An internet junkie’s ramblings


This is just a place for me to rant about politics, society, technology, or whatever else strikes a nerve.
Don't try this at home.

It seems that the government and the mainstream media are actively avoiding the use of a simple word, illegal. Let’s take a look at the definition of illegal, just as a refresher: against the law. A longer definition is as follows: behavior that can result in either criminal sanctions, such as prison sentences or fines, or civil sanctions, such as liability or injunctions. Seems clear enough, right? The more and more illegal activity I’ve been reading about this past year or two, the more obvious it is that the word is not being used on purpose.

I noticed the trend starting when the first warrantless wiretapping scandal started. The wiretapping went counter to the foundation of FISA, which requires court approval of all such activities. Ok, then the program was illegal right? Nope, it was reported as “extrajudicial” everywhere I looked. A more recent study of the president’s excessive use of signing statements declared that the administration did not carry out the provisions “according to law.” So…then at least one person must have committed an illegal act, right? Of course not.

This past June, the CIA declassified 702 pages of “misdeeds.” By misdeeds, they mean illegal activities. The list is long and the violations are clear, but the word illegal is almost nowhere to be found. Instead, the CIA just “violated its charter for 25 years.” That has a better ring to it, doesn’t it? That same month, the FBI released an internal audit regarding the use of National Security Letters, a powerful new tool given by the PATRIOT Act. They found that 10-15 percent did not follow the required legal procedures.” Finally, someone admits they did something illegal! Wait, what’s that? It’s not illegal, those silly agents were just “non-compliant.”

Who remembers the Jack Abramoff scandal, or the partisan firing of eight U.S. attorneys? Well, good thing we have the Presidential Records Act to keep track of internal communications. These should both be easy cases. Wait, what do you mean that 88 White House aides used privately controlled RNC email accounts, and that 51 of them have been mysteriously deleted? Good thing it’s not illegal though, CNN reports that they just “skirted the law.”

Part of me hopes that this is all just a journalism necessity. That the media doesn’t want to sound like a broken record, so they have to keep inventing new ways to report more and more illegal activities. The other part of me thinks the word is being actively avoided because either they don’t want someone held accountable for their actions, or they know that no one in a position of power would be anyway. The moral of the story is that everyone needs to become active in politics, or at least understand what’s going on, in order to bring some much-needed change.

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