Exclusive: U.S. government officials insist that their secret surveillance techniques are so valuable in fighting “terrorism” that they must be kept completely in the dark – along with the American people. This alleged imperative has justified even lying to Congress, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern observes.
U.S. government officials (and many mainstream pundits) assure Americans that there’s nothing to fear from the electronic surveillance aimed at “terrorists,” but some intelligence experts say the new techniques could ultimately intimidate people from participating in democracy, as author Christopher Simpson tells Dennis J Bernstein.
It is true, as President Obama says, that you can’t have 100% security and 100% privacy, but it’s also true that you can never have 100% security – and seeking it often makes you less secure by creating more enemies. Any debate on this must include the imperfect process called “conflict transformation,” says Patrick T. Hiller.
After 9/11, the principal “liberty” that many Americans seemed to prize most was the “freedom” to go to the shopping mall without having to fear “terrorists.” That attitude gave impetus to the construction of a police-state framework that could crush all the other liberties and freedoms, Daniel Ellsberg warns.
Americans tend to swing back and forth on the question of security v. privacy, depending on the latest big story. After the Boston Marathon bombings, there was anger over too little FBI prevention; after disclosures of massive data collection, there’s fury over too much intrusion – a dilemma examined by ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Exclusive: Edward Snowden, the person who disclosed top-secret documents on the U.S. government’s massive surveillance programs, is reportedly in Hong Kong and seeking asylum from countries that value openness and freedom, conditions seen as slipping away at home, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern notes.
Exclusive: Americans are finally waking up to what George W. Bush created with his “war on terror” – and what Barack Obama has continued – a national security state that violates privacy and dispatches “special ops” teams or lethal drones to roam the world killing “terrorists,” a topic addressed by “Dirty Wars” and Lisa Pease.
Because democracy is dependent on an informed electorate, political control in advanced societies like the United States has focused on selective dissemination of information and ideological spin. A whistleblower like Pvt. Bradley Manning disrupts that process, says Norman Solomon.
Exclusive: The trial of Pvt. Bradley Manning for leaking classified documents is a test of values in the American Republic. The case pits a democracy’s need for knowledge against the government’s insistence on secrecy, a moral balancing act assessed by religious ethicist Daniel C. Maguire.
President Obama has promised to put tighter restrictions on his use of lethal drones in U.S. counterterrorism attacks, but even if he follows through, there’s no guarantee that some future president won’t cite the precedents of the past decade to expand the operations again, writes Independent Institute’s Ivan Eland.