NSA director to get a public grilling in the Senate … General Keith Alexander, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, testifies before the House Armed Services Committee on September 23, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. … As pressure mounts for the intelligence community to curb its surveillance activities or at least make them more transparent, a key National Security Agency official will testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. Army Gen. Keith Alexander, National Security Agency director and head of U.S. Cyber Command, will testify before the full committee in a previously-scheduled session, marking the first time an NSA official will answer to Congress in public since news broke that the agency is collecting all of Verizon's U.S. phone records, as well as internet content from non-U.S. internet users abroad. – CBS
Dominant Social Theme: The US Congress will get to the bottom of these problems.
Free-Market Analysis: Nope. The US Congress is a political institution and in the modern era, political institutions are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
In fact, Western regulatory democracy is only about 400 years old, and for most of the past millennia, the idea that "government" could safeguard the freedoms of the average individual would have been looked on as a most strange perception, indeed.
Today, Congress is expected to "grill" the head of the NSA – see article excerpt above – as if those in Congress were not part of the same system that produced the NSA and its activities to begin with.
People who run for political office do so out of self-interest, advancement and the opportunity to grow wealthy. The idea that this mélange of priorities equips one to selflessly serve the public interest is absurd.
In fact, there is no public interest. There is only private interest and enlightened competition inspired by the Invisible Hand. Every law, ultimately, is a price fix, distorting economic activity and transferring funds from those who created the wealth to those who didn't and won't know how to utilize it properly.
Today, the US itself is a leviathan participating in some 50-plus wars and skirmishes around the world, involving itself in ludicrous enforcement activities such as the "drug war" and confiscating and disbursing some US$4 trillion in taxed and inflated assets every year.
A handful of globalist enterprises have presided over the unwinding of American exceptionalism in a campaign that reached a successful climax after the Civil War when states lost the right to secede and the modern money mechanism hove into view.
One can make money in the present system, mostly out of self-defense, but one should never confuse profits with sociopolitical health. In truth, whatever constitutionally motivated activities were undertaken over the years have mostly been discarded by now.
There is no way anything in the modern era in the US or abroad resembles minimalist government or free-market enterprises.
Nonetheless, Congress will gather today to take "testimony" on the "legal basis" for NSA surveillance. US spy enterprises are a billion dollar enterprise and a product of the current system. Congress is every bit as culpable as those it now seeks to question.
The mainstream media will not portray it this way, of course. It will continue to represent the current furor over leaks – that show the NSA is wiretapping virtually the entire communication stream of the Western world – as a rogue enterprise that Congress will somehow moderate.
Here's more from the article:
Lawmakers question legal basis for NSA surveillance McConnell on NSA leaker: "I hope he is prosecuted" Most disapprove of gov't phone snooping of ordinary Americans In addition to Alexander, others testifying include Rand Beers, acting deputy Homeland Security Secretary; Patrick Gallagher, acting deputy Commerce Secretary and director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology; and Richard McFeely, executive assistant director of the FBI's criminal, cyber, response, and services branch.
Intelligence officials have been holding closed-door briefings with members of Congress this week, getting them up to speed on the NSA's sweeping surveillance methods. After a Senate Intelligence Committee briefing on Wednesday, vice chairman of the committee Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., called Alexander "very straightforward," adding he "always let's us know what's happening."
While intelligence officials and the Obama administration insist Congress has been fully briefed on the NSA's activities, some members of Congress have disputed that. When Attorney General Eric Holder testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee last week, Committee chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said, "This 'fully briefed' is something that drives us up the wall. 'Fully briefed' doesn't mean we know what's going on."
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., an advocate for more transparency, has specifically called out Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for telling Congress in March that the NSA does not collect data on Americans. The White House on Tuesday defended Clapper, even though Clapper himself has said he gave Congress "the most truthful, or least untruthful" response he could.
The revelations about the NSA programs has renewed challenges against the laws used to justify the programs, namely the Patriot Act and the 2008 FISA Amendments Act. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Tuesday filed a lawsuit challenging the NSA's collection of Verizon records, calling it a violation of the organization's First and Fourth Amendment rights. Furthermore, the ACLU argues that the "business records" section of the Patriot Act doesn't give the agency the statutory authority for such sweeping surveillance.
Just as we predicted previously, the arguments now being made are technical ones. Congressional reps are claiming they've been kept in the dark on certain issues and the ACLU, a fairly wretched organization, gets to posture once again as a defender of civic freedoms.
Note, in fact, the ACLU's stance, that parts of the Patriot Act have been interpreted too broadly. The Patriot Act grew fully formed out of the events of 9/11 that still remain in great dispute, but those events will not be challenged by the ACLU, only certain elements of the authoritarian Act that was a "necessary" response to 9/11.
Thus tyranny expands. Edward Snowden's whistleblowing will now be used to create a Hegelian argument that will result in the further enshrinement of a vast encroachment of civil liberties. Thesis, antithesis … synthesis.
The argument will be conducted on a vast scale and throughout the controlled mainstream media. There will be much talk of constitutionality and many decisions made with the "Constitution" in mind.
In truth, even to begin with, the Constitution was philosophically sound but technically flawed. Today, almost any kind of authoritarianism can be justified in its name, even though defenders of freedom constantly invoke it in the US. But one should turn to natural law and the INTENT of certain libertarian framers such and Thomas Jefferson in order to understand what has gone wrong.
It is the MORAL underpinning of the US sociopolitical structure that has soured. Today, when people claim that something is legal, they are speaking to what Congress has or has not approved. But unfortunately, what Congress legalizes may or may not be legal within the context of the larger sweep of human history.
Natural law is far simpler than the modern bureaucratic mess – which is rapidly ushering in a form of neo-totalitarianism. Nor is the answer to this terrible dilemma a "return" to the Constitution.
People must return to their own roots, to self-sufficiency and communal understandings that raise up relationships with family, friends and the local community. Thomas Jefferson's vision of an agrarian republic was far more prescient than Alexander Hamilton's perspective of a technocracy run by a European-style Leviathan.
Hamilton's vision won out, as has been observed in several recent books, but maybe not forever, or even for long. The US black market may be as big as US$3-4 trillion, a third of the size of the "real" economy, and as people continue to lose faith in government institutions and take action to provide their own measures of self-sufficiency, the degradation of the larger social compact will continue.
This seems to us to be an irrevocable process, and no amount of Congressional hearings will delay it one bit.