Yesterday I noted the impressive blog efforts of Joy-Ann Reid, who seems to be almost alone in making sense about those darn “civil liberties liberals” (translation: those emoprogressive purists who want to find an issue to hammer Obama with, because nothing threatens their anti-system views more than someone finding a way to make the system work).
Hers is one voice I’m glad to be hearing, and the more I scour the net, the more I am able to find at least a few more such voices. The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent (who writes a regular blog called “The Plum Line” is another voice of sanity in these times when “liberal” can now as often refer to someone with full-blown Obama Derangement Syndrome as not.
I have taken a consistent position on this privacy kerfuffle ever since it emerged – that the majority of it is pure ideological abstraction and “liberal-tarian” lunacy, but Obama could do himself a favour if he declassified a lot of documents right about now, and the controversy is only going to get worse and derail his reform projects if he doesn’t do that…we’ll be up to our armpits in wild, gesticulating emos foaming at the mouth about the rise of the American Stasi or whatever.
Greg Sargent has my back. He has argued, in a series of articles, that the Prez may be on firm ground as far as these NSA programs having appropriate oversight, but no one is ever going to believe that unless they see declassified examples of documents that prove that oversight does, in fact, exist.
Like me, he has consistently noted that most Americans support specific kinds of surveillance that our liberal-tarians insist most Americans will think is unconstitutional. Also like me, however, he has consistently called for declassification, particularly of documents relating to FISA and to congressional intelligence committee reviews. The article I have linked is a good example of what Sargent has been arguing in his columns.
I think Sargent has it right on. Most Americans are fine with the NSA programs – Sargent, again like me, spends a lot of time quoting polls that make this abundantly clear. But Americans are _also_ interested in greater transparency about how these programs work, and Obama is in for a world of political hurt, both from voters generally and from his own party in the 2014 primaries, if he doesn’t give it to them.
Sargent reports that the White House has “tentatively” ordered a review of what FISA decisions can “responsibly” be declassified. That’s a hopeful sign – but I would urge the Obama Administration to even consider declassifying some things which, under normal circumstances, one might make a “responsible” decision to keep under wraps, because the threat from the firebag Left and the Rand Paul Right is that serious. As long as it is even marginally possible to portray the US as a Stasi-in-waiting, Glenn Greenwald’s minions will grow.
It is time to take firebaggers and Paulites as seriously as FDR took the followers of Huey Long – their support comes from the same kind of unfocused frustration, and features the same kind of hobnobbing of ostensible liberals, reckless demagogues and dangerous extremists. Transparency is more than just what is owed to the people of the US – the more the government is transparent, the more the fear of secrecy can’t be used as a prod to manipulate people, and the more extremist movements can’t count on apathy because “the government is (probably) just as bad”.
Hopefully more people will hear voices like Greg Sargent’s in the coming weeks.