I am a 72-year old, retired teacher and entrepreneur (founder of three successful computer companies); lifelong novelist and poet; and also a listener of Bill Moyers. I enjoyed the conversation with Heidi Boghosian and offer the following thoughts as a response.
“Having tried and failed to suspend habeas corpus for two American citizens, Jose Padilla and Esam Hamdi (Hamdi v. Rumsfeld), the Congress passed, and George W. Bush on Oct. 17, 2006, signed HR-6166, a bill that authorizes the government to try non-resident alien terror suspects by military tribunals and to suspend their rights of habeas corpus… provisions of a law that has been considered accepted common law, and standard legal practice, by the civilized world for over 800 years.” That is from a blog entry I penned in 2006. http://redroom.com/member/charles-entrekin/blog/the-military-commissions-act-should-be-repealed
Seven years later, the United States government via the NSA conducts illegal search of American citizens. It is not hard to connect the dots between the suspension of habeas corpus and illegal searches and seizures that violate the rights of American citizens and citizens throughout the world. Now that we know that there has been torture, no prosecution of the torture, and no accountability in the government (the decision-makers), we are left with the sad conclusion that the intelligence community is out of control. With a do-nothing Congress and a deny-Obama-any-successes attitude amongst the Republicans, regardless of the cost, we are left, as a citizenry, with dismay and horror and confusion as to what can be done to correct our broken system. Edward Snowden, threatened with prosecution under the Espionage Act in the USA and the Official Secrets Act in Britain, shows this to be a worldwide problem. The government’s accusation of espionage by whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden reminds me of some of the earlier strategies of the totalitarian governments that demand secrecy for themselves and prosecution for anyone who threatens their secrecy. The Occupy Movement, faced with infiltration by the NSA and storm trooper tactics by the police basically, it seems to me, have done the only thing possible—decentralized, no leaders—maintaining strength through anonymity, succeeding in bringing the discussion about the 1% versus the 99% into international consciousness.
It now remains up to the American people to defend and uphold the Constitution. After the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked what type of government they had built, a Republic or a Monarchy, and he replied, “A Republic, madam, if you can keep it.” If we want to keep it, it is time for the people to demand that their voices be heard. In October 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses, protesting the inequality of the authority of the Catholic hierarchy, on the door of Wittenberg Castle. The felt inequities had reached a breaking point and a revolution needed only a spark to take hold and make its needs known. Just so in today’s internet world. Edward Snowden has shown us the way. Like Martin Luther, he has posted the malfeasance of the US government on the Internet sites of the world.