After a week in which Osama bin Laden offered truce terms and Bush decided that Iran is not such an evil axis that the UN can’t peacefully curb its nuclear ambitions, I thought I’d take a stab at an unorthodox diplomatic solution to the “surveillance issue.” Here’s the deal: I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

I’m happy to let Dick Cheney analyze my Google records and discover that my most frequently searched terms are “Brad,” “Angelina,” and “baby,” if the NSA will data-mine his computer for the keywords: “Joseph,” “Wilson,” and “wife.” The White House can eavesdrop on my cell phone calls to my daughter, if it gives a detailed accounting of its dealings with Jack Abramoff. I don’t even mind if George Bush learns the title of the last book I checked out of the library, if the FBI will tell me when the last time W. was in a library.

If NSA spying were really an issue of security, as the all-out media assault by the Bush administration claims it to be, it should accept the deal. But it’s not. Rather this is all part of their neocon dream of an American Empire. You see, in a republic the lives of private citizens are private while the workings of public servants are public, but in an empire, Caesar’s dealings remains shrouded in secrecy while he spies on citizens looking for threats to the regime. It is up to the Congress to put a stop to this idolatry: the emperor as God, mysterious and omniscient.