Sunday, January 14, 2007

Homeland (In)Security

Cross-posted from Watching Those We Chose

We've probably all heard by now of the administration's claim of "authority" to open US Mail addressed to American citizens, without a warrant, based on the "exigent circumstances" associated with the Global War on Terra. And of course we all remember The Great NSA Wiretap Brouhaha from last year.

We now know also that both the CIA and the Defense Department are accessing our personal credit and financial files, again as part of the GWOT.

And we all know that "enemy non-combatants" can be imprisoned, virtually indefinitely, without benefit of any Constitutional rights, and can be tortured by Americans, even if the "enemy" is himself American or one of our few remaining allies.

Now comes news, via the NY Times, that the Defense Dept has also changed their internal regulations on wiretapping Americans, from certification from the Attorney General "issued under the authority of" FISA (Foreign Intelligance Surveillance Act), to "upon attorney general authorization."

This may not seem like much of a difference, but the ten deleted words now leave the DoD free to wiretap Americans without any judicial oversight whatsoever... not even the meagre oversight "provided" by the FISA court (which is, in effect, a Court of Star Chamber for the administration).

Based on the news recently, it appears the administration is concentrating its "homeland security" efforts on building power for the "unitary executive", rather than on the common good.

No one will argue the necessity of properly securing our nation, protecting our citizens and critical infrastructure, and preventing terrorist acts (and, ideally, eliminating the terrorists themselves). I've been in law enforcement and security for the past thirty years; you'll get no argument from me (or any other security professional) that we have to tighten things up, for our own protection.

BUT -- and this is a big "but" -- we cannot do so at the cost of those freedoms which made America, America.

Now that Democrats once again have a say in the workings of government, it is critical that we rein in the abuses of freedom inflicted under the guise of "homeland security." The institutionalized fascism that is the current administration must be brought to heel.

In addition to all the other goals for the 110th Congress, we must urge our Representatives (and Senators) to increase the actual security of our nation -- by hardening or removing targets, by protecting water and food supplies, by strengthening inspections of cargo containers entering our ports -- and at the same time reduce the suppression of honest dissent and the oppression of the American people under spurious claims of "executive privilege", "national security", "homeland security" and "the war on terror."

I hope to be able to present information on "the state of homeland security" -- both as it is and as it should be -- along with how our elected officials plan to balance homeland security and personal freedoms.

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