Will we confront what's happening and move now to change our trajectory? There areglimmerings of rationality amid the fear-mongering, including the public's growingunderstanding – despite politicans' foot-dragging and the media's longstanding refusal to do its job on this issue, like so many others – that the war on (some) drugs has been an internationalcatastrophe and, at home, a useful tool for those who'd curb liberty.Obama says he wants to have a "conversation" about surveillance, even though hisadministration works mightily to keep so much of its workings – on these and other matters – secret from the American public, Congress and the judiciary other than opaque, rubber-stampcourts. What we really need is a larger conversation about state power and the actual risks weface, with context and clarity. In the process we need to confront the people who amass power and profits by fueling the ever-expanding, increasingly militarized surveillance state, and insistthat they explain and justify what they're doing. Their "trust us" nostrums are hollow.I don't know what the American public will conclude if we ever have that conversation. I woulddo whatever I could to help everyone understand that a surveillance society is profoundly un-American. I implore journalists to be part of the truth-telling, to take a stand for the Bill of Rights by doing their jobs as the founders intended. If we're to preserve the risk-filled but nobleAmerican experiment of trusting people with liberty, we'd all best get started.I'm proudly American, in large part because we've so often faced hard facts and ultimately, if belatedly, done what's right. I have faith that the American people want the unadorned truth andwill think through what's at stake this time – and that they'll take to heart BenjaminFranklin's eternally wise admonition: "Those who would give up essential liberty, to
purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
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