Secret Spying by the Government Means “No Standing, for You!”

Civil rights advocates have long-known that the federal government had a secret spy program in place. Matt Sledge from HuffingtonPost reports, “Journalists and human rights advocates worried they are being swept up in an electronic dragnet cannot challenge the U.S. government’s secretive warrantless wiretapping program.” On March 12, the US Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling in the case of Clapper v. Amnesty International USA that the plaintiffs lacked legal standing.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his opinion, the plaintiffs’ argument that they have the standing to challenge the program was based on a “highly speculative fear.” He also wrote they “have no actual knowledge of the Government’s … targeting practices,” and “can only speculate as to how the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence will exercise their discretion in determining which communications to target.”

Jim Babka & Perry Willis from DownsizeDC explain that the Court made it’s decision “[b]ecause there is no evidence that the federal ‘government’ has directed such spying at the plaintiffs.” However, “The State asked for the power to do this kind of spying and to be allowed to keep it secret, therefore… we can assume that The State is doing this kind of spying, but… because the spying is a secret, the Court feels the plaintiffs lack specific cause or evidence for complaint.”

This is just one more case in which the government has given itself immunity from accountability. Babka & Willis conclude, “The State has just taken another step to establish its own illegitimacy. The Court here adds to the evidence that new forms of government should be erected. We continue to prefer reform, but we will add this latest abuse and usurpation to a case for the institution of new government.”

I don’t necessarily agree that there should be a new government instituted, at least not at the federal level. I would much prefer the federal government to simply vanish; then the people of each of the 50 States, 4 organized territories, 2 inhabited unorganized territories, and the Native Americans living in the 310 reservations would be able to decide for themselves what form of government they wish to have. I would further like to see jurisdictions that are no longer tied to geography, whereby each individual or family would be able to grant or withdraw consent from a particular “government” while not affecting the governmental choice of their neighbors. Such systems have existed in the past. In Medina during the time of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, “Pagans, Jews, and Muslims shared the same roads, traded in the same markets, and drank from the same wells. They were part of different social spheres, sharing no obligations to each other except those they contracted. Legal systems were not separated by territorial boundaries, as States are today. They existed right on top of one another, shifting according to consent, not jurisdiction.” Similar overlapping governments existed in Gaelic areas during the middle ages, and to a lesser extent in the United States before the New Deal when most people received social services from fraternal organizations or mutual aid societies. I believe these systems of overlapping governments could flourish in the near future due primarily to the advances in technology over the last 500 years.