Americans Are Okay With Surveillance and Torture

In the face of damning evidence against U.S. officials, the country has shrugged.

Justin Mezzell

Yes, u.s. officials tortured prisoners; yes, they spied on the private communications of tens of millions of innocent Americans. The definitive accounts of these transgressions were released last year. You may have missed them.

As in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, official investigations probed for executive-branch excesses and found them in spades. The Senate produced more than 6,700 pages on brutal, illegal CIA interrogations. And the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an executive-branch agency, found that the National Security Agency’s phone dragnet “lacks a viable legal foundation” and “implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments” while doing little to keep us safe.

But unlike Watergate, no one resigned in disgrace, let alone went to jail. The nation shrugged and moved on. Whistle-blowers who spoke out about the government’s torture and mass-surveillance programs have been punished more harshly than torturers and domestic spies have been.

The war on terror has changed us.