Representative government

Better thinkers and writers than I have tackled Bill Keller’s letter to the public justifying his blithe release of security secrets. One thing he wrote, though, stuck in my mind, and I haven’t read anyone yet who has commented on this point:

It’s not our job to pass judgment on whether this program is legal or effective, but the story cites strong arguments from proponents that this is the case. While some experts familiar with the program have doubts about its legality, which has never been tested in the courts, and while some bank officials worry that a temporary program has taken on an air of permanence, we cited considerable evidence that the program helps catch and prosecute financers of terror, and we have not identified any serious abuses of privacy so far. A reasonable person, informed about this program, might well decide to applaud it. That said, we hesitate to preempt the role of legislators and courts, and ultimately the electorate, which cannot consider a program if they don’t know about it. [Emphasis mine.]

Is it possible that Bill Keller is unaware that we’re a representative Democracy, not a direct Democracy? That is, under our system of government as envisioned by the Founders, we do not function as a Townhall where every single one of us gets to weigh in on each government initiative. The fact that our representatives — Congress — got to hear about and pass on this program is sufficient. There is no reason to tell us about a top secret, legal, program to “follow the money” and, given the security concerns, every reason not to tell us about it.

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  • JJ

    Yes, it’s entirely possible he doesn’t know what kind of government we have. In fact, it’s likely.

  • Kevin B.

    Contrary to what one might think, socialists/liberals prefer a purely democratic system, because mob rule is easier to manipulate than a representative-based democratic republic.

    Particularly when one has at their disposal a giant club of a multi-million-dollar media outlet to weild upon the heads of that “democratic” mob.

  • zhombre

    I could care less about Keller’s views of democracy. He admits this program was effective, and was not abused, and despite entreaties of the government not to divulge its existence and call attention to the program, for fear of compromising its effectiveness and hence compromising U.S. security, the NYT goes ahead and publishes this piece. Keller is a bastard, a pompous one too, and the New York Times can go to hell.

  • ExPreacherMan


    Great observation!

    Looks like Keller was educated in our public schools — or Harvard… and really does not know how a Representative Republic operates. (Or more likely, doesn’t care).

    Your observation on this point is sharp!!

    However this whole mess is a sad, sad commentary on our media — most of it.


  • Ymarsakar

    The new world order is not a representative democracy, and as my AP US Civics teacher always reminded us, we’re a representative democracy, not a democracy. Don’t hear that up at those Journaleeism Schools you know.

    The Democrats have been using the word “democracy” for so long, they’ve started to believe that their name is a recognition that they and only they are the representatives of true democracy, every one else is offering a less pure version.

  • Deana

    Bookworm –

    I thought the exact same thing. (And have been thrilled at the insight that so many others have brought to the table in this discussion across the blogosphere. Really fascinating!)

    So where, exactly, would Keller and others draw the line? His last statement, “. . . we hesitate to preempt the role of legislators and courts, and ultimately the electorate, which cannot consider a program if they don’t know about it” astounds me. Is there any program, any effort, any piece of information vital not only to our national security but the safety and well being of others around the world, that they would withold?

    And if there is, I would love to know on what basis they make that decision.

  • Ymarsakar

    I’d like to know about Dan Rather’s career investigation details, but the media said we don’t have the need to know since everything would be conducted “in house”. Right.

    The NYTimes said the same about Jason Blair. It’s all in the family, you know. People don’t need to know who hired Blair and for what reasons, they don’t even need to know the names of who hired Blair in the first place. The hypocrisy, I suppose, is annoying. But it’s getting more than annoying, it’s getting a bit dangerous.

  • jg

    ExP is right. You make a very apt point, Bookworm. Thanks.

  • anna27

    Great post, Book. The NYT is completely irresponsible and could care less about the safety of this country!

  • ExPreacherMan

    Ymarsakar is right…

    Even Conservatives throw out the words “We fight for a ‘democratic’ government in XYZ country.”

    The Libs smile with glee when they hear that!!


  • Ymarsakar

    As we see with Haditha, it doesn’t matter if you ex post facto clear up the situation with evidence. The damage is done. In terms of information wars, propaganda wars, and the war of words and semantics, he who attacks first also attacks last for the advantage does indeed lie with the aggressor.

  • Earl

    “we hesitate to preempt the role of legislators and courts”

    Just what is he talking about. The legislators and the courts KNEW about the program and kept their knowledge quiet.

    The NYT did precisely what this jackass says they “hesitate” to do — they preempted the role of all three branches of government, despite being asked not to with good national security reasons given.

    If this action violates laws against aiding and abetting the enemy, and working against the U.S. of A., then leakers, reporters and editors should face the music and pay the piper.