- How Technology Can Substitute for Police Investigation
- People Who Live in Glass Houses...
People Who Live in Glass Houses...
I make no apologies, after everything that has transpired, for my agreement with the majority. It has historically been the sanctity of the homewhether freedom from quartering of soldiers, or freedom to grow weed until the police investigate sufficiently to make an arrestthat has provided the backbone of the free society we've built.
This freedom, however, is in serious danger. In spite of the important but politically fanciful decision in this case, the times have changed.
Enter John Ashcroft. In spite of the evidence that the attacks on September 11, 2001 were due to an unbelievable collapse in interagency communication and not excessive freedoms afforded the American people, the Attorney General leapt to the fore in demanding newer and better tools for combating "terrorism."
In case anyone has lost their short-term memory in light of the fall of the World Trade Center, the Justice Department, the FBI, and the CIA have been willing to brand threats of all stripes and magnitudes as terrorist actions. This includes all hackingnot just that of government installations. While the interruption of service at Yahoo! and CNN.com was serious, the assertion that it was a terrorist action now seems laughable. Kevin Mitnick was still considered to be one of the most dangerous terrorists alive (though armed only with a cell phone), and he hasn't even so much as a profit to show for his actions.
Back in the fifties and sixties, Hoover used very similar language about threats to national security to justify spying on U.S. citizens involved in antiwar protests, civil rights organizations, and even prominent writers.
When the language of the administration's proposed "modifications" of law enforcement authority is examined, the scene is even more bleak. In a literal reading, merely expressing an opinion in opposition to American foreign policy could result in investigation by the FBIwithout any crime being committed. In the case of any foreign national making such statements, it could result in deportation or, worse, imprisonment for an indefinite period of time.
There is no question that the events of late have rocked us all, and my sympathies and condolences could not possibly extend far enough to those directly hurt by the terrorists' actions. We, as a people, must respond with the vigilance required for sustaining our freedom. We must awaken from our dreamy doldrums of success and prosperity and realize that the best protection is to know our neighbors.
But we must not succumb to the disgusting scare tactics employed by the Attorney General. His statements have been at best inappropriate and at worst self-serving and opportunistic. The only escape is to grow out of this tragedy, not to shrink from the threat.
To submit and withdraw is to lose the daring spirit that the rest of the world envies and despises, and I'm not ready to let that go.