Many Democrats trusted President Obama with the vast surveillance powers inherited from President George W. Bush, but now the failure to curtail those powers means they pass on to Donald Trump, notes Nat Parry.
By Nat Parry
As the Electoral College gathers across the country on Monday to cast ballots for the 45th president of the United States – and the reality of a Trump administration draws closer – an overriding concern (beyond the questionable appointments of oil executives, billionaires and bankers to top cabinet posts) is what the Trump presidency might mean in terms of civil liberties, individual privacy and human rights.
For those who once dismissed the idea that there was anything particularly worrying about the mass surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency under the Bush and Obama administrations, as whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations confirmed more than three years ago, the fact that Donald J. Trump will now be inheriting these sweeping powers might put things into perspective. The same could be said about arbitrary detention, “enhanced interrogation” and assassinations.
With an incoming president who is reportedly compiling an “enemies list” in order to keep track of those who have shown a perceived lack of loyalty or disrespect – not to mention someone who compulsively takes to social media to denounce those seen as slighting or insulting him – perhaps now it is a bit more clear why allowing limitless government powers over individual privacy and other fundamental rights might not be such a good idea after all.
There is some irony, to say the least, that while Washington is now up in arms about the Russian government allegedly hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee, these same capabilities are now being freely handed over to Trump, who has stated that he wants surveillance of mosques and has spoken about how much he would like to have the power to hack the emails of his political opponents. “Honestly, I wish I had that power,” he said. “I’d love to have that…