Monday, November 12, 2007

Rethinking Privacy

Donald Kerr, the principal deputy director of national intelligence, says that Americans need to redefine privacy. He wants Americans to give up any claim to a right of anonymity (or keeping information about oneself out of the hands of others), and focus only on secure communications (having others not misuse the information they do have).

MSNBC: Intelligence Deputy to America: Rethink Privacy

The issue focuses on reports that the government has set up stations around the country that store every electronic communication - voice, email, web site access - on super computers that the government can then use to sniff out evidence of wrongdoing.

The problem comes when one asked, "What is wrongdoing?"

Humans have not changed. Political leaders tend to arrogantly presume that anybody who says anything that they do not like is guilty of 'wrongdoig'. Nixon went to his grave thinking that he did nothing wrong, that the wrongdoing was done by those who dared to challenge his authority.

Vice President Cheney and Karl Rove apparently think the same way.

Somewhere in this country there is a political tyrant just waiting to get his hands on the ability to sniff through a stack of emails and phone calls, culling those who would dare contest his reign.

Of course, he will convince himself that this is all for the public good.

When Hitler went into his bunker in Berlin to kill himself, one of the last things he said was, "The German people do not deserve me."

Because these arrogant tyrants cannot conceive of themselves as doing something wrong, it is a huge mistake to trust them to conceive of certain uses of this information as wrong. There is no limit to the barbaric acts that a would-be tyrant can conceive of as being "necessary for national security."

Look at the rhetoric this administration put forth.

"If you are not with us, then you are against us."

"You are either with us, or you are with the terrorist."

The term 'traitor' was launched at anybody and everybody who dared to question what the Administration was doing.

This is exactly the rhetoric that some future American Fuhrer will use to sniff through these emails and phone conversations for sign of 'subversives' who can then be rounded up, thrown in jail, held without charges and tried on secret evidence, tortured for information on what other 'subversives' are doing, merely because the President (and the President alone - with no checks and balances) has declared them "a threat to national security."

Who can then challenge such a person. As soon as they send an email or make a phone call to protest the actions of the Aerican Fuhrer, then they too will end up in one of these 'detention centers' for 'special interrogation'.

Americans had better think again about giving one branch of government alone, and the goons that the person who holds that branch might surround himself with, unlimited access to all of one's communications, with no oversight - no checks or balances. Giving a group that kind of power is quite literally the same as selling our children or grandchildren into slavery.

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