Thursday, July 25, 2013
For those who cynically believe that our elected officials are hopelessly divided by party and generally focused on materialistic concerns that fail to consider higher ideals, yesterday's vote in the House of Representatives to restrain surveillance of Americans by the National Security Agency is an example of the best in political deliberation and courage.
As the New York Times reports (the whole article is available here):
The 205-to-217 vote was far closer than expected and came after a brief but impassioned debate over citizens’ right to privacy and the steps the government must take to protect national security. It was a rare instance in which a classified intelligence program was openly discussed on the House floor, and disagreements over the program led to some unusual coalitions.
Conservative Republicans leery of what they see as Obama administration abuses of power teamed up with liberal Democrats long opposed to intrusive intelligence programs. The Obama administration made common cause with the House Republican leadership to try to block it.
I've blogged previously here at Mirror of Justice about why we should be gravely concerned about our government collecting massive amounts of information, from which government agents could assemble a detailed dossier on a person, thus effectively treating all of us as future criminal suspects. Catholic teaching affirms the moral weight of privacy and confidentiality, as a matter of respect for human dignity.
Although the political leadership of both parties -- from President Obama to House Speaker Boehner -- would prefer that we simply fall in line and accept that the NSA's sweeping surveillance is good for us, the vote in the House shows that a growing number of our representatives, responding to a growing number of Americans, are demanding a thorough examination and a full-fledged debate. We will hear more in the future.