GOVERNMENT SURVEILLANCE

On government surveillance, Americans complicit

 

jdeleon@chavez-deleon.com

The most vexing issue the world has dealt with is how the German people allowed the machinery of the German government to turn into a killing machine before its very eyes. How did evil triumph among one of the most civilized groups of people to have emerged on the European continent? The reasons why are still murky, the lesson learned: Never again.

Over 200 years ago this experiment called the United States of America was forged on the battlefields of this continent when the colonists undertook battle against the most powerful empire in the world. The power of the lesson of that battle won ended up being not that of the military might of the founders but of the ideas that evolved. Finally, the power of a nation emanated from the people over the sovereign. The sovereign was subject to the will of the people. Thus, the idea of limited government was forged. The people were sovereign.

This experiment was powerful enough that millions have given their lives to protect the legacy of the founders to pass on to future generations. The blood of those who have given their lives consecrates that ongoing battle. The beauty of the ideas of Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson and others was so great that the ongoing battle of the republic has been to include all those who live in this country of “we the people.” Malcolm X, Harvey Milk, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Cesar Chavez, and countless others simply fought to allow those who live here to reside in a place where all individuals are full participants in this revolutionary experiment.

The lives of those who came before, and the challenge for those will come after, who will fight for this country, will be to protect not our ability to have an iPad, a hybrid car or some other consumer good, but to live free, to be individuals free from a government that sees itself as a sovereign protecting its subjects, to one where individuals reign supreme.

The revelations that our government is essentially operating a shadow operation, in secret, monitoring all aspects of our individual lives, is anathema to the legacy of those who fought to establish a republic of limited government. The notion that government is operating with secret courts, secret decisions being made on our behalf, for our good, is an insult to the very core foundations and values of this nation.

Millions of people who died through the centuries, including the War of Independence, the Civil War, both world wars, and our wars in Korea and Vietnam, would turn over in their graves had our leaders ever suggested that we have a secret government working alongside a public one. The 9/11 attacks, and the losses incurred there, do not justify the destruction of the very reasons we exist as a nation.

The security challenges we face to our existence as a country today are dwarfed by those we faced — nuclear annihilation — during the Cold War. Yet no thought was given to create and institutionalize the post 9/11 mechanisms we have seen come to the light of day.

We must fight to leave to our children and coming generations a nation free from secret tribunals, government monitors everywhere, no transparency and unaccountable decision makers, whether in Congress or in the White House.

I am not afraid of living in a free country. I am terrified of what we are becoming.

We must stop this now. We the people have the power to free ourselves from the propaganda that we abdicate our freedom, transparency in government, and accountability, in order to protect us from “terrorists.” Democracy might be messy but it is what we signed on for. The actions taken by our government, and institutionalized by Congress, are not benign measures taken on our behalf; they strike at the essence of our revolutionary experiment.

The lesson I learned from Germany is that each of us is accountable as the institutions that protect freedom are subverted and we do nothing. Our silence equals complicity. I will not remain silent.

Let’s take action to end this now.

John de Leon is an attorney and a past president of the Greater Miami ACLU.

Read more Other Views stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
DOCKERY

    FLORIDA POLITICS

    RPOF’s deliberate strategy to twist the truth

    As a lifelong Republican and a legislator for many years, I have seen a disturbing change in the Republican Party of Florida, its policies and its tone. I’m particularly troubled by the willingness, if not deliberate strategy, to twist the truth.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">CIVIL RIGHTS:</span> Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Capt. Ron Johnson of the State Highway Patrol after arriving in Missouri on Wednesday to look into the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the ensuing protests.

    FERGUSON

    State leaders strangely silent on events in Ferguson

    The silence scares me.

  •  
FAIR

    MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

    Unequal access, unequal results at Miami-Dade County Schools

    The research is clear that teachers are the most significant in-school factor affecting student achievement. Yet, across the country, we see a persistent and shameful pattern, whereby low-income students of color are far more likely to have the least experienced and least effective teachers.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category