John Stossel has gotten a lot of flak from the “liberty movement” for a recent piece he wrote for Reason in which he basically dismissed the NSA scandal as something he “can’t get that worked up about.”
In all honesty, I basically agree with him, although for different reasons.
The main reason I can’t get worked up about this is because first of all, it doesn’t surprise me in the least. This is something I already figured the government was probably doing. Having my suspicions confirmed doesn’t do much for me.
Secondly, I have to ask all the conservatives and the libertarians who are somewhat sympathetic to the state (like Stossel), what exactly they would like to see happen here. What government response to this government overreach would satisfy them?
Hypothetically, let’s just suppose that Obama’s reaction to this scandal was to immediately call a press conference in which he said the following: “I had no idea about this scandal, but I find it completely morally reprehensible, in clear violation of the constitution, and I will not tolerate it whatsoever. I hereby order that the NSA be entirely shut down, and I will personally man the detonator to blow up their headquarters, which will be broadcast on live TV. Every single current NSA employee will be fired and prohibited from ever working in any level of government ever again. I will also sign an executive order permanently barring the collection of this type of data by any other agency, violation of which will be considered treason and will be punished by execution. As soon as these actions are complete, I will hereby resign the presidency, as this happened under my watch, and I take full responsibility.”
Let’s call that the “best case scenario” for the Glenn Becks of the world. My question is, do you REALLY think that would stop the government from spying on us? Do you really think they wouldn’t just set up a new, even MORE secret agency? Would President Biden be a significant improvement?
Some people just refuse to recognize that we have reached the point where we cannot rely on government itself to fix the problems that a bloated and tyrannical government caused. It is laughable to even consider that somehow, the President, or Congress, or the Supreme Court would put an end to the NSA spying program. Even if they said they did, why would any sane person believe them? Government is oppressive force, and it stands fundamentally opposed to individual freedom. It is corrupt not by coincidence, but by definition. The only way to reduce its power is to eliminate it completely. This starts by calling it what it is – beyond all repair. We solve this problem not by convincing Congress to tell the NSA to promise never to do it again, but by rendering government so impotent that it doesn’t have the resources to engage in such a program, and/or doesn’t have the reach, power, or capability to do anything useful with the data it already has or is still able to collect.