Notice that all the public discussion about the NSA’s supersecret, massive surveillance scheme assumes that the NSA has become a permanent part of American life. The debate revolves around what restrictions, if any, should be placed on the NSA’s authority to spy on people.
But the real question that Americans should be debating is, Why not simply abolish the NSA?
The NSA was brought into existence as part of the national-security state apparatus that was grafted onto our constitutional order to fight the Cold War against America’s World War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union. This apparatus brought a fundamental change in our constitutional order, and it was created without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment.
But the Cold War is over. It ended more than two decades ago. Why do we need a gigantic, supersecret, Cold War–era spy agency in our midst?
NSA proponents say that despite the end of the Cold War, the NSA is still necessary to “keep us safe.”
Really? Safe from what? Safe from the dangers that the two other major components of the national-security state — the military and the CIA — produce through their policies and programs overseas! At the risk of belaboring the obvious, that’s quite a racket.
Recall that immediately after the 9/11 attacks, the first thing that national-security officials said was that the terrorists were motivated by hatred for America’s “freedom and values.”
That was palpable nonsense. The real motive was rooted in anger and hatred over the horrific things that the U.S. government had been doing to people in the Middle East, especially since the end of the Cold War, when the national-security state lost its official enemy — Communism — the enemy that had been used to justify the existence and expansion of the national-security state for some 40 years.
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