Monday, February 06, 2006

Question and Answer Time

The Senate hearings on Domestic Surveillance has begun. What is interesting about it so far is the questions that those testifying before the Senate Committee refuse to answer in open session or not answer at all. These questions are about broad surveillance of U. S. citizens beyond the NSA wiretapping surveillance.

Government lawyers and legal scholars have published many excellent opinions about the legality of the these surveillance programs and the President’s authority—both pro and con. Reading through these opinions is no easy chore for the interested citizen who does not possess expertise in these areas.

The fact remains though, that a citizen is supposed to be the sovereign ruler of the country. Citizens, if they take their leadership duties seriously, are the ones who must have the thing explained to their satisfaction by their elected government officials no matter what branch of government or political party. They must also be the ultimate arbiter of what ought be allowed and what should not be. This means understanding what is at stake with these kinds of issues such as the Bill of Rights.

The program was carried on in secrecy for four years. No government official publicly announced the existence of this program, and now in front of Congressional Committee they refuse to comment on others like it.

The press following information gathered through their own intelligence networks has been the whistleblower. Too many people want to shoot the messenger rather than look to the real culprits—elected officials—for answers.

Surveillance activities on U. S. citizens is another issue that has roughly divided the country along two fundamentally different political views. The authoritarians don’t care much about the Bill of Rights as long as clear authority is established, and they have a proper place in the authoritarian pecking order. As long as they are not wiretapped, to Hell with everybody else.

The other group (supply your own name) believes in the ideals stated in the Preamble to the Constitution. They believe that U. S. history is a struggle to make progress toward those ideals for all its citizens. Critiques abound as to why those ideals have not been achieved, but the ideals remain.

Whatever side one lines up with, the questions also remain. Like, why does our government feel the desperate need to keep its citizens in the dark about programs that gut the heart of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? Should we trust people who have no desire or compulsion to tell the truth? Why don’t they use Constitutional and legal means to carry out their programs such as amending the Constitution or enacting new laws?

The citizens must take the leadership role in having their questions answered because the Courts, Congress, and President won’t. It is only because of the 53% opinion (WSJ/NBC poll) stating the President should not wiretap outside of FISA that has kept the pressure on any of them to answer questions for and be accountable to the ultimate authority of this country—its citizens.

The citizens are asking questions and the elected officials are answering questions. If the elected officials find the chore too burdensome or tiresome, then they need to be excused from their chores after the 2006 elections.

4 Comments:

At 3:55 PM, Blogger Edie said...

I can't imagine that WSJ readers are an accurate sample of popular opinion. Probably, though, the dissatisfaction of this group is more significant to Republicans.

 
At 4:06 PM, Blogger Lynn said...

edie,

My understanding is that the WSJ/NBC poll attempts to be a random sample of registered voters. I would suspect a sample of WSJ readers to look very differently.

 
At 4:46 PM, Blogger Edie said...

I see. All the same, it seems like it would capture the national opinion from a more conservative angle. Maybe I'm just prejudiced...

Also, I wonder what the registered/unregistered population ratio is these days. Don't suppose that matters for election purposes.

 
At 4:56 PM, Blogger Lynn said...

edie,

They did not give any detail on their sampling techniques except to mention that they tried to capture a sample of registered voters.

I see where you are coming from. If you are a displaced person from the recent Gulf Coast disasters, your chances of being in the survey are about nil. One can think of other groups who fit the same description.

 

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