Let’s start by saying that the Patriot Act (along with all of its bastard children) needs repealed ASAP, and the infrastructure that supports its aims needs trundled off to the scrap heap immediately afterwards. The notion that we are guilty until proven innocent is so diametrically opposed to everything America stands for is what makes all of these post-911 laws so dangerous.

But beyond the fact that the government is treating each and every one of us as if we are criminals and/or terrorists that they haven’t caught yet is the bigger problem: the secrecy with which these operations are carried out. “Trust us”, say the NSA, Congress, President et.al. “This is for your own protection”, they say. “We’d never abuse our authority”, they say. “We can’t show you how it works, what we do, why we do it or to whom we are doing it”, they say. “It has to be secret”, they say.

The problem with secrecy is the same problem we have with most human inventions: a little might perhaps enhance our safety, but too much can hurt us, weaken our nation, and perhaps lead to its dissolution. This whole domestic surveillance mess is made even messier by the fact that the government hid even the broad brush strokes of what they were (and still are) doing. And such information that does leak out seems to indicate that our government is acting in ways that would make Hoover blush.

This makes it very hard indeed to trust them: not only do they suspect each and every one of us of being potential Bin Ladens, but they themselves aren’t acting like honest, upstanding citizens whom we would be inclined to trust. (Remember Nixon and his “trust me” schtick, and how that turned out?)

On top of that, the degree of secrecy being employed here makes it possible for glory-hound “journalists”, “experts”, and “representatives” to make outlandish claims (e.g. Snowden, Greenwald, Issa) because we cannot verify anything they are saying. By acting thus they sow even MORE distrust among our society. The secrecy is making it impossible to trust our government, our institutions, the businesses with whom we deal, or even each other.

Secrecy kills trust. And without trust, we cannot be united. So if we can’t trust the government, we might as well just pull the plug on our country, because it can’t be a truly “United States of America”: there is no unity without trust.

Mr. Blunt and Cranky