Is Congress aiding and abetting the creation of a police state? Recently, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., helped to give the CIA and NSA unprecedented police powers. By inserting a provision in the FY07 Intelligence Authorization Act, Hoekstra has undermined the existing statutory limits on involvement in domestic law enforcement. This comes after revelations in January of direct NSA involvement with the Baltimore police in order to "protect" the NSA Headquarters from Quaker protesters.
Add to this, the disquieting news that the White House has been barraging the CIA with totally improper questions about the political affiliation of some of its senior intelligence officers, the ever widening use of polygraph examinations, and the FBI's admission that it acquires phone records of broadcast and print media to investigate leaks at the CIA. I, for one, am reminded of my service in the police state of the U.S.S.R., where there were no First or Fourth Amendments.
Like the proverbial frog in slowly boiling water, we have become inured to what goes on in the name of national security. Recent disclosures about increased government surveillance and illegal activities would be shocking, were it not for the prevailing outrage-fatigue brought on by a long train of abuses. But the heads of the civilian, democratically elected institutions that are supposed to be our bulwark against an encroaching police state, the ones who stand to lose their own power as well as their rights and the rights of all citizens, aren't interested in reining in the power of the intelligence establishment. To the contrary, Rep. Hoekstra and his counterpart at the Senate, Pat Roberts, R.-Kan., are running the risk of whiplash as they pivot to look the other way.
When the writers of the Constitution envisioned a separation of powers to ensure checks and balances in our government, they were relying on the leaders of those branches to fight to maintain their own power within the system. Fresh from the struggle against King George, they could not have predicted that some of our leaders would voluntarily sign away their own rights to another George who would be king.
Good article. Go read.