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A Democracy Long GoneJoe Clifford Salem-News.com
Those who violate the law and our privacy are accountable to no one, while the hero with a conscience will be imprisoned for life.
(JAMESTOWN, RI) - I no longer understand my country. The changes I see frighten me and the indifference of the public is in indication that freedom and democracy are on the verge of extinction. Democracy is based on openness and transparency; they cannot co-exist, as they are opposites. We have "secret courts", "secret laws", "secret trials", "secret judges", "secret kill lists" including Americans citizens, "secret prisons", where we do not know who is being held. The views of our Congressional delegation on "secrecy" apparently are a big "secret".
A "whistle blower" with a conscience revealed to the public that government is intercepting all their communications including e-mail, phone, computer, and that government is not only spying on all Americans, it is spying on the entire world. World anger and outrage is causing embarrassment for the US government. Apparently the US government did not discriminate in its spying program; we spy on everyone. Despite my belief that the public has the right to know that its privacy has been invaded, a violation of the constitutional right to privacy, the whistleblower is labeled a traitor and a worldwide hunt seeks him out so that he will be silenced and the cloak of secrecy maintained. Those who violate the law and our privacy are accountable to no one, while the hero with a conscience will be imprisoned for life.
In a similar situation we have a young soldier with a conscience who witnessed war crimes, including the murder of innocent people in Iraq, and his conscience dictated he make this information public. He is currently on trial in a courtroom where the 23 witness against him are hidden behind a "secret" screen. He is not allowed to know who is testifying against him, and his lawyer's conversations have been intercepted by the government. Truly this is a "kangaroo court", yet the public is indifferent.
Journalists have been targeted and spied upon, endangering the idea of a free press, and even journalists who have been compromised seemingly accept their fate quietly, as does the public.
The argument the public uses to justify its indifference is; if you don't have anything to hide why worry? This is intellectually lazy argument and it displays a complete lack of historical context. You do not have the right to casually surrender rights which were gained by the tens of thousands of brave patriots who shed much blood to gain constitutional rights. We do not have the right to virtually give those rights away, thus betraying the heroes who fought and died to gain them. The same argument of why worry, was adopted by the German population in pre WWII.
If you can be secretly imprisoned, tortured, deprived of legal representation, spied upon constantly, and even secretly killed by your own government without reason or explanation, do you really believe you have a democracy?
_________________________________Salem-News.com Writer Joe Clifford, lives in historic Jamestown, Rhode Island, and has contributed a number of articles relating to foreign policy to newspapers in the Rhode Island area for years.
He graduated from Providence College where he earned an undergraduate and graduate degree. After a lengthy career as a high school teacher he turned to the study of US foreign policy, and then to writing, as a means of expressing an alternative perspective. His reading and research on foreign policy is broad and extensive, especially as the policy relates to the Middle East. His interest in foreign policy was inspired by the American misadventure in Vietnam. You can write to Joe at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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