worth infringing the Fourth Amendment rights of all citizens.
This is essentially the argument pushed by the Bush regime, and most infamously by Texas Senator John Cornyn, in defending the Patriot Act, and who ridiculed those he called "hysterical" over the threat to civil liberties from provisions in the Act. Cornyn said, on December 19, 2005:
"None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead."The current defenders of the government's authoritarian domestic spy programs are basically making the Cornyn argument, which is to say the George W. Bush argument.