Good old-fashioned police work

Recently, the US and German authorities stopped a potential attack on an American military base in Germany. The Bush administration’s top spymaster, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell testified before Congress that the newly approved “Protect America Act” was in large part why they were able to stop the terrorists.

But, like other people within the Bush administration who testify before Congress, McConnell seems to have lied about the whole thing.


I feel like I’m in Alice and Wonderland

Today was a pretty important day in San Francisco. After reading Wired’s coverage of the 9th Circuit hearing on the NSA’s spying, and AT&T’s alleged complicity, I’m left hopeful that the three judges will do the right thing and let both cases move forward. Allowing the government to get away with using the state secrets argument as a shield against inquiries into how it apparently violated the Constitution opens up a Pandora’s Box of unchecked abuses against innocent citizens.

My only concern right now is that this case hasn’t gotten enough publicity in the mainstream media to cause a public outcry to force Congress to do actually do something rather then talk about it. Rather, they’ve let the talking heads of the fear-mongers run around yelling the terrorists are coming and we’re all going to die unless you let Bush, the Justice Department and the CIA/NSA have unfettered and secret access to any information they wish. You would of thought after the 1970’s where the FBI routinely spied on people like Martin Luther King, Jr., Americans would have none of this unchecked spying on it’s citizens, but it appears many have forgotten or chosen to ignore history’s lesson.

Can we really have a free democracy where those that are in power can use their position to secretly spy and obtain information on it’s people? The framers of the Constitution implemented checks and balances between the three branches of government; it’s time for the legislative and judical branches to act responsibly in the independent manner for which they were created.

UPDATE: Wired’s analysis of today’s court case.


Safety without Freedom is worthless

After reading Mortimer Zuckerman’s editorial, Putting Safety First I’m both saddened and angered. You would think that someone of Mortimer’s position would be more well versed in both the facts and history.

Considering that your chances of dying from a terrorist attack is far less then being killed by lightning, fire, drowning, murder, car accident or even an asteroid strike it’s hard to justify giving up those freedoms and rights which make us uniquely American.

Personally, I would rather listen to some of the great Americans who shaped our country then people like Zuckerman who would use the threat of terrorisim as an excuse to give away our rights of free speech, free association, due process of law, privacy and most importantly the separation of powers between the three branches of government.

People like Benjamin Franklin who said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Or as President Franklin Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself— nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Will we as a country cower in fear, squander our freedoms away for an ounce of safety or will we stand up for our unalienable rights and continue to pass on that gift to our children as our parents and grandparents gave to us?



So earlier this week I couldn’t sleep, so I read email and watched the movie Brazil. I didn’t know much about the movie before seeing it, other then it being an Orwellian look at the future and was considered to be a really good movie.

Brazil didn’t disappoint. The special effects were that of an art student film, but visually stunning never the less. What I found most interesting was how many parallels I found in todays world with the film. Clearly there is some strong social/political commentary in Brazil, specifically dealing with how the government’s use of information and of media leads to controlling it’s citizens. Additionally how people are easily manipulated with consumerism.

One of the tightest parallels however in my mind was how the gov’t in Brazil used the “Ministry of Information” and classified laws and regulations to not only keep secrets from people, but used that information against it’s own citizens- often with horrible consequences. This sounds very much like our “do not fly lists” which ordinary citizens can’t view and have no means of clearing their names off of, secret TSA regulations and the federal governments attempt at creating a large databases covering many aspects of law abiding citizens in order to ferret out possible terrorists (interestingly, the exact same reason used in Brazil) is almost too creepy.


RIAA Petitions

Currently there are two petitions going on with regards to the RIAA:

First the EFF is asking people to sign a petition to be sent to Congress to ask them to do something about the RIAA’s heavy handed tactics towards children, parents and the elderly.

The second, is the RIAA petitioning some federal judges to reduce the royalty payments they make to artists. Apparently, while they’re filing lawsuits against 12 year olds for stealing Brittney Spears from file sharing sites, the RIAA wants to lower Brittney’s royalty payments for legal downloads.

While I guess “something is better then nothing”, it sure seems rather hypocritical don’t ya think?