ìYou cannot preserve freedom by eliminating it." -- Perry Metzger, President of Wasabi Systems in New York City. Our compassion and our patriotism has been stirred by the terrible events of last week. I have never been so proud to be a New Yorker and I have never seen America, and the world, come together as one people like we have for this crisis. President Bush has been speaking out very strongly that we are preparing for war. There are many battles in a war, however, and one of them is already being fought. This battle is fought with paper, in the middle of the night, and the citizens of this country need to be aware of what is happening. If I may, a word of caution to my brothers and sisters.
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
We must not let the liberty which so many have given their lives to protect for so many years be taken from us in the name of an impossible attempt to somehow make America invulnerable to crimes like the inhuman atrocities committed on September 11th. A free society will always be a target for attacks by cowards. The even more frightening alternative is a police state in New York City, and America, where our movements are restricted, our identification constantly checked, our bodies "poked and prodded" and our every word ñ whether written in a letter, e-mail, or instant message, or spoken in a phone call or even on the streets - subject to constant surveillance by computers running software thousands of times more accurate and invasive than human eyes and ears. Who will watch the watchers? If we let the United States become an armed fortress where we are always looking over our shoulders in fear then the terrorists will have succeeded in destroying the country I am so proud to be a citizen of today.
Slow down. Ask questions. Speak your mind - because we are allowed to do that here - especially about the activities of our government officials who have been meeting late at night and hastily passing scary pieces of legislation. This from an article in todayís New York Times:
ìUnder the proposal outlined by [Attorney General John] Ashcroft today, law enforcement agents could ask a secret court to allow them to monitor whatever telephone or computer terminal is used by suspect.î (emphasis added)
A secret court? Whatís next? Hooded judges? Who will watch the watchers? Ashcroft also wants to make it easier for the Justice Department to detain and deport people and also wants to completely abolish all statutes of limitations on crimes committed in connection with terrorist acts. What does that mean?
I donít know if you were paying attention, but last Thursday an extremely vaguely-worded bill was tacked on to a previously debated spending bill that effectively gave the FBI unrestricted power to monitor any and all internet communications using their formerly-secret Carnivore system. You can read about Carnivore and the text of the Combating Terrorism Act of 2001 using the links I have posted below. Please join with me in writing letters to our Senators and Congress people urging them to stop Americaís rapid acceleration towards a police state much more frightening in scope than any terrorist network. Secret courts? Laws against the use of cryptography? Constant electronic surveillance? Face recognition software? Video cameras on every intersection? More power to detain suspects without charging them with a crime? No statute of limitations? Vague definitions of the term ìterroristî in $40-billion dollar anti-terrorism laws that lawmakers had all of 30 minutes to read before the vote? This is not the stuff of paranoid conspiracy theorists. This is reality. Not tomorrow, today.
"History teaches that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure." - Justice Thurgood Marshall (1989)
The terrorist threat pales in comparison to the danger we face from the sweeping and unconstitutional anti-terrorism powers now being given to huge government agencies run by officials who we do not elect. I do not believe there really is a vast support network for those responsible for the terrorist acts of September 11. Box-cutters, business-class tickets and pilot licenses are not exactly the high-tech tools of James Bond movies. They had money and they were directed to act by a very smart person or group of people but we need to accept the reality of the situation. The terrorists who attacked us last week are dead. Most security experts agree that the anti-terrorism measures now being put into place will not bring us any closer to finding those who masterminded the attack. And those same experts are alarmed by recent developments in congress. They know how powerful their security systems really are.
Today we are free but we are in for the fight of our lives. The outcome of this battle will determine if our children can move, speak and associate freely on this planet or if they will live in constant fear, watched at every turn by a government with obscene powers. A government that can silence critics with one word: Terrorist. Now is the time to speak out. Please use the links below and make your voice heard. Today .
"Frisking everyone on the planet to find the one person with the weapon is a high-cost, low-yield way to go. That's a fair analogy to searching through everyone's e-mail. Not only do such schemes threaten civil liberties, they are such scattershot approaches that they're bound to fail. . . . The notion that we can reorganize every aspect of civil society to protect against terrorism is fool's gold." -- Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach), Chairman of the House Select Committee on National Security.
Geeks Gather to Back Crypto : http://www.wired.com/news/privacy/0,1848,46816,00.html
Civil Liberties the Next Casualty? : http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,46784,00.html
Did Encryption Empower Terrorists? : http://msnbc.com/news/627390.asp?0sp=w12b13
Anti-Attack Feds Push Carnivore : http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,46747,00.html
Text of the Combating Terrorism Act of 2001 : http://184.108.40.206/docs/cta.091401.html
The Electronic Frontier Foundation : http://www.eff.org/
Electronic Privacy Information Center : http://www.epic.org/
Global Internet Liberty Campaign: http://www.gilc.org/
AOLís Government Guide (find your elected officials fast!) : http://webcenter.governmentguide.com/main.adp
Oppose Expanded Government Secrecy! : http://www.aclu.org/action/classified107.html
Sign a Petition to World Leaders Urging Restraint : http://home.uchicago.edu/%7Edhpicker/petition
Source: Liquid Todd (www.liquidtodd.com)