Monday, September 30, 2013

United States of Surveillance

When President Obama changed course and decided not to press forward unilaterally on planned strikes against Bashar Al Assad’s regime, he was effectively heeding that constitutional catechism. Congress and the public had signaled their opposition to military action, and Obama responded by acknowledging the need for congressional support. After decades of presidents ordering foreign interventions without consulting the House and Senate, his move represented a dramatic and welcome reversal.
On the NSA, Obama has made the opposite calculation. Footage of missile attacks leaves lasting impressions, but surveillance by its nature is covert, and so the public reaction to it has been diffuse. Although some congressmen have objected to the programs, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has cavalierly blessed them, and citizens have tended to protest only when they feel their personal rights are threatened.

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