Greater Public Scrutiny and Transparency Promised
U.S. President Barak Obama pledges to open government surveillance programs to greater public criticism and therefore transparency. Following this announcement, we believe John Key could learn something.
The story of how we as a civilized society treat our whistle blowers and political dissenters is one that can either become an example of how we in the western world value our democracies and the principles they are founded upon, or one of a slow and methodical slide toward tyranny that we have been warned about for years and yet failed to appreciate until it was too late.
This is how historians and social commentators will analyse present events in future times, this is what were will be remembered for.
Right now, around the world in many of our most vocally "democratic" countries, France, Britain, Germany, the United States, there are forces in play which threaten the kind of open, transparent lifestyle we as kiwi's have come to take for granted.
We hear about the far reaching impact that programs like the NSA Prisim and 5 eyes programs can have, the threats to our personal privacy, the unknown and completely un-appreciated impact these programs may have on our understanding of ourselves and each other, both as nations, and as individuals. It challenges us to ask the hard questions like; "what do we really value?" , "who are we?", "what kind of world will i allow my children to inherit?"
What kind of world are we allowing our young to inherit then? For some, this brave new world is one where the threat of terrorism is ever present, a constant threat and one to monstrous that we should all necessarily be elated to part with our hard won civil liberties, freedom of speech, and personal privacy in the name of security, for others the thought of parting with these things to gain a little extra security remind us of autocratic rulers, goose steps and state worship.
I know what i want for my children's future, and their children's future. I recognise just how difficult and rare it is to happen upon a system of democratic government such as we enjoy today, and how uncommon those forms of power have been over the millennia.
So at this juncture, it would appears that our largest ally and instigator of these clandestine operations on everyday citizens, the United States, is beginning to show a modicum of restraint in its approach to surveillance.
President Obama appeared before a packed gallery of reporters and policy makers on Thursday pledging more transparency saying "given the history of abuse by governments, it's right to ask questions of surveillance." he insisted that the U.S government was not interested in surveillance of ordinary people, that great!, fantastic in fact!
John Key, you now have permission from the big boys in Washington to relax this country's own approach to increasing surveillance powers, you heard it from the horses mouth. Given recent media events, controversies and scandals, i would argue that taking a step back at this point, holding a real televised national debate on the pro's and con's of this far sweeping legislation and taking our time to get it right, or not at all, would be in our best interest as a country, not just in National's best interest.
It has become evident that the kinds of responses we can expect to hear from our elected representatives are mostly that of a well trained parrot unable to form even an inkling of independent thought, mostly based on fear and key power words in sentences like "terrorism", "weapons of mass destruction", "al Qaeda" etc.
We kiwis are a proud and intuitive bunch, and we would like to think that we do not bleat to the same tune, we need to stand up and made our opinions heard, visit our local MP's and tell them we are concerned, we have had enough, not idle back into complacency. The future character of our country depends upon it.