Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Big Brother is alive and well

A fun Doonesbury from last Sunday. And it rings especially true after this weekend.

It appears Big Brother is watching us all, and he's using 9/11 as an excuse.

Perhaps you've heard: the president has been illegally spying on Americans since 2002. It came out before the weekend in the New York Times, and people are talking.

The Bush folks are claiming the Congress's approval of the use of force against terrorists cancels all applicable laws that made this spying illegal. They also say we should trust them with the powers we have given them.

I don't know about you, but I've read my history books. And this just seems like a big mistake.

My biggest contention is that this spying, along with the we'll-find-out-what-books-you're-reading provisions of the "Patriot" Act, smakes of a bully government. Sure, they could be looking for terrorists. But they could also use these powers to spy on groups and individuals it doesn't like.

Think Nixon (one of the reasons why spy-prevention measures were put into law in the first place).

And hey, if people in government would just do their jobs, most terrorist could be thwarted. You don't need extra powers to fight these maniacs. Look at the Millenium Bombing in L.A. Someone at a border check noticed something suspicious, and the whole terrorist plot was capsized. Too often someone falls asleep at the switch, and *boom* we have a disaster.

We have more to fear from the disease of ineptitude than any bird flu pandemic.

Most of the spying Bush wanted to do could've been made legal by a quick warrant and a handshake anyway. But, as is often the case with this administration, laws are sidestepped when they're deemed a nuisance. King George does what he wants. And this is a guy who supposedly supports the rule of law.

How it's supposed to happen: you don't like a law? Change it.

How it really happens: you don't like a law? Ignore it, and hope that no one finds out.

Thank goodness for the New York Times. They've shown the value of an independent and free press, one who is really a watchdog against governmental extremes and abuses. In all of this, the Times coverage is the only example of how the system is supposed to work. No wonder Jefferson said he'd rather have a free press than government.

And there's no need for a slippery-slope argument here (one contending that, if Bush could ignore a law against spying, he could possibly ignore laws against torture, murder, or even reading his neighbor's mail). The argument against this type of activity can be abbreviated to one name:


I don't trust this administration - or any administration - to use extra wartime powers responsibly. Power does funny things to people's sense of fairness and justice, and especially right and wrong.

And we're watching it happen every day.

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