Sunday, May 14, 2006

Why illegal NSA taps on Americans must be opposed

I'm shocked to hear that 2/3 of Americans don't mind if their phones are tapped illegally in the fight against terrorism. Let me give you some reasons why you should absolutely care.

1. Any time we say the law doesn't matter, we slide towards dictatorship.

2. There are legal ways for the government to obtain permission to tap anyone's phone. That legal method, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). FISA came about in the wake of the Church and Pike Committee investigations of the intelligence agencies in the 1970s, where the CIA and FBI were found to be spying on Americans because they represented a political threat to their interests, not a physical threat to Americans. We can't go back to the pre-FISA lack of oversight, as that led to egregious abuses to people's privacy.

3. Your phone calls can and will be used against you. If you think that, just because you are a law-abiding citizen you have nothing to fear, think again. If your politics don't exactly match those of the president, you could be targeted for harassment, or have your vote selectively erased, or have your taxes selectively audited because when you allow unmonitored, unpermissioned surveillance, you're basically unlocking the door to the henhouse in front of the fox.

4. What would you say if you found out the White House had monitored Kerry's phone conversations in order to best defeat him in the last election? That's what this is about. I don't know if that happened. I simply know it could have happened. No one would have given Bush the legal authority to tap a political opponent. But since the Bush administration claims the law doesn't apply to them, what's to stop them? Absolutely power corrupts absolutely.

5. See the film V for Vendetta to understand the type of society we are becoming when we allow the party in power to break the law in the name of protecting our security.

6. The parallels between the acts of the Bush administration and Nazi Germany are frightening. People there were persuaded to give up their freedoms for security, protection against their version of the war on terror, which became a war on Communism. When more and more labor was needed to support the machine of perpetual war, the Jews became the sacrifice that Germany was willing to pay to support its empire. Jews were imprisoned and used as slave labor in concentration camps. In V for Vendetta, homosexuals and Muslims were the sacrificial lambs. What would it be in America? Aren't liberals the most undersirable people to the ruling elite? You have more to fear from your own government than you have to fear from terrorists when the government is given unaccountable power. In the film, V takes over the emergency broadcast system to invite the people of London to wake up:
...the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance, and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, think, and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillence coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the [ruling leader]. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.
We don't have a V. But we have a nearly parallel society to the one that created him (see the film for the reference.)

That's what Bush wants of you now. Your silent consent. In return, he offers you peace. But what kind of peace? A prison cell offers peace, safety, and security. But is that where you'd want to live?

Wake up, people.

As the wise Benjamin Franklin warned us, "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."


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