Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Debate We're Not Having: National Security and Civil Liberties


It’s rather remarkable, then, that in Monday’s Obama/Romney foreign policy debate – where we heard how everything from math teacher shortages to Iranian centerfuges impact national security – there was not one word about how civil liberties might affect our national security policy.

The third party candidate debate – hosted by Larry King the night after the last Obama/Romney debate   had a much different tone, and included serious discussion about PATRIOT Act repeal, cessation of drone strikes, and the status of civil liberties under the NDAA. Remarkably – as The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf lauds – these candidates, “so ideologically diverse” agreed that “civil liberties are being trampled on by Democrats and Republicans.”

Given the robust discussion of the relationship between national security and civil liberties at the third party candidate debate, the silence in the Obama/Romney debate is even more striking.

Perhaps, the silence is an extension of David Sirota's analysis of DNC Chairwoman's Wasserman Schultz’s profession last week that she had never heard of Obama's widely reported "kill lists" (which were in the mainstream media as recently as this week) –

the predictable result of a political duopoly that so fundamentally agrees on extra-constitutional national security and civil liberties policies, that those policies are no longer permitted to be part of any “serious” national political discussion.

Do we live in an age where the major political parties consider civil liberties and national security inappropriate for serious discussion? I certainly hope not.

We, the people, must stand together and demand some serious discussion on these issues, or pretty soon, the Department of Homeland Security will roll out its new technology to scan our bodies with a molecular scanner from 164 feet away – and we won’t have even made mention of our concern.

By Kali Cohn

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