Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
With the utterance of those words and placement of quill to paper, by Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, so began the half life decay of his wisdom. The surveillance state we occupy today is the festering, mature result of the acts of cloying politicians and barons of power to serve their own political and financial goals by declaring themselves the protectors of law and order. The daddy state. They spread fear of isolated, and ultimately inconsequential, yet publically hyped acts of crime and terror in order to supplicate the nation at large.
It has been a singularly effective scheme.
So it began with characterization of hideous and substantive Fourth Amendment violations of fundamental search and seizure law as "mere technicalities". Soon judges and prosecutors, being elected or politically appointed officials themselves, started shading their duties, principles and morals under the law to find creative ways around Constitutional protections in order to avoid results that would be unpopular. Then the officials ran again for reelection proudly proclaiming how they protected the "law and order for the citizens" by "clamping down on criminals" and "elimianting the criminal’s use of technicalities". The more they talked the talk, the more they walked the walk. Down the slippery slope.
And that is where we find ourselves today. From Spencer S. Hsu and Carrie Johnson in today’s Washington Post:
The Justice Department has proposed a new domestic spying measure that would make it easier for state and local police to collect intelligence about Americans, share the sensitive data with federal agencies and retain it for at least 10 years.
The proposed changes would revise the federal government’s rules for police intelligence-gathering for the first time since 1993 and would apply to any of the nation’s 18,000 state and local police agencies that receive roughly $1.6 billion each year in federal grants.
Quietly unveiled late last month, the proposal is part of a flurry of domestic intelligence changes issued and planned by the Bush administration in its waning months. They include a recent executive order that guides the reorganization of federal spy agencies and a pending Justice Department overhaul of FBI procedures for gathering intelligence and investigating terrorism cases within U.S. borders. (Emphasis added)
This is sick. Quite frankly, the contours of this have been quite obvious, and even partially stated, as being on the way for a while now if you were paying attention. This is why I was foaming at the mouth when the Protect America Act (PAA) was passed a year ago, and especially when Congress voted "just to extend (renew) it for a period". Read more