Reasonable Paranoia

Robert Reich has started his own blog recently (hey, all the kool kids do it!), and glancing through it, I found this intriguing tidbit. Is Mr. Reich listening in on my phone conversations? Because I had this same thought, well nearly. I haven't yet been a former cabinet official. Other than that minor detail though....

Robert Reich: Reasonable Paranoia I was on the phone this morning with my best friend, talking about everything close friends talk about -- from personal matters to Bush's idiocy -- when I suddenly had the first real paranoid thought I've ever had. Suppose the FBI or CIA was listening in? Bush is now spying on Americans without a warrant and without any court-approved review. Why wouldn't I be someone who'd be spied on? I mean, I'm a former cabinet official in a Democratic administration, right? I'm a pretty outspoken critic of this administration, right?

In this particular phone conversation I had told my friend Bush is a dangerous fascist asshole. I'd been talking about the insanity of the Iraqi War and the likelihood that the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld troika will bomb Iran. Our conversation then shifted to personal matters. I spoke about some really private stuff concerning my family.

Now here's where the paranoia crept in: Bush now says he has the right to take any information he gets from the FBI and CIA and make it public in the interest of “national security.” He claims the right to do what he did to the former State Department official Joe Wilson in an an attempt to discredit Wilson's war criticism by leaking the name of Wilson's CIA agent wife. So he obviously believes he has the constitutional right to leak to the media whatever his spies overhear of a private conversation if the leak helps his so-called War Against Terrorism.

Do you follow the trail of my sudden paranoia? Was it possible that the really personal stuff I told my friend about my family would be leaked to the media in retribution for all the public criticisms I've leveled against this administration? Was it possible that I could be threatened with such a leak if I don't keep my mouth shut in the future?
And the mere possibility, even though remote, sent a chill up my spine. It won't make me more cautious about what I tell my friends on the phone in private and it won't make me more cautious about my public criticisms of this administration in the media. At least not consciously. Yet the fact that I had this fleeting paranoid fantasy itself alarmed me. Intimidation can be very subtle. It can catch people unaware. It is how fascism begins and how democracy erodes.

(I added a few paragraph breaks, because that's my right as an 'Murican!

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on May 2, 2006 12:57 PM.

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