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Estimate of the time that Humanity will go extinct or civilization will collapse. The HUMANITY DOOMSDAY CLOCK moves forward to 2125 due to US President trump's abandonment of climate change goals. Apologies to Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists for using the name.

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Balancing Security with Democracy

Barry, My Liege :

We applaud you for making public the ongoing discussion about NSA, Prism and National Security.

We can debate whether Mr. Manning and Mr. Snowden are heroes or villains, but there is no denying that they have performed a valuable service by showing us some of the dimensions of your spying and secrecy apparatus.

Among the truisms that history teaches us, My Liege, are two outstanding issues. First, Islam has been violently attacking Western civilization in an attempt to spread religious doctrine since Muhammad took the Hijra from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. Before that, the Greeks fought numerous battles with an expanding Persia including the famous Battle of Marathon in 490 BC.

Second, history teaches us that Western civilization has won most of these battles largely because of the Western disposition toward democracy and open societies. When placed in conflict with tyrannical forces, a counter force composed of armies from open societies has won the day in most cases.

These two issues collide in today's battle against violent Islam. We recognize, My Liege, that the Commander In Chief requires secrecy when going into battle. At the same time, we also know that if that desire for secrecy overpowers our openness and democratic principles, then we will be weaker in the face of an attack.

Those open principles require that our population has extensive knowledge of the government actions you take to preserve our National Security.

Your job, My Liege, is to balance the need for secrecy with the equally important need for public access.

Part of the public access is to demonstrate to the public that you are subject to our laws and not above them. In other words, My Liege, we want you to protect us both militarily and politically. After all, without some iron clad assurance of due process built into the system, then the next President - who might be a Rand Paul or a Chris Christie - will have the same powers with perhaps less scruples to err on the side of open access.

And, My Liege, the public is not assured of the correctness of your choices so far. They appear to err on the side of excessive secrecy and against the side of public access.

We pray for your wisdom, My Liege.

Your faithful servant,

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