Here’s a small collection, by no means comprehensive, of recent incidents where people in authority have over-reached their power. The question to keep in mind when reviewing this data is not, “What would I do if I were a person in authority?” but rather, “How would I feel if I, my parent, my child, my spouse, or my friend was treated this way?” Why focus on that question? Because the vast majority of people are not in positions of authority. Most people aren’t going to be able to drop a name or have some inside connection to deliver them from whatever humiliations the authorities have in store. The very need to cultivate, nourish and protect such connections exposes the rot at the center of our democracy. It simply shouldn’t be necessary to “know people” in order to remain safe from abuse. That’s the kind of crap that flourishes in totalitarian states and banana republics.
Glenn Greenwald explains better than I ever could, just simply regarding domestic surveillance:
Why would anyone trust the current administration and subsequent administrations — not just their political officials but the thousands and thousands of permanent government and private employees — to spy on Americans, and store and collect extremely invasive information about Americans’ private lives, with no oversight or requirement to demonstrate probable cause to a court — as the Founders required — to believe that the citizen being spied on has actually done something wrong? Whatever the outcome of the Obama passport investigation is, whoever the parties responsible are and whatever their motives, shouldn’t this rather conclusively demonstrate the complete folly, the serious dangers, of continuing to vest in the government powers to spy on and collect data about Americans with no oversight?