Riffed by Dr. Geek
from an idea by Vitriol


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the matrix has us

I happened to catch the new episode of the PBS series Frontline entitled Spying On The Home Front. I have to say, it scared the bejesus out of me and pissed me off at the same time. Why? Well, I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but if you've been paying attention to news stories related to the NSA wiretapping scandal, it seems like a very reasonable and likely that copies of the very bits I use to submit this entry to and the bits you, fair reader, use to display it on your web browser, have been scanned and analyzed for content by a computer run by the NSA. Is anything that I'm writing likely to trip any kind of alarm? No, but the fact that anyone in the government is even looking without my consent just makes bile rise in my throat.

This fascinating bit of television arrives on the heels of testimony of James Comey before Congress about the history of domestic spying during the last five years. It's a pretty spectacular tale. Mr. Comey was acting Attorney General in March 2004 while then Attorney General John Ashcroft (the man who lost his Senate seat to a dead man) lay in the ICU with pancreatic problems. When a Department of Justice review declared that a warrant-less wiretapping program that had been in place for 2.5 years was likely illegal, senior White House officials (including current Attorney General Alberto Gonzales) attempted to lobby John Ashcroft in his ICU hospital bed to re-authorize the wiretapping program anyway. (More about this and other nefarious doings of our government in a 6-Feb-2006 article in Newsweek here.)

The root of this whole problem is that we live in a country where our President wants to be King, at least for another year and a half. This is the "don't worry, trust us" Presidency. Unfortunately, the conduct of the war, the cleanup after Katrina, the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, the outing of Valerie Plame and on and on and on... show just how inept this government is. Do I want them to have unfettered power to monitor my every move as if I am a potential criminal? "The intent is good" say the President's allies inside the Beltway. Well, we all know about what the road to Hell is paved with, don't we?

And what is the government's justification for this abuse of liberty? According to John Yoo, this is justified because the powers of the President are virtually unfettered in time of war. My response to that statement is this: are we really at war? There is no draft, no rationing, no attempt to put the society of this country on a war footing. No, there is only an attempt to assume power and stick with an agenda that has become increasingly unpopular all out of stubbornness as much as anything else. Ultimately, we are talking about a cultural conflict in the making... not a military conflict that can be started, fought, and finished. Are we ready to have the President of the United States gradually assume near dictatorial powers over the course of decades? The Cold War lasted over 40 years. Are we ready to for the Al Quaeda War last just as long?

Until we have an open, public debate on the subject, the Matrix truly has us. Forget a large virtual reality used to service artificially intelligent computers, between the government and the security industry, it is possible to track nearly every move you make. Stop at 7-11 to get a Big Gulp? They know where you are. Make a phone call or connect to the Internet? They know where you are. Go to Vegas? They can follow your every move outside of your hotel room and public restrooms if they want to. Scary. Scary. Scary.

said drgeek on 2007-05-17 at 12:52 p.m.


The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond

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