THE QUESTION in all this is whether having an elite establishment player sucked into the turbine of America’s massive anti privacy establishment will result in any light dawning on how our country has changed and just how depleted our civil liberties are today.
As far as I can tell it will not.
Tom Ricks offered his own views with Chris Hayes today, which included that it would just enable worse generals to rise. Also on the opening panel was Cato’s Julian Sanchez, someone who should be a regular on more cable infotainment shows, if only to offer the real constitutional issues at the foundation of this soap opera, along with David Frum, and Tara McElvey of the Daily Beast.
Here’s the background context to the seemingly unending string of revelations about General Petraeus’ extra-marital affair that I—and I’m not gonna front—have been following with a mix of fascination and shame for the last week and a half. Over the last decade two trends have conspired to vastly reduce our privacy.
First there’s technology. Social media has allowed us to share every last detail of our lives, often intentionally, and often unintentionally—the photo accidentally tagged on Facebook, the wayward strike of the reply-all button that shares your thoughts about a friend’s disastrous significant other— well, you get the picture. We now leave a digital trail traceable by anyone with the resources to buy access to it. Just this week we learned the Obama campaign knew what TV shows some of its targeted voters watched.
And then there is the massive explosion of the surveillance state in the wake of 9/11. Thanks to the PATRIOT Act, its reauthorization, the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) reauthorization and a series of policies and precedents during the Bush adminsitration that have been continued and codified under the Obama Administration, the government has access to more info about us than at any time in history. As just a small example of what this looks like in practice, U.S. government requests for information from Google don’t require warrants, AND, most crucially, don’t require disclosing secret, national security-related requests.
Chris Hayes proves again why the Sunday edition of his show is must see. That his guests aren’t the usual variety was illustrated today through the Israel – Gaza discussion. But also by Spencer Ackerman in the first segment, who offered a sound bite for the ages in the “zipless coup,” referencing the U.S. drone war.
For those uninformed on why I was immensely entertained by Ackerman’s “zipless coup,” see Erica Jong.