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Greenwald on Digital Surveillance

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Glenn Greenwald has a must-read essay at Cato Unbound surveying America’s governmental surveillance industry.

Millions of Americans supported Barack Obama with the understanding that he would begin to rein in the surveillance state. Those expectations have not been met; to the contrary, the strength and unaccountability of the surveillance state continue to grow. As Greenwald notes, congressional oversight is a farce, and there is no evidence that the massive investment in surveillance has produced any payoffs—notwithstanding a massive bill for the taxpayers and a continuous frittering away of civil liberties.

America still has the trappings of its Constitution—checks and balances, congressional oversight, and review of state action in the courts. Yet in the area of national security in general, and digital surveillance in particular, these institutions have ceased to play their intended roles. A long trail of illegal conduct, starting with the systematic and felonious violation of FISA, the persecution of whistleblowers, the evasion of court oversight as well as a consistent pattern of misrepresentation to courts, and the development of a client, rather than compliance, relationship with the Department of Justice, points to the growth of a secret inner state. It involves unjustifiable cost, makes the country no safer, and it is rotting the Constitution from within.

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