For those of you who still have not heeded The One’s admonition to learn a language other than English, I will condescend from my multi-lingual enlightenment and translate the post title for you mono-lingual knuckle-draggers. The phrase comes from the medieval Latin and is roughly translated to “Who watches the Watchmen?”

Someplace in Hong Kong, there’s a 29 year old punk who has made international headlines with an allegedly revelatory scandal claiming that the United States Government has set up an enormous digital Hoover vacuum which is currently sucking up phone records for every man, woman, and child making calls in the United States. Some people are (rightly or wrongly) outraged that the government of the Land of the Free would engage in such activity.

You may be outraged at the enormous trove of electronic information absorbed by the guys and gals over at Fort Meade  – home of the National Security Agency. What you shouldn’t be is surprised.

Only the truly naïve can believe cyber-space is not a front in the Global War on Terror. Yes, Dear Reader, there is still a war going on and most of it takes place in the digital realm. This realm knows no geographical boundaries and there are few laws governing activity therein. Were the United States Government not using any and every available asset to fight this digital war, We the People would be justifiably irate with said government because government’s first role is to protect its people.

There are those who get their unmentionables in a Gordian knot when they think about this kind of thing. Some years ago I commented on Naomi Wolf’s “Hot Molten Crazy” Huff Po meltdown. I haven’t heard much from her since. I assume she’s coated  the inside of her apartment with tin foil to keep the government mind control rays at bay.

The bottom line here is the majority of Americans live very boring lives and the NSA doesn’t have the time, interest, or inclination to dig through your emails to your Aunt Ethel asking her for the secret family fruitcake recipe.

Perhaps I am in the minority, but I want my government to be good at spying. I echo the declaration of the great American philosopher Dennis Miller when he admonished then DHS Secretary Tom Ridge:

Look, Tommy, I don’t care if you’re gonna spy on me, but if you do, just do a good job. I don’t want to hear you breathing on the other end of the phone!

The problem we as a country face now is we no longer trust the watchers of the Watchmen. The Obama Administration has become over run with ideologically driven bureaucrats who feel duty bound to enact in policy what they hear their President declare from the Bully Pulpit. If you can find me a more palatable reason behind the IRS “conservative group” targeting scandal I’d really like to hear it. The same can be said for PFC Bradley Manning and Wikileaks and the Edward Snowden and the current NSA debacle.

Say what you want about the W Administration’s failings but I dare you to find an example where the full force of the United States Government was brought to bear on private citizens in a manner similar to that employed by the IRS and other executive branch agencies against organizations and people whose politics are opposed to the sitting President.

I believe President Obama’s lasting legacy will not be one of fundamental transformation. It will be something far less illustrious. Obama has taken a country whose distrust of government was already encoded in its DNA and exacerbated it to the point that few people with trust government to fulfill its fundamental mission to protect its citizenry.

There is an old adage that political process is much like that of making hot dogs. You never really want to see either process in its entirety. The same can be said for the process of gathering, analyzing, and exploiting intelligence data and information. You really don’t want to know how it’s gathered or where it came from. You only want to know those who engage in it have the best interests of the country at heart and will use that information to defend the country and kill bad guys. The Obama Administration, by its willingness to exploit private information for political gain has given Americans reason to distrust those charged with watching the Watchmen.

That, Dear Reader, is a consequence for which We the People will pay a hefty toll for a very long time.

Here endeth the lesson.

Comments