The Security State Is a Major Threat to Democracy

Lee FangLee Fang reported something that bothers me a whole lot, In New Video, Congressman Explains Why His Fellow Lawmakers Couldn’t Be Trusted with NSA Oversight. The main thing is that Representatives Alan Grayson and Morgan Griffith were not allowed to see information they requested from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). This is a perfect example of a troubling situation in the United States because it involves both a Democrat and a Republican. This isn’t about partisanship. This is about unelected government employees trumping the will of the people. It is, in a word: undemocratic.

In the video, Representative Jim Langevin claims that they were refused access because they didn’t have the right security clearance. It makes it all sound like a secret club. And indeed, the members of the HPSCI are known to be very cozy with the intelligence community. So the only way that we — the people — are ever going to get true oversight is if our elected representatives are allowed access to what is going on. This country hasn’t existed all these years without a religious test only to enact a backdoor security test. Our country’s politics are already overrun with boy and girl scouts. I don’t want to make it any worse.

Eventually, Griffith (the Republican) was granted access to the information she wanted — although it took over three months of pushing. Grayson (the Democrat), on the other hand, was never granted access. The committee claims that it has this right. Grayson disagrees, “The committee has no authority to make those kinds of distinctions. They’ve created two tiers for members of Congress. I’m not aware of any statutory authority for such a distinction; but it’s just a power grab as members of Intelligence and I have the same constitutional authority.” Of course. That’s the point. And remember: the Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives claim to be “Constitutional Conservatives.” But they are just entirely typical authoritarians.

Every time there is a major security leak, as we got with Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks, what we see is that the secrets have little or nothing to do with security. They are usually just embarrassing things and, above all, things they don’t want the American people to know. We’ve seen the same thing when old security documents are declassified — in the United States and in Russia. I understand that a certain level of secrecy is necessary in the world. But it is clear that we have far too much secrecy and that it is being used as a weapon against democratic control of the country. At the time of this nation’s formation, the concern was that the military would control the country. Now it seems we have the intelligence services controlling the government. And we don’t even know who or where they are.

There are obvious solutions to this problem. But they all depend upon the people of the United States waking up to the threat. Instead, they seem actively opposed to doing anything about it. We saw this last year when the people of Colorado decided to replace the excellent Mark Udall with the wingnut Cory Gardner. Well played people; well played.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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