Politicians, pundits and media personalities across the political spectrum support the NSA’s collection of records on millions of Americans while downplaying the threat to Americans and to the nation.
Is this because they are victims of groupthink and fail to understand the danger that exists when a government agency, regardless of how noble its charge is, controls huge amounts of data about elected officials, senior government leaders, members of the media, and the judiciary or is it because of fear and intimidation?
No one seems to remember that FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover, used the massive investigative powers of the FBI to develop files on Presidents, Congressmen and others. This, of course, gave him inordinate influence over those whose files he held since he could always leak embarrassing and career ending information about them or even prosecute them.
“The moment [Hoover] would get something on a senator,” said William Sullivan, who became the number three official in the bureau under Hoover, “he’d send one of the errand boys up and advise the senator that ‘we’re in the course of an investigation, and we by chance happened to come up with this data on your daughter. But we wanted you to know this. We realize you’d want to know it.’ Well, Jesus, what does that tell the senator? From that time on, the senator’s right in his pocket.”
No wonder Hoover retained his job for 37 years. What president would have dared replace him and what Congressman would have challenged him?
Will today’s and future Presidents, members of Congress, judges, investigative journalists or other Americans risk crossing the NSA should it ever go rogue when it has so much information on them?
And what is the impact, if any, of this on constitutional government and American’s freedoms?