Lawmakers paved the way for corrupt spy programs: Kennedy

It is 9/11, and it's a day that resonates with unparalleled solemnity as we recall where we were when our beautiful country was attacked by vile, freedom-hating terrorists. We also pause in remembrance of those lost as the sting of certain kinds of grief never fades.

I took my children to our local Manhattan firehouse and explained to them how the bravest people in New York were taken from us on that day, as firefighters and New Yorkers gathered in comfortable reverence to commemorate and understand, and some of us just said thanks for what you do.

And then I shake my head at Congress and the three administrations who have co-opted that grief into liberty-thwarting, big-government programs and corrupt systemic spy capabilities that have arguably not made good on the trade of liberty for security.

Sept. 11 showed without a doubt Americans are, by and large, compassionate, empathetic, brave and trusting, but when we've trusted the government to just go after the bad guys and leave the rest of us alone, they haven't made good on that sacred pact.

Instead the Patriot Act gave way to the USA Freedom Act, and an obscure section nestled within allows a multitude of newly created and freshly bolstered agencies to spy, often warantlessly, on unwitting, innocent Americans. And these unintended consequences roll and grow with every passing year, even in fresh outrage as we demand to know the inner workings of the surveillance state as it shadily pries open the contents of a presidential campaign. The very lawmakers who seem shocked and peeved about federal agencies crafting phony FISA applications are the same ones who gave these agencies unprecedented power to compromise our most basic, constitutionally protected freedoms. If there's a big budget and more power involved, leave it to greedy lawmakers to create entire entities and bureaucracies in a crisis, consequences be damned.

All I know is the men and women in Shanksville and D.C. and New York whose lives were cut short are exponentially more brave than the filthy cowards who will never extinguish the American spirit, no matter how ham-fistedly her government reacts to tragedy.