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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Gonzales v. You

The more I read about the government pursuing Google's data in conjuction with all the rest of the junk that the Bush administration is trying to get away with, the more I'm inclined to agree that maybe it's time to start taking this a little personally.

Set aside what political affiliation you may or may not be associated with for a moment and realize that if you are reading this blog there is a decent chance that you spend a good amount of your time doing things online. Reading, writing, communicating and gaming. Netizens have always had to make a case of defending their personal and private space online, and for good reasons. We exist in a kind of liminal space out here on the net; one that borders our private lives and our public communications.

Gonzales was on NPR yesterday explaining that he felt the Bush administration was not bypassing FISA by performing domestic wiretaps because electronic surveillance is a wartime effort and Congress granted the Executive branch wartime powers for the War on Terror. Essentially he insists Bush can circumvent current laws provided they are exercised as part of standard warfare procedures. Since electronic wiretaps are common war tactics these days, Bush can do it all willy nilly like.

Just like he can detain people and probably torture them, the logic would probably follow. American citizen or not. Pushing the boundaries of the Executive power is not uncommon for the Bush administration. In fact, it's pretty much a goal. The Supreme Court has already slapped their wrist for Hamdi and also recently for trying to interfere with the Oregon Right to Die law.

And now Google. And if there were ever a portal to that liminal space we reside in as netizens, Google would have to be a main one. While the justifications vary, the end result is the same. The Bush administration wants to have have what it feels it needs, and both state and civil rights get brushed aside in the end. The Google request isn't even tied to a criminal investigation, but rather a dragnet of information to build a constitutional defense.

You probably aren't a terrorist or a child pornographer. You might not even know what COPA means. But you are possibly an American citizen (and if you're not, hello!) and a citizen of the Net. And you have rights. And maybe it's about time to write your Senator.

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Clamatius said...

The whole "War On Terror" == "War" just kills me. Should the government have effectively unlimited wartime powers for the "War On Drugs" too?

Seems to me that waging war on concepts, rather than actual concrete enemies, is an easy way for a government to scare your populace into doing what you want more-or-less indefinitely - and that's exactly what is happening.

Oh, "all necessary force" covers it? How about internment camps (Guantanamo) and imprisonment without trial (Padilla)? Still sounding good? Gas chambers are up next, I guess. I'd think I was being hysterical if they weren't already doing so much stuff that seems totally crazy.

Josh said...

War on concepts, exactly. They really want things both ways, that's for sure. They want all the "war powers" attributed to normal war time, but they also want to remind us that this is "Post 9/11" and the rules have changed.

So, if they want to declare an enemy combatant ... they will ... even though that term doesn't have nearly the same meaning as it does with a traditional battlefield. So when you keep the original concept but change it's surroundings, now anyone can be an enemy combatant.

How soon do we go from spying on terrorists because they're "against America" to spying on political enemies because they're "against the government"?

With these people, not damn long I'd guess.

Clamatius said...

I'd be more surprised if they're not already doing just that.