I received so many comments about my opening monologue yesterday about the NSA phone call database story that I have posted the audio here for those who missed it.
I tried to bring up some points that others have missed — that this isn’t about the government’s ability to monitor the bad guys, but that it must be done legally, with the oversight of both the courts and Congress. We must have those checks and balances, and we (the people) must have our elected officials doing a better job of representing us, the taxpayers and citizens of this great nation. Having one branch merely “brief” the other is no different than the relationship of parent and child, as in when I “brief” my daughter about where we’re going to have dinner and when she’s going to bed. She has no real input into that, just as Congress and the courts have had no input into the unilateral actions of the executive branch.
This should not be about politics. Those who make this only about the Bush administration are forgetting that, in 1999, the Clinton administration launched the Echelon program, which was also a giant government fishing expedition that ran roughshod over our Constitutional rights. I railed against that at the time, as I did against the TIA program a few years ago. By the way, one of the people who also were uncomfortable with Echelon and wanted more details about it made public was a then-congressman from Florida named Porter Goss. Yes, the same one who was pushed out of the top CIA job last week, coincidentally just days before these new revelation about the scope of the domestic surveillance program (which we were told last year only applied to international phone calls).
Yes, the nation must be protected, but so must the Constitution and the inherent rights of Americans. Those are not mutually exclusive concepts. They are, in fact, what makes us different and better than every other nation on the planet. We don’t want to be a nation whose leaders can decide to monitor the actions of its people at its own whim and cloak it in a veil of “we’re protecting you” — that’s China, that’s North Korea, that’s not the United States of America.
Lots of comments below, feel free to add yours.