Friday, January 20, 2006

AND SO IT BEGINS IN EARNEST.

The Bush Administration has gone to court to get a federal judge to force Google to turn over over a random million search records. Now, if you don't see a problem with that, I think you really, really need to reread The Constitution. Under what law can the government demand that you give them private information because they say so? Because that's what they are saying here. The Administration is saying "give us this information because we want it." "We don't know if any crime has been committed, nor whether any laws have been broken, but if you give us this information, we will find out."

Not only is it problematic that the Administration believes it has the right to demand whatever information it asks for whenever it asks for it without any Probable Cause, we have to wonder what happens should the judge rule in their favor. Right now, the Administration is telling us they are doing this to further an investigation into Internet Porn. Whatever. Next time, they will tell us they are requesting this information to stop terrorism. The time after that it will be to stop organized crime. Then to stop music piracy. Film piracy. People ordering Mao's Little Red Book on Amazon.com. Blogs who disagree with Administration policy. And finally they won't give a reason at all because they will just demand whatever information they want and we won't know why.

Couple this with the Administration's illegal wiretapping program and the provisions in the Patriot Act which allow them to find out what books you're checking out of the library, and you have to wonder at what point we stand up for our civil liberties? There's no question that the Administration believes it can do whatever it believes to be correct no matter how outside the law for whatever purpose it believes to be correct. We are on the cusp of having our civil liberties taken away.

6 years ago, if this had happened, you would have had a coalition of the left and right in the US screaming at the top of their lungs about the abuse of power and illegality of the Administration's actions. Now from the Right you have nothing. Oh, a few Right-leaning leaders have complained, but their complaints have been muted to say the least. There has been no sustained outcry. In fact, if anything, the Right has embraced these restrictions on their liberty, in many cases stating that they would gladly give up a little liberty for greater security. We could argue whether we have greater security (we don't), but that's not the point.

Free countries, ones where liberty is prized or should be prized above all, are by their very nature chaotic. Total freedom breeds chaos. That is why we have laws. But in a Free country, the laws try to be as restrained as possible. So what can you say about a society in which a group of leaders decides it is above the law and can do as it wishes? We are, I fear, descending into despotism. Perhaps not of one individual, but into a despotism of Oligarchy, where a small cadre of leaders argue that they know what is best for everyone and they will protect us from not only those who would wish to do us harm, but ourselves as well.

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