When the story of Edward Snowden and his revelations about massive snooping on the American people by the National Security Administration first broke, the great writer Charlie Pierce wrote an epic blog post entitled, "Tell Me What Is Being Done In My Name." The gist, as you can guess from the title, is that 12 years after 9/11, it's time for the government to be more open and honest about the extent of its seemingly out-of-control security apparatus. Some of that things that NSA and other agencies are doing might in fact be justifiable, but it's time for the people to have more insight -- and more of a say.
The NSA scandal -- at least on this one issue, the surveillance state -- has exploded what seems like an unbreakable ideological gridlock in Washington. In a vote on whether to defund some of the NSA efforts, a band of libertarian Republicans and civil liberties minded Democrats came with a handful of votes of defeating the Obama administration.
The new divide breaks out like this: You believe that protections of Americans' constitutional rights are paramount, even if that means reigning in the gross excesses in a "war on terror," or you believe the unfettered pursuit of safety from terrorism justifies excessive secrecy -- and violating your rights from time to time.
A few months ago, you had a situation where many of the right were die-hard supporters of NSA-type operation always were screaming for an investigation of what happened in Benghazi, Libya, on the night that four Americans were murdered, 9/11/12, claiming a massive cover-up by the Obama administration. At first those calls seemed silly -- while it was important to know what security lapses had aided the terrorists so they are not repeated, there was absolutely zero evidence of a cover-up, and no reason to think that Obama's State Department had been anything but a victim of a tragic and vile attack.
But actually there is more to it. It turns out the NSA's desperation to keep you from knowing what it's doing with your phone records (which included committing perjury, in case you've forgotten) is matched by the CIA's desperation to keep you from knowing what happened in Benghazi:
Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency's missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency's workings.
The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress.
It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career.
In exclusive communications obtained by CNN, one insider writes, "You don't jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well."
What could they possibly be trying to hide?
Speculation on Capitol Hill has included the possibility the U.S. agencies operating in Benghazi were secretly helping to move surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels.
I don't know about you, but allegations that the CIA is intimidating people to keep quiet gets my back up. It's a point that I've been making here again and again -- that the American government is keeping too many secrets, too afraid to let the public that they allegedly work for know what they're doing. So let's be clear: It's time for people to pick a side. If you support getting to the bottom of what happened at Benghazi, then you support Edward Snowden and his whistleblowing efforts with the NSA. It's not pro-Obama or anti-Obama, or pro-CIA or anti-CIA. You either support greater transparency in government, or you support a runaway national security state.
Me? I want to know what is being done in my name at the NSA, and I want to know what was being done in my name in Benghazi. Who's with me?