January 19, 2006

Google Search Records Targeted By Bush Administration

Posted in In the News at 10:54 am by jyesis

MercuryNews reports that the Bush administration is trying to force Google to relinquish access to search records nominally to protect children from pornography. While innocuous on the surface, this raises some troubling issues. If investigators need “to develop a factual record of how often Web users encounter online porn and how Web searches turn up material they say is ‘harmful to minors’ ,” then why don’t they perform their own searches and examine the results for such material? Knowing the current administration’s obsession with terrorism, I would not be at all surprised if the administration were to “accidentally” find information in these records that would indicate “suspect” terrorist “connections” which could be used to further chip away at the rights of Americans. We all know how reliable the “suspected connections with terrorists” definition is. USAToday reported that a four year old toddler was on the watch list because his name, “Edward Allen” is shared with another “suspect” person. If the list of “suspect connections” is so prone to error, why should we trust the administration to target “bad guys” indicated by a new information source with any more reliability? Don’t get me wrong, terrorists are scary. But we cannot let fear dictate our lives.

As Roosevelt said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Americans are in danger of relinquishing far too many of the values upon which America was founded in order to achieve the illusion of a “secure homeland”. We have seen this administration authorize domestic NSA wiretaps, subpoena library records, “detain” American citizens without due process, and more all in the name of “homeland security” which, to me, is reminiscent of the “for the fatherland” cry of prewar Germany. We must take great care not to let ourselves be blinded by banners, bugles, and slogans in an attempt to “feel safer”. Sure, we might prevent another plane from crashing, but the modus operandi of terrorists is to improvise, to adapt to their situation and find new and unique ways of wreaking havoc. The only way they can do real damage to America as a nation is by influencing our daily lives. No plane crash can do that. The lives of the victims, and their friends and family will be forever changed, but the life of the average American, while frightened and concerned, was not substantially changed by the destructive glide path of any aircraft. It was changed by the policies and regulations of our own government in response to those crashes. We are becoming weaker, not stronger, in our response to these attacks.

At one point in our history, America was seen as a shining example of a nation of “freedom” and “human rights”. Now, we preemptively invade a sovereign nation that posed a “potential” threat, we “disappear” people and export them to be tortured, we restrict the rights of our own citizens, monitor their lives, and question their every association all in the name of “freedom” and to the cry of “homeland security!”. These are not the actions of a “freedom loving American.” What happened to speech free from unwarranted government monitoring, assembly free from suspicion of “links” to a “suspect” organization, prohibition of “unreasonable” federal searches, safeguards such as due process, and all the other rights enshrined in our constitution? Why are we spreading “freedom and democracy” in other countries, but killing the same here at home? The terrorists have sown fear in the hearts of Americans. We are so terribly afraid, not only of the terrorists, but of our own people. We fear to be associated with the “enemy,” however loosely defined that may be. We fear to stand up and be an example of courage in challenging times, preferring instead to be led like sheep with a duly elected shephard keeping us “safe”. We fear most of all, to live without fear. It is expected that we be afraid. That we hunt down the “enemy” even at the cost of a few innocents. After all, the truly “innocent” will be exonerated in time. No, I forgot…..no due process. Good thing little Edward wasn’t “detained”.

Well, I guess we just have to stick our heads in the sand and hope this all blows over. The “War on Terrorism” will end just like the “War on Drugs” did. What? It didn’t? A rhetorical oversight, I’m sure somebody else will fix it. Right? Anybody? Oh, and I still haven’t been told just exactly what defines a terrorist…… But I’m sure we can trust the government to do the right thing…..

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