By Tim Zyla: Reflections: Where's the outrage?
With rumblings about NSA mass surveillance programs beginning to quiet down as whistle blower Edward Snowden is speculated as being in limbo in a Russian airport, I've found myself in shock at the lackadaisical attitude of Americans in reaction to the leaks. Media outlets and citizens alike appear to be focusing the conversation toward Snowden himself, who according to reports Saturday has been granted asylum in multiple South American countries, as opposed to looking at where we stand as a country. To be blunt; Snowden doesn't matter, and even he knows that. The decisions the country makes during the pursuit of Snowden will lay groundwork for how future whistle blowers are treated, but we the people are not whistle blowers, nor spies. We the people need to be focusing on not just the NSA and how it operates, but how the entire government operates. The Snowden situation should have brought some of this discussion to the table, but the point has largely been missed. The mainstream media clearly operates on what brings in an audience, and in typical reality-TV style, the prevalent headline centers around 'What will happen to Snowden next?'
So, with that aside, what do the leaks actually mean?
Staunch Republicans would probably have you think President Obama is laying the groundwork for a nationwide domestic spying operation. Unwavering Democrats will likely mention that there has not been a terrorist attack since 9/11 thanks to programs like PRISM and Tempora. Both talking points are typical rhetoric filled with half truths. Although I personally believe the idea of a tyrannical government taking power in the United States is not an imminent danger, domestic surveillance programs certainly do set a foundation for it to occur in much easier fashion out of the public's view. The government granting itself more power in exchange for the freedom of the American people is not a partisan topic. President Bush signed into law the Patriot Act, one of the most unconstitutional pieces of legislation pertaining to surveillance that ever received bi-partisan support in Congress. Bush did this on the heels of 9/11 only a month and a half after telling the American public that if we changed our ways the terrorists have won.
The million dollar question is: If a Republican were president, would he have support of Republican voters that currently are criticizing Obama for turning a blind eye to the NSA programs currently under scrutiny?
From what I've seen in person and on social media, the answer is largely "Yes," and herein lies one of the bigger problems the country faces.
The party system, and subsequent blind support of it, is hurting America in a terrible way. Both parties want as much power as they can grasp, and when it is granted by Congress, it will never be reversed. Neither party is going to willingly surrender any abilities they currently hold whether it be surveillance related or not. It has not happened in the past, and it will not happen in the future.