Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

June 21, 2013

Another government bombshell

News reports from the past month reveal a chasm between Americans’ perception of their freedom and their actual freedom.

To those who thought the rule of law still protected them, the IRS targeting conservative groups for special scrutiny and Justice Department monitoring journalists’ phone records should have been enough to disabuse them of that notion.

But then came news shredding any scintilla of evidence America is the land of the free with reports that the National Security Agency is monitoring every phone call made on Verizon’s network.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court signed an order on April 25, requested by the FBI, allowing the government to collect information through July 19 on a daily basis from one of the nation’s largest phone companies on seemingly everything except the content of communication.

As the Cato Institute’s Julian Sanchez told The Guardian, the British newspaper that broke the story, “We’ve certainly seen the government increasingly strain the bounds of ‘relevance’ to collect large numbers of records at once — everyone at one or two degrees of separation from a target — but vacuuming all metadata up indiscriminately would be an extraordinary repudiation of any pretense of constraint or particularized suspicion.”

Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who wrote the story, should consider himself permanently wiretapped. He should also expect that no one in the government will speak to him in the future knowing his communications are monitored. His only hope is to have a sympathetic government spy on the other side like East German Stasi agent Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler in the brilliant 2006 film, “The Lives of Others” — if he doesn’t end up in federal prison.

To think many were appalled by Congressional testimony earlier this week by John Eastman, the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, that the IRS leaked confidential tax forms of his organization to the group’s main political opponent, Human Rights Campaign. That seems so small fry in comparison to this.

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