COMMENTARY: Government Mulling Database that can Monitor Internet Acitvity and any E-mails.

In dissent, war on terror on January 14, 2008 by Editor Z

Now this sounds Orwellian. What ever happened to the America in which I grew up? I guess that the U.S Constitution, civil liberties, and the enshrined rights of the people of this great land not to be preyed on by a government looking over their shoulders, were swept away.

National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell is drawing up plans for cyberspace spying that will make the current debate on warantless wiretaps look like “a walk in the park”, according to an interview in the New Yorker’s print edition today.

Debate on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act “will be a walk in the park compared to this,” McConnell said “this is going to be a goat rope on the hill. My prediction is that were going to screw around until something horrendous happens.”

This all sounds unbelievable and I hope it is either false or hyperbolic. This has implications that could be both historic and severe. This would runs contrary to everything America has stood for. All that has been harvested through the bloodshed of past sacrifices, the toil of bold thought, and daring action, will fall victim to a drought in which the fruits of our national principles will fall victim. We must remember, that even when under fire by enemies, that civil liberties, such as privacy and freedom of speech as well as the basic principle of protection against unwarranted search and seizure by the government, aren’t liabilities. They are not onerous excess baggage to be discarded in haste. They are our armor. Our identity. Every bit as much of our identity as our national flag. It is not worth desecrating our history and heritage,dishonoring the past sacrifices of those in lands as close as Lexington, and as far from our shores as Normandy and Kabul, without contemplating the plausible consequences. We can’t cannibalize ourselves nationally, in order avoid having those same things devoured by foreign terrorists.

The President has talked much and preached the gospels of democracy and freedom abroad.But he should heed the words of Edward R Murrow, the famous CBS anchorman who in the mid 1950s spoke out in the national fever of “McCarthyism”, “We Cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.” But by increasing the power of the government to monitor its citizens, he sets a precedent. The next administration may decide to take things further. As will future administrations, until gradually the people and heritage of this land find ourselves waking from our collective sleep, alive but stripped of everything else.

Many say that our liberties emanate from the hand of God and not from mortal man. But remember in the past, whether it be the result of bad intentions and malice, or good intentions gone awry, the powerful have dealt serious blows to the rights of men and women.

And where is the media on this? The central tenant of the press in America is to monitor those in power and protect their rights against the excesses and potential abuses of the government. So forget the personal turmoil of Britney Spears and pay attention to stories such as these or we will not have an America worth handing to future generations.

I am not advocating surrender to the hostile forces of Al-Queda or their handmaidens. Just advocating that we be mindful of how far we want to go and be both vigilant and reasonable.



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