Friday, February 08, 2002

Yesterday, Warren asked that I mention any law conservatives are pushing which limits the freedoms of Americans. I came back with Ashcroft's US Patriot Act, for it's virtual revocation of the 4th Amendment. Warren said Swing...and a miss then added:

I feel secure under that Patriot Act that "unreasonable searches and seizures" will not be performed, the key word being "unreasonable" and certainly not without "probable cause." So I think the 4th Amendment is safe. Will mistakes be made? Of course. Will the odd innocent person have his e-mail searched? Yeah, okay, I'm sure. But aside from a few exceptions, will mainstream Americans' freedoms really be infringed? I don't think so.

Mind you, this is coming from a person who's fear of the government partially stems from a belief that power corrupts - those who have power, tend to abuse it. Isn't that exactly where Ashcroft's lie falls? Given expanded powers, some government officials will abuse this law. People have fought for years to build the legal status to protect privacy, and here Ashcroft is returning us to the dark ages in a matter of days. And again, this is a law that drives the far right crazy with hatred for Big Brother Government (although God Knows they'll never admit they're aligned with the left on the issue).

The question "will mainstream Americans's freedom really be infringed" is nonsense. A) What is a mainstream American? B) If you can identify them, why is protection of their rights more of a concern than non-mainstream Americans? C) So if the government enacts a law which outlaws a tiny percentage of the population, that's okay as long as the vast majority doesn't feel the burden? Isn't that something the 2% of our population who call themselves Jews should be worried about?

Demanding that I not only come up with a law, but also demonstrate it's current negative impact is tough. Bush has only been in office a bit over a year. He's spent most of that time fighting a war (well) and leading the economy into the dumper (maybe it's not his fault, but he's in front). It's way too easy to look at a law like the Patriot Act and say Well...I don't think that'll be a problem Well, sorry. I do. When the rest of the country gets over their war fog, they will too. My bet is America's great middle will revoke Ascroft's Patriot mandates when the first abuses are made known.

But let's move on to Example #2 - More civil liberties violated in the name of gettin' them terrorists. Ashcroft Seeking to Free F.B.I. to Spy on Groups

Attorney General John Ashcroft is considering a plan to relax restrictions on the F.B.I.'s spying on religious and political organizations in the United States, senior government officials said today. The proposal would loosen one of the most fundamental restrictions on the conduct of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and would be another step by the Bush administration to modify civil-liberties protections as a means of defending the country against terrorists, the senior officials said.

The attorney general's surveillance guidelines were imposed on the F.B.I. in the 1970's after the death of J. Edgar Hoover and the disclosures that the F.B.I. had run a widespread domestic surveillance program, called Cointelpro, to monitor antiwar militants, the Ku Klux Klan, the Black Panthers and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., among others, while Mr. Hoover was director...Some officials who oppose the change said the rules had largely kept the F.B.I. out of politically motivated investigations, protecting the bureau from embarrassment and lawsuits.

That's right - the US government, basking in nostalgia, is moving back to the good old Nixon days and reintroducing a Hoover-era program - Cointelpro. Last time out, Cointelpro was an major embarrassment for the FBI as they were used like tin soliders by Nixon's office for dirty trick political games. This is the very program that soiled the reputation of the FBI for years and years. And now it's back! Just in time for the holidays.

Maybe my fear about the re-emergence of folk music was more accurate than I thought?

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