Has America lost the war while searching for enemies of the state?

Enjoy the Snowden drama but please consider carefully far more profound implications. Photo: AP

NEW YORK, June 24, 2013 — Chasing spies makes for gripping news. Enjoy the Snowden drama but please consider carefully far more profound implications.

Spy capers, tiffs with Russia and spats with China are much less worrying than passive acceptance inside America of a rigid security state that will, over time, crush our hard-won civil rights.


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Simple math and elementary logic tell us there must be more enemies among the 6,778.5 million foreigners living outside America than amidst the 316.7 million citizens living here.

We Built An Expensive Security Operation that Fails America

“It could have been much worse” is not the way emcees introduce clear winners to a justifiably adoring public in most fields of endeavor. Yet, that is the essence of the argument Presidents since 2001 have used to explain why we should applaud their “progress” in fighting indistinct foreign enemies with gargantuan expenditures. As we ponder just how successful America has been, three recent cases deserve additional thought.

Anna Chapman and other spies in service to Russia were arrested on Sunday, June 27, 2010. By Thursday, July 8, 2010, the group was already on its way home, exchanged rapidly for a few of our own held by Russia. At the time, many wondered why America rushed to make the trade.


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In the past, America held captured spies as long as practicable and did her best to learn as much as possible concerning their reach, their sources, and their methods.

Why did the very people who need to build vast new complexes to store information on Americans decide to cut loose Anna Chapman and her coterie after such a short detention period, when little fruitful interrogation could have happened?

Then there is the case of the Tsarnaev brothers. With the information apparently collected, the resources at our disposal, and all the warning signs, how did we fail to avert tragedy in Boston this year?

Rather than vacuuming the internet and the airwaves, our elite groups should, it would seem, concentrate upon high priority targets who communicate in subtle ways, possibly using foreign languages spoken in terror prone nations, and who travel to these places under highly suspicious circumstances.

Our last recent case is Edward Snowden. Until we know more details, the less said, perhaps, the better. Whatever turns out to be underlying “truth”, our President and leaders of our security services are responsible for failing to guard sensitive information that first fell into the hands of private contracting firms and now may be in hands of our enemies.

When Did Americans Vote to Embrace a Soft Tyranny of Greatly Diminished Expectations?

Throughout history, tyrants have imposed order on populations arguing they know best how to assure public safety.

Now we are starting to appreciate that a form of theoretically benevolent tyranny has become law, with no informed and public debate,

The penny finally dropped scant weeks ago with dramatic Snowden revelations and in reactions since then from our Federal Government.

Leaders in both parties effectively say we should embrace a tyranny of best intentions.

Rest assured, the safety nets they so wisely installed will protect us from all manner of threats.

We need only surrender ourselves to a vast, faceless bureaucracy that chooses, with limited supervision, how to work with myriad contractors sifting through mountains of our private data. Then, and only then, shall we be truly safe.

In this new sort of modern government, we must meekly trust.

Stuff and nonsense.

Rejecting False Teachings of a Government that is Unchained from Historical Reality

How stupid and naïve was James Madison, when he published this under a pseudonym in 1788 as part of Federalist Paper # 51?

“If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. [But lacking these] in framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

Who among us truly believes today that our government is in effective control of itself?

A small band of determined enemies spent an estimated $ 500,000 in 2001 to carry out the September bombings. Since then, we have lost and wounded tens of thousands of citizens and committed trillions of dollars—are we really, truly safer today?

Abroad, violence mires Iraq and Afghanistan–these supposed allies are poised, perhaps, to join in league with other foes of America and of western civilization.

The Arab “Spring”, supported at great taxpayer cost with virtually no public oversight, is descending into chaos.

Where, then, are the abiding success stories abroad since September 2001 that make a complete, convincing case for Americans to surrender civil rights at home?

Even if there were some, have we forgotten great regrets from the Civil War (when we suspended habeas corpus and other rights) and from World War II (when we interned citizens, just because of their national origin)?

No, this Government and both parties have lost sight of the essence of America’s greatness. Our Constitution is a rock for all ages that neatly and elegantly helps us maintain a government, at home, for the unique benefit of our citizens. Unless we all missed something quite dramatic, all of our government officials are honor bound to abandon an error strewn path and return, instead, to adhere to Constitutional precepts.

More than a decade into a fight that seemingly knows no end, the time has come for robust and informed debate. It is more than fitting that we Americans recharge our political fervor and restore our exceptional spirit by heeding lessons taught by men like Thomas Jefferson, who sagely observed:

“Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of the body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”

Our forbears did not throw off one form of tyranny in 1776 so that we could embrace another by 2013.


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Charles Ortel

Charles Ortel became a lapsed member of the silent majority in August 2007 when he began alerting the public to dangers posed by structural changes in the global economy. Since then, Charles has appeared in the print, radio and television media with increasing frequency. Brass Tacks will attempt to offer non-partisan perspective on factors contributing to the unresolved, burgeoning crisis and discuss potential solutions. Graduated from Horace Mann School, Yale College and Harvard Business School, Charles tries to learn each day.  

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