The NSA spy program expired at midnight, 40 minutes ago.
In The Senate Report, Torture, & Anatomy of Fear, I ended with, “Next: But what could there possibly be to be afraid of?” But I didn’t write about it, because I felt that illumination of what there is to be afraid of might inspire evil-doers. I did not want an explication to be captured by search engines.
I still don’t want that. But now, 40 minutes after the expiration, I am very, very afraid. You should share my fear. The security situation is actually much worse than you know, unless you are one of those who is in the know.
After 9/11, our government was caught on the horns of a dilemma. If the public was fully aware of our vulnerability, paralysis of normal life would occur. In the opposite direction, if the public were assured that we have been, as a nation, victorious in the war on terror, we would conversely become more vulnerable.
Now, 14 years later, we have become innured to the pinpricks of lone wolves, but the fear of another 9/11, or worse, has receded. Fear has gone away because it is an emotion, and emotions dim with time. But the risk has never gone away. It may have increased. Here’s a list of sentences. Take home the one that feels like a gut-punch:
- The security situation is much worse than you know.
- The responsible persons at the FBI do not sleep very well at night.
- The risk of casualties in the millions is greater than zero. The risk of casualties in the hundreds of thousands is very real.
- Events of the above magnitude would cause the suspension, for a very long time, of civil liberties as we today enjoy.
- Of Senate obstruction, even for a brief period of time, those responsible must bear the burden of those lives.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court rubber stamped NSA activities. There have been abuses at the NSA. But to enjoy civil liberties, you have to be alive.