Glenn Greenwald on the government's practice of seizing the property of journalists and others on the excuse that they're crossing a border:
If you’re not somebody who films the devastation wrought by the U.S. on the countries it attacks, or provides insight into the Iraqi resistance and bin Laden loyalists in Yemen, or documents expanding NSA activities on U.S. soil, then perhaps you’re unlikely to be subjected to such abuses and therefore perhaps unlikely to care much. As is true for all states that expand and abuse their own powers, that’s what the U.S. Government counts on: that it is sending the message that none of this will affect you as long as you avoid posing any meaningful challenges to what they do. In other words: you can avoid being targeted if you passively acquiesce to what they do and refrain from interfering in it. That’s precisely what makes it so pernicious, and why it’s so compelling to find a way to rein it in.And a few words from the past:
The people of the U.S. owe their independence & liberty to the wisdom of descrying in the minute tax of 3 pence on tea, the magnitude of the evil comprised in the precedent. Let them exert the same wisdom in watching against every evil lurking under plausible disguises, and growing up from small beginnings.
Any who act as if freedom's defenses are to be found in suppression and suspicion and fear confess a doctrine that is alien to America.
—Dwight D. Eisenhower
What happened was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to be governed by surprise, to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believe that the situation was so complicated that the governmnt had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security.
—Milton Stanford Mayer (They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-35)
Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself.
—Justice Louis D. Brandeis, 1929
I fear you do not fully comprehend the danger of abridging the liberties of the people. Nothing but the very sternest necessity can ever justify it. A government had better go to the very extreme of toleration, than to do aught that could be construed into an interference with, or to jeopardize in any degree, the common rights of its citizens.