Can Government have Any Secrets Anymore?In this age. which has been described as post-historical by Frank Fukuyama, can a nation be allowed to defend itself, when such a defense might require us to keep secrets from the enemy? That is the question before us, and it is taken up, or at least a part of it is, in an article in Commentary magazine that explores whether the New York Times can be allowed to release crucial secrets to the public, or can (and should) government take steps to stop such disclosure. As they state:
Ever since 9/11, U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement authorities have bent every effort to prevent our being taken once again by surprise. An essential component of that effort, the interception of al-Qaeda electronic communications around the world, has been conducted by the NSA, the government arm responsible for signals intelligence. The particular NSA program now under dispute, which the Times itself has characterized as the U.S. government’s “most closely guarded secret,” was set in motion by executive order of the President shortly after the attacks of September 11. Just as the Times has reported, it was designed to track and listen in on a large volume of calls and e-mails without applying for warrants to the Foreign Intelligence Security Act (FISA) courts, whose procedures the administration deemed too cumbersome and slow to be effective in the age of cell phones, calling cards, and other rapidly evolving forms of terrorist telecommunication.I believe that, in a dangerous world, we must give this power to the government. It is, IMHO, one of the few powers that we must give them, but without granting it the power to defend us, there is no reason to have a government at all. And I must ask, just who is it who wants to take this power away from the government? After all, it can not be a mere coincidence that we have not been attacked since 9/11/01. They have managed to protect us through some means. Anyone who believes that we have been protected by the Transportation Safety Administration, or Homeland Security, has clearly not flown in an airplane in the last four years. Indeed, anyone who believes that, has no need of an airplane in order to fly.
Rational living in a complicated world requires making rational choices. This is not about the government listening into our conversations about sex, drugs, or rock 'n roll. This is not about the books we read. This is about survival itself. Anyone who believes that we are strong enough, and safe enough, to follow a 1960s peace rally line in truly dangerous times, must have left a large part of his brain back there as well. To protect us, the government must keep some secrets from the enemy. That necessitates keeping secrets from us. We have a choice on this. We can grow up, or we can surrender.