When government agencies release a report on a Friday, you know that there’s someone who’s hoping that news about the report will get lost in the weekend news cycle and be forgotten by Monday. When that government report is released on a Friday evening in the middle of the summer, it’s a sign of something particularly embarrassing.
That’s just what happened with the release of an inspectors general report about the use of Big Brother spying techniques by the White House against law-abiding Americans within the borders of the USA. There’s a lot to cover from this report, but here are some highlights:
– The Bush Administration was engaging in much more surveillance against Americans than has been revealed so far. The report calls this spying “extraordinary and inappropriate”, but the inspectors general won’t reveal to the public just what it involved.
– Top officials concluded that the Big Brother spying wasn’t actually very effective in protecting Americans against terrorism.
– Congress was not informed of the spying as required by law.
That last point is extremely important because of two other factors:
– Much of the warrantless spying against Americans continues under President Barack Obama
– The story expanded last night with leaked information that Vice President Dick Cheney himself was directing intelligence agencies to keep information about spying secret from the U.S. Congress.
What makes this a Green Party issue? For one thing, the Green Party is opposed to government secrecy and violations of Americans constitutional rights. On a political level, the Green Party can be strongly differentiated from the Democrats and the Republicans, as both of these political parties are involved in the cover-up of government surveillance programs against the American people.
Not only has the Democratic-led Congress failed to conduct any meaningful inquiry into the illegal spying, but last year, many Democrats, including then-Senator Barack Obama, joined the Republicans in passing the FISA Amendments Act, a law that legalized massive electronic surveillance of our private communications and provided retroactive immunity to telecommunications corporations who helped George W. Bush with his spying programs. Furthermore, President Obama has opposed efforts by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to reveal the extent of electronic spying against Americans.
Last month, in order to start to control the abuse, a small number of Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee introduced a measure into an appropriations bill that would increase the number of members of Congress who would have to be informed of CIA spying activities. Almost immediately, President Obama announced that he was opposed to the measure, and would veto any legislation that included such requirements for increased oversight.
How did the House Democrats react? They backed down, saying that they’ll work with the White House to cripple to oversight provision.
At the very time that it’s becoming clear that the Republicans’ illegally kept secrets about government spying from Congress, Obama and the congressional Democrats are working to make sure that the secrecy continues. The Democrats aren’t repairing the Republicans’ attacks against the Constitution – they’re continuing them. It’s going to take another political party with true progressive values to undo the damage.