June 11 2013
Washington When It Sizzles
Has anybody noticed the irony in the current NSA scandal?
The agency that collects data that includes information on U.S. citizens failed to pick up on 29-year-old Edward Snowden’s intention to blow its cover? Despite a silver platter full of tips from Russia, the U.S. government failed to ship the older, EBT-fed Boston bomber out of the U.S. before he could kill and maim American citizens? A Fort Hood major says he is a “soldier of Allah” but doesn’t arouse sufficient concern from the military brass to prevent a massacre?
Since I am struggling to make up my mind about the NSA program, pinging from Michael Mukasey (“Leaking Secrets Empowers Terrorists”) on one hand and Rand Paul (“Big Brother Really Is Watching Us”) on the other, I’ll content myself with an observation prompted by recent scandals: we are certainly beginning to distrust government.
I wrote a piece last week for Townhall arguing that distrust of government is a good thing. Love of country is a great thing, particularly if you have the luck to be a citizen of this one. But it’s good for Americans to cultivate a good, healthy skepticism of government. The Founding Fathers did, and this is a tradition well worth preserving. Of course, I couldn’t have imagined that within a week even liberals would be on an anti-government rampage!
There seems to be a new scandal every day (here’s the latest). What they all have in common is government’s attempt to control information, the most important commodity there is in a democracy, especially a digital age democracy. Even the latest one—allegations of sex ‘n drugs at Hillary Clinton’s Department of State—involves, if CBS got it right, an attempt to cover-up the truth.
I have a hunch that in the new atmosphere of Washington, Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings’s pathetic attempt to put the IRS scandal back into the box (“Case Closed”) is less likely to fly than it would have been a year ago. We are also likely to begin asking questions. One is the one with which I began this post: Why, if the government knows so damned much about everybody, did it fail to prevent the the Boston Marathon bombing? We'll also have important questions about whether this country still adheres to the Bill of Rights.
We have a lot of things we need to talk about.
So, as profoundly disturbing as these scandals are, maybe it was about time.