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    « A Beer for John Kerry | Main | Ten More Things You Can Learn Online (3) »

    November 03, 2004

    Comments

    Vidiot

    Heh, when I get on a tear, there's no stopping me.

    And please continue to both read and comment -- we may agree on some things and disagree on others, but you're a principled, thoughtful voice.

    lex icon

    Congratulations. You win the prize for longest comment I've ever seen. As soon as I figure out what to give, you'll get it. In the meantime, I'll continue to pay attention to your blog with my usual mixture of agreement and disagreement, and will comment from time to time there, as well.

    Vidiot

    Okay, I was pretty pissed when I wrote that about the "politics of hate", and I can see how it was disrespectful. But I can genuinely, honestly see how many Bush Administration policies are hateful...far from the "compassion" they espouse. And I consider some policies -- such as the call for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage -- as downright bigoted.

    I do not agree that the Bush posse is going to examine my financial records, search my home or prevent me from flying (actually, my name shows up on the no-fly list; it's a pain in the ass) "based on what books I read, what websites I visit, or with whom I associate."

    Well, if you're on the no-fly list, you already know that you are being denied boarding or singled out for extra, intrusive searching. You don't know what criteria put you on there, or if there's a mistake in the names. There's no judicial oversight of this process, nor can you appeal your placement on it, and there's no way you can clear your name.

    If you stayed in a Las Vegas hotel or flew to or from there during the holiday season last year, the government already has your financial records.

    Section 374 of the Intelligence Authorization Act:

    lets the FBI acquire these records through an administrative procedure whereby an FBI field agent simply drafts a so-called national security letter stating the information is relevant to a national security investigation.
    And the law broadens the definition of "financial institution" to include such businesses as insurance companies, travel agencies, real estate agents, stockbrokers, the U.S. Postal Service and even jewelry stores, casinos and car dealerships.

    The law also prohibits subpoenaed businesses from revealing to anyone, including customers who may be under investigation, that the government has requested records of their transactions.

    (Those quotes from a Wired News article about the law.)

    And the Patriot Act is responsible for the rest. Now, I think that there are some very reasonable sections of the Patriot Act, but there are also sections which are unconstitutional and abrogate our civil liberties.

    Section 215 of the Patriot Act, according to the ACLU's analysis and FAQ:

    allows the FBI to force anyone at all - including doctors, libraries, bookstores, universities, and Internet service providers - to turn over records on their clients or customers.

    The result is unchecked government power to rifle through individuals' financial records, medical histories, Internet usage, bookstore purchases, library usage, travel patterns, or any other activity that leaves a record. Making matters worse:

    --The government no longer has to show evidence that the subjects of search orders are an "agent of a foreign power," a requirement that previously protected Americans against abuse of this authority.

    --The FBI does not even have to show a reasonable suspicion that the records are related to criminal activity, much less the requirement for "probable cause" that is listed in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. All the government needs to do is make the broad assertion that the request is related to an ongoing terrorism or foreign intelligence investigation.

    --Judicial oversight of these new powers is essentially non-existent. The government must only certify to a judge - with no need for evidence or proof - that such a search meets the statute's broad criteria, and the judge does not even have the authority to reject the application.

    --Surveillance orders can be based in part on a person's First Amendment activities, such as the books they read, the Web sites they visit, or a letter to the editor they have written.

    --A person or organization forced to turn over records is prohibited from disclosing the search to anyone. As a result of this gag order, the subjects of surveillance never even find out that their personal records have been examined by the government. That undercuts an important check and balance on this power: the ability of individuals to challenge illegitimate searches.

    Furthermore, the "Domestic Security Enhancement Act", or "Patriot Act 2", is proposed legislation. It would add to the sweeping powers that the executive branch is claiming for itself. It would extend the definition of "domestic terrorism" to include civil disobedience. It would remove restrictions on (and court review of -- forget this "checks-and-balances" stuff) surveillance of religious and political activity. It would allow the government to deport immigrants, including legal ones with permanent residency, on the mere suspicion of risk to national security. Without a hearing or any other kind of due process.

    Do I trust them to exercise this power wisely and fairly, on their own say-so? About as far as I can throw John Ashcroft.

    lex icon

    I was perhaps overstated. I said that the left had bitterness and disrespect. What I should have said was that many were bitter, while the others were disrespectful. Many of your comments fall into the category of legitimate debate or criticism. But that quote I pulled from you is quite bitter, and it fell right below the cliche and unfair description of a vote for Bush being "the politics of hate", as opposed to the "politics of hope." Which, arguably, is disrespectful, in the much same way that death, arguably, is the end of being alive.

    I do not agree that the Bush posse is going to examine my financial records, search my home or prevent me from flying (actually, my name shows up on the no-fly list; it's a pain in the ass) "based on what books I read, what websites I visit, or with whom I associate."

    Feel free to prove me wrong, and not just by showing me that the government has looked closely at angry young vocal male muslims of Saudi ancestry who read books, visit websites or associate with other angry young vocal male muslims of Saudi ancestry.

    Vidiot

    I see you quoted one of mine. (I was the "you have affirmed a government. . ." guy.)

    I don't see how this is bitterness, nor do I see how it's disrespect. It's the truth; I can dig up citations if you like.

    I won't hide that I am deeply disappointed in the outcome of the election, and that I think it certainly doesn't bode well for our country's democratic system. And I think I've demonstrated what I like to think is a sense of humor, thanks. After all, I laugh at our President quite often.

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